CONTAINS SPOILERS, THE MAIN ONE OF WHICH IS GIVEN AWAY IN THE FIRST FIVE MINUTES OF THE MOVIE ANYWAY
As much as I love my Argento gialli - The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, Deep Red and so on - it is always worth going back a little further to the films of Mario Bava. I'm no expert on Bava, not least because so many of his films aren't available in the UK (Argento is probably the best represented of the Italian genre directors on British DVDs and Blu; there are huge gaps in the filmographies of Bava and Lucio Fulci and absolutely nothing by Riccardo Freda,for example), and the few that are available tend towards the more famous titles like Black Sunday (The Mask Of Satan) and the once-banned Bay Of Blood. But short of imports or unofficial sources you cannot get Five Dolls For An August Moon, Baron Blood, Blood And Black Lace or Rabid Dogs....
Pedantry alert: most of the killing in 1970's Hatchet For The Honeymoon is done with a meat cleaver, not a hatchet. And strictly speaking, the film isn't a giallo: there's no mystery as to the identity of the mad killer butchering brides-to-be. Wedding dress designer John Harrington (Steven Forrest) basically stands up at the start of the film and says "Hello, I'm John Harrington and I'm the mad killer." The question is why? What drives him to commit bloody serial murder and stuff the corpses in his incinerator? His shrewish wife Mildred who controls the money? Something to do with the numerous models draped all round the place in wedding gowns and lingerie? A secret from the past? Who's the pale-faced boy who appears wordlessly to him?
There are also non-giallo touches of the supernatural, as one of Harrington's victims returns to haunt him forever, and that's the really scary moment of the film even though it's happening to an unbalanced serial murderer. Other sequences play more as ghoulish Hitchcockian black comedy, such as a dying woman dripping blood on the carpet right where the maniac is chatting with the police downstairs. Hatchet For The Honeymoon isn't my favourite Mario Bava film - that's probably Blood And Black Lace - but it's still enjoyable, quite nasty for a 15 certificate, and has a cruelly satisfying payoff. Well worth seeing, as most (if not all) Bava is, but it's not the best film he made.
You may now kill the bride: