31 October 2014

Nightmare Honeymoon (1973)
96 min.
Directed by Elliot Silverstein.
With Dack Rambo, Rebecca Diana Smith, John Beck, Pat Hingle, Roy Jenson, David Huddleston, Jay Robinson, Dennis Patrick, Jim Boles.
A forgotten gem, the plot here is deceptively simple.

A pair of newlyweds (Rambo and Smith) honor the bride’s family tradition of “escaping” from their reception, and disappear while wedding party attendees give chase.

Deciding to spend the honeymoon at a local motel, the two witness a murder and soon become victims of the sadistic lead killer (John Beck) themselves…with the young wife bearing the worst of the brunt.

Not willing to leave it alone, the dutiful new groom goes on the hunt for the perpetrators.

And revenge never looked so sweet. Smith is attractive, and plays what could have been an overwrought and tragic part with great conviction.

But the biggest revelation here is handsome Dack Rambo, who underplays his role nicely.

Nightmare Honeymoon is not as mean spirited as, say, Wes Craven's Last House on the Left (1972). But the wife’s distress, and the couple’s difficulty in coping with their ordeal packs a wallop.

Director Nicolas Roeg dropped out of the project after a few days, and yet his stylish imprint is still intact; the film was shot on location in New Orleans and uses the city to great effect, in much the same way Don’t Look Now utilized Venice as an idyllic yet foreboding setting.

Elmer Bernstein composed the beautiful score that provides the perfect complement to the couple’s angst. A fine example of how a terrific cast & direction can make a production rise above what might have otherwise been forgettable.

Also known as Deadly Honeymoon.

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