Let me tell you, Dark Honeymoon is a cheater movie, a straight-to-DVD mess that reads like writer/ director Phillip Leftfield's first screenplay. Cobbling together a cast featuring a few big names, Dark Honeymoon almost seems to be a movie where actors go before they die (It was very nearly Roy Scheider's last - Iron Cross is listed by IMDB as still filming). Others like Daryl Hannah, Eric Roberts and Tia Carrere lend goofy gravitas to a lost cause ... and yet ... it's one of the most enjoyable DVDs I've watched this year. Go figure!
My wife often delights in the Saturday Afternoon Movie - a movie on some risible fake network at 3pm, when people in their right minds should be Getting Stuff Done. Unlike Dark Honeymoon, most of those movies have seen theatrical release, but usually they are B.A.D. - bad, bad in a shamefully joyous way, bad that makes you choke on your giggles when your jaw isn't hitting the floor. Such is the Honeymoon - I actually started it over again at the half-hour mark so my wife could watch the whole thing with me. Then we got into a fight, so she'll have to finish it some other time, but that's another story.
Told in a series of flashbacks, the story details the doomed honeymoon of Paul (Nick Cornish) and Kathryn (Lindy Booth) as they vacation on the Oregon Coast (actually Cambria, California - but who cares). Seems Paul's getting the touch from cops who think he murdered a bunch of people while celebrating his nuptials. (The body in the trunk of his car didn't help his case.) But no, Paul claims innocence, and as his story unfolds all the signs point in one outrageously obvious direction. Is Paul on the level? Who the heck cares? Let's just enjoy the over-the-top camp, washed-up performers, horrible dialog and ludicrous plot, shall we?
While hinging on violent, bloody murders, Dark Honeymoon isn't scary or suspenseful, and as a mystery it's disingenuous like a three-year-old who ate cookies before dinner - the cover up is insulting to everyone involved. And that's the least favorable part, since ultimately there's no way to get behind Dark Honeymoon, the ending feels like a cheap cheat. But there's so much bad to be had the point is moot.
Paul and Kathryn so don't know each other they're negotiating where to stay while dancing the First Dance on their wedding night. "How come we didn't talk about this stuff before?" Paul asks as Kathryn tells him about her parents during the honeymoon. Was her dad a cop or fireman? "What's the difference? They both wear a badge," she says. Then Daryl Hannah shows up as a swinger, and we begin to righteously cringe and wince (Ms. Hannah's fadeout has been painful, slow and not-exactly warranted - but her mere presence both sinks and floats Dark Honeymoon, if you catch my drift). At least when she and Scheider share lines we feel, happily, in the presence of real actors. The same can't be said of anyone else except Carrere, who tears into her stupid role with glee. Eric Roberts' brief, outrageous cameo is so hyperbolic you want to reach into the screen and punch him, while Lindy Booth's Kathryn is like some sort of narco-meth infused Strawberry Shortcake nightmare - awesome but terrifying.
I could go on, but the only thing I really want to know is, did they film this movie in the wintertime? There are some startlingly red noses on display - and not the kind that come from sniffing coke (that's a luxury that would have been well above the movie's budget). Make no mistake; Dark Honeymoon is hilariously bad. Other than the credits sequence, everything about it is sub-par and stupid, but it's put together in such a way that we've no doubt it's a sincere production. This is no campy spoof, it just misses every mark, misses those marks so good, baby.
This DVD-ROM screener comes (I think) in non-anamorphic widescreen, possibly at a 1.85:1 ratio. The effect is a widescreen picture that is distorted when stretched and loses information from top and bottom when zoomed in on (not to mention looking like crap). This is obviously not what the final product will look like, but what do I know? I'm just a simple DVD reviewer. That said, the picture often suffers from softness, lack of detail, film damage and occasional posterizing of subtly graded backgrounds.
English Stereo and 5.1 Audio are the offered sound schemes. I'll not comment too much on the action to be found on the 5.1 track, since this is a DVD-ROM screener. My faux-surround setting processed things decently enough, I suppose. For what it's worth, often dialog seems boomy and echoey (possibly bad room sound?) while at other times looped dialog sounds really unconvincing. However, at no point does dialog become unintelligible or inaudible, and the balance between music and dialog seems fine.
Our DVD-ROM screener arrived with a lovely sticker-label touting the movie title and high-class imprint: 'Entertainment Studios' (presumptive slogan: 'Our Pictures Move!'). It should come as no surprise that there are no extras, not even scene selections or chapter stops. This is not indicative of the final release product, but since the courtesy of an accurate product wasn't delivered ... you see what I'm saying.
I'm afraid I have to coin another new rating for Dark Honeymoon. For lovers of bad movies, this is the genuine article - full of howlers, forehead-slappers and other fine bits of ridiculousness that bottom-feeders love. Plus it's got Daryl Hannah and Tia Carrere, if you know what I mean. Even the fact that Dark Honeymoon's mystery-movie playing field is about as level as a ski slope is not a real problem (an annoyance, sure, but not a problem). This is just a healthy ladleful of bad goodness, or good badness depending on your point of view. Looking bad and minus any extras, I'm still going to give Dark Honeymoon - for the right crowd (and you know who you are) - my new rating of Highly Rent It, of course sane individuals probably ought to Skip It but what fun is being sane, anyway?
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com