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Nightmare Honeymoon


Do not consummate.

Rod Lott October 15th, 2013

Presented by Warner Archive in both theatrical and television versions, 1974's Nightmare Honeymoon carries the tagline "Thank heavens, it's only a movie!" — obviously inspired by The Last House on the Left's "To avoid fainting, keep repeating, it's only a movie" the year prior. Despite sharing a rape-revenge story, Nightmare Honeymoon is nothing like Last House. It's also not a horror film by any stretch of the imagination, of which it possesses none of its own.

nightmarehoneymoon

Dack Rambo (TV's Dallas) and then-newcomer Rebecca Dianna Smith play David and Jill. He's been home three days after a two-year stint in 'Nam; she's such a Southern belle, all she lacks is a hand fan. The film opens at their outdoor wedding reception, which they surreptitiously ditch in order to get down to bedroom business. 


Her father (Pat Hingle, Commissioner Gordon in the Batman franchise before Gary Oldman) instigates a disturbing caravan of good-naturedly chasing David and Jill to prevent them from hitting the mattress, so while en route to a hotel in New Orleans, our couple takes a detour to the Louisiana swamps to shake their followers. There, Jill is raped by a murderer (John Beck, also from Dallas). Gee, thanks, Dad!  


Directed by Cat Ballou's Elliot Silverstein, the film is adapted from a novel by crime master Lawrence Block — a fact you'll get forget as a promising start quickly devolves into a dreary drama that no actors could save. Making it especially worse is that Rambo was milquetoast personified onscreen, while Smith … well, let's just say there's a great reason you've never heard of her: She's atrocious. 


Although nonexplicit, Nightmare Honeymoon is an ugly scoop of Southern exploitation with no catharsis to justify its existence. Thanks heavens it's only a movie? Thank heavens it's only 89 minutes.  —Rod Lott


 
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