In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Friday, February 2, 2018

In Sickness & In Death...

This week's VHS is a random title from the stack with a semi-familiar coverbox, Patrick Jamain's 1985 thriller Honeymoon aka Lune de Miel.

To avoid deportation, Cécile (French starlet Nathalie Baye) pays for an arranged marriage to stay in the country while her incarcerated lover awaits trial. Unfortunately, her “husband” Zachary (John Shea) tracks her down and wants more than she bargained for.

Despite being somewhat misrepresented by its coverbox (a common practice during the home video boom that I'll never wise up to) Honeymoon was an interesting view for a few reasons. A French/Canadian co-production set in New York, we actually do get a lot of cool footage of vintage Big Apple, even if I suspect most of the interiors were split between Montreal & Paris.

I was immediately struck by the setup, as the opening credits feature the lower half of a woman in a red dress (one of seemingly only two outfits she wears throughout the entire film) running through the streets of New York. I wonder if this wasn't some sort of nod to Gene Wilder's Woman in Red released the previous year. Anyway, at the end of the scene Baye, now in full frame, runs by a live band in the street playing the exact song that I'd been listening to the entire sequence. I was like wait, what? Sadly, this was the only time that something like this happened which made it all the more conspicuous.

As I explained before, Cécile's Plan B to stay in the country was to pay for a (presumably illegal) arranged marriage. This was not a well thought out course of action, as she literally just randomly pointed to a file on the desk of the broker (played by Mulder's father Peter Donat) and went “this one.” I guess this process was a thing back in the day? Hell, maybe it still is. Normally, these couples never met apparently, but Zachary had other ideas.

It was the dynamic between the two early on that held my interest, as given her situation Cécile reacted pretty rationally. It was only when he later conveniently came to her aid during an altercation with a would-be date rapist (played by Canuck oh-that-guy Alf Humphreys no less) that she started to warm up to him. A few more bad (and equally unlikely) choices later and well, she was in deep shit.

Nathalie Baye as Cécile in Honeymoon

I have to go back to this whole arranged marriage process though, because there's a scene where the broker comes to her later is like, “yeah, so that guy, you picked the newest file on my table and I hadn't properly vetted him. He could be trouble.” Now, that this guy was listed with the Better Business Bureau or anything, but first off... Why the fuck was this guy's file in the list if he wasn't checked out? And why did you not say something at the time?! Not cool, dude.

In a way, Honeymoon was a little ahead of the curve. Obviously, Brian De Palma had been making sexually charged thrillers for a while by this point – Will Fruett's 1984 picture Bedroom Eyes comes to mind as well – but they were largely racier renditions of Alfred Hitchcock's ouevre. Even stuff like 1981's Body Heat seemed more rooted in American film noir. Honeymoon feels like the type of thrillers that exploded after the popularity of Fatal Attraction in 1987 where a character made a bad decision that immediately came back to haunt them.

John Shea as Zachary in Honeymoon

Honeymoon was not what was I was expecting, but it was still a decent watch with a unique hook and lots of great New York flavour. By the mid-nineties, there were literally hundreds of movies like this one on video store shelves so it's neat to see one of the progenitors.

Edit - Just after I posted this I discovered Alf Humphreys passed away the same day I watched this movie. Rest in peace, you were a ubiquitous performer and it was great to see you at the My Bloody Valentine reunion in 2009.

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