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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Haunted Honeymoon is a 1986 comedy in which Gene Wilder plays a radio performer undergoing an unusual cure for the speech impediment he has developed since getting engaged. It was the last movie Gilda Radner starred in, and Gene Wilder also directed it as an homage to the "comedy-horror" movies of the 1930s. That said, while there are some tame horror movie scares -- a knife-wielding Wolfman, snakes in desk drawers, hands reaching up through burial ground dirt -- the scariest part of the movie is Dom DeLuise's ludicrous performance as the matronly Great Aunt Kate. There's some cigarette smoking and drinking, and a butler who sneaks nips of booze when no one is looking. Infrequent profanity includes "bulls--t," "goddammit," "hell," and "pissed." Viewers will also see some gun and slapstick violence and some blood.
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What's the story?
In HAUNTED HONEYMOON, Larry Abbot (Gene Wilder) and Vickie Pearle (Gilda Radner) co-star on the popular 1930s radio program "Manhattan Mystery Theater" and are engaged to be married. However, since the engagement, Larry has developed a speech impediment that threatens to destroy his career. Larry's uncle, a doctor, decides, without informing Larry, that the best way to cure Larry is to startle him out of his speech impediment (similar to how people are startled out of having hiccups). Larry and Vickie travel to the old castle where he grew up. In the castle, Larry reunites with several of his very eccentric relatives, including his Great Aunt Kate (Dom DeLuise), who hints at past debauchery in the castle and hints at impending doom. Larry's uncle lets the family in on his plan to cure Larry's speech problems through scares, but it immediately becomes difficult to determine if the scares are part of the cure, or the efforts of a family member trying to get rid of Larry so as to collect on Great Aunt Kate's inheritance, or something far more sinister.
Is it any good?
Considering the talent involved, this movie should be funnier than it actually is. Director, co-writer, and star Gene Wilder attempted an homage to the "comedy chillers" of the 1930s, but even with earnest intentions, the talents of his wife Gilda Radner, Dom DeLuise, and a gifted ensemble cast, Haunted Honeymoon never comes close to what Wilder achieved with Mel Brooks in Young Frankenstein or the wacky camp of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Instead, the movie is a jumble of three or four conflicts and storylines, with none of the scares remotely as frightening as Dom DeLuise dressed in drag as Great Aunt Kate.
This would also be Gilda Radner's last movie before her untimely passing from ovarian cancer in 1989. The fact that the beautiful chemistry between Radner and Wilder -- married in real-life -- is the most entertaining and memorable aspect to this movie gives the scenes between the two a bittersweet sadness. But that magic cannot overcome the rest of the movie's shortcomings, and the end result was a box office bomb and a minor footnote in their otherwise incredible careers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about comedy-horror movies. Can "comedy" and "horror" be in the same movie, or do the two tend to cancel each other out?
How did Haunted Honeymoon attempt to mine humor out of the conventions of haunted house-style horror movies?
How do you think the movie would be different if it came out today?
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