Haunted Honeymoon (1986) Selected by Nick de Semlyen, Associate Editor (Features)
A good comedian can make people laugh using their legs. But it takes a great comedian to make people laugh using someone else’s legs.
The last of Gene Wilder’s three movies with wife Gilda Radner — and sadly Radner’s final film; she died of cancer in 1989 — Haunted Honeymoon was designed as a throwback to the comedy chillers he loved as a boy. As writer, director and star, Wilder injected it with pure imagination, populating the creepy mansion in “Stormville, NY” with werewolves, seven-foot cobras and ghouls that walk on the walls, Inception-style.
But despite all the practical effects, Wilder scares up the movie’s biggest laughs with nothing more than an old trunk, a comatose body and his own face. Having knocked the deranged butler (Bryan Pringle) unconscious, hero Larry (Wilder) starts to shove him into a chest. But at that point two policemen turn up, forcing Larry to lean over the sticking-up legs, pretending they are his own.
It’s an absurd bit of old-school vaudevillian shtick, which wouldn’t be out of place in an
Austin Powers movie. What sells it are Wilder’s deadpan reactions as the limbs fly into ever more anatomically impossible positions, trying desperately to sell the illusion by scratching the ankles, adjusting the socks and, in one eyewateringly funny moment, breaking into a show tune and faux-dance. The rest of the movie is largely so-so (not to mention the nonsensical title: the wedding happens at the end), but this sequence alone makes it worth a watch.