November 16th, 2009

A SHRIEK IN THE NIGHT (1933) **

Before she danced with Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers starred in this innocuous murder mystery. A guy falls out of a tall building and the police try to determine if it was an accident or if it was murder. (SPOILER: It was murder!) Ginger plays a spunky reporter who tries to get the story. Lyle (Plan 9 from Outer Space) Talbot plays her boyfriend (and rival) who steals her scoop. She gets pissed at him but he redeems himself when he saves her from the clutches of the killer.


A Shriek in the Night is pretty weak and forgettable. Despite being creaky and slow moving, there was at least one cool shot of the gas mask wearing killer creeping around that was sorta effective. I think what really sinks the film is the fact that the plot is so dang convoluted. I mean the last five minutes of the flick is devoted to Talbot explaining the killer’s motive. The thing that keeps the film from being a complete waste of time is the chemistry between Rogers and Talbot. They actually delivered their snappy reporter banter with gusto and their performances are better than the material deserves.


Although this movie was on one of my many 50 horror movie packs, A Shriek in the Night isn’t really a horror movie. I will say one thing for it; it features a lot of people shrieking in the night. In addition to the victims; old ladies, maids, and even Rogers herself all get chances to give their lungs a workout. In that respect, it lives up to it’s title.

NIGHTMARE HONEYMOON (1973) *

The bride’s family in this movie has an awfully bizarre wedding custom.  When she and her husband leave the reception, her relatives chase them down the highway and if they catch up to her, they are allowed to heckle the couple while they consummate the marriage.  Strangely enough, this isn’t the “Nightmare” part of the Honeymoon. 

 

The honeymooning couple successfully eludes the bride’s weirdo family and decides that the woods are the best place to consummate the marriage.  Now normal newlyweds like to consummate their marriage while in the comfort of a hotel room but these idiots stupidly try to play Hide the Salami out in the woods.  (I guess when you have a family of Peeping Toms; you take what you can get.)  While in the woods, the couple witnesses a murder and when they try to run, the killers knock the husband unconscious and rape the wife.  After an excessive amount of whining, the husband finally nuts up and decides to track down the rapists and kill them.

 

Nightmare Honeymoon sounds like a grand old time but it’s way too tame to be any good.  Director Eliot Silverstein did such a great job with all the gore in A Man Called Horse, so it’s actually kinda depressing to see him totally wimp out here by keeping the rape off screen.  Now I don’t mean to sound like a misogynist or anything but when you’re doing a Rape n’ Revenge Movie, you have to actually SHOW the rape to make the revenge part worthwhile.  Take I Spit on Your Grave, Last House on the Left, or Ms. 45 for example.  They are the Holy Trinity of Rape n’ Revenge Flicks and all three of them show us the rape in excruciating detail.  That way, the audience really wants to see the rapists get their comeuppance in the end.  In Nightmare Honeymoon, the husband blacks out so we don’t get to see the rape and the wife doesn’t tell him about it until later in the film.  (For all we know, she could just be making the whole thing up just to get attention.) 

 

Silverstein probably thinks he’s doing one of those “What you don’t see is scarier than what you do see” numbers here.  With a genre like this one though, you really need to be explicit in order to be effective.  Because of this, Nightmare Honeymoon is completely neutered of any tension and feels about as edgy as an episode of Kojack.

 

The final confrontation with the rapists is also pathetic.  In the end the husband just shoves a pole through the main scumbag’s chest.  After about 90 minutes of lame-o melodrama and non-existent tension, the villain’s demise leaves a lot to be desired.  Heck, even the wife screams, “It’s not enough!” over and over again.  Talk about a gyp.

 

AKA:  Deadly Honeymoon.