Honeymoon Of Terror (1961)

A film that opens with “Directed By Perri” and closes with “Finis” suggests a certain sophistication. After all, a singularly named director can only point to Europe. We all know what goes on in Europe.

It looks foreign. It sounds foreign. Yet, Honeymoon Of Terror isn’t. This is where art school meets home schooling and eventually, everybody gets happy. Hop the trolley to Horror-Nudie, USA. Pierre Perri doesn’t really exist here, but Peter Perry does. Need proof? My Tale Is Hot is indeed a real movie that was directed by Peter Perry. I double checked.

While the REAL Europeans were busy doing it with Horrors Of Spider Island in 1960, Peter Perry was doing it in Hollywood. By 1965, the horror-nudie would hit its apex with Perry’s Kiss Me Quick!, a mindless midnight rendezvous between Harvey Kurtzman’s Mad, the early halftones of Playboy, and a Halloween Sound Effects LP. With Honeymoon Of Terror, his second film from 1961, Perry and West Coast distributer Dan Sonney gather the pocket change and shoot it (mostly) kinked. This is a digest-sized “terror” film — 60 minutes long, postcard perfect, and very little nudity. Dale Berry ripped it off for The Girl And The Geek in 1964, but The Geek’s got nothing on hipsters like Frank and Marion. How’s that for a coup de grace?

Frank: “For Mrs. Frank White, I would rent the Milky Way!”

Marion: “Oh Frank, I don’t think I should get pregnant right away.”

It’s almost a three part tragedy. Young newlyweds Frank (sounds like a drugged Jerry Seinfeld) and Marion (world’s worst tent pitcher) get married, drive to Vegas, hang out in a tiny Motel room, visit remote Thunder Island, and battle a rapist/killer with “a club foot that drags.” The killer looks like Handy Andy. That’s it, but not really. We have yet to discuss the Pete Perry “touch.”

Honeymoon Of Terror‘s plot might’ve been scrawled on a grade schooler’s notebook, but the awkward disconnection could only come from a true authority in the trash film ghetto. Stock footage of Vegas intercuts with actors against black backgrounds, while demos for the Clutch Cargo score play on. Footage sometimes speeds up, all home movie-like, for no apparent reason. A dream sequence recaps the entire first half of the movie at the 30 minute mark, but leaves out a sight gag. Steadfast and supreme, these inexplicable decisions hold our hand when the chase footage (and most everything else) grows stale.

By the end, the beach stands serenely, the night is still very young, and I’m yearning for more. The Europeans have nothing on “Perri.”

Baffled by the snapshot appeal of quaint monster-nudies? Don’t start here. However, if selected early 1960s works from Barry Mahon, Dale Berry, and yes, Peter Perry, already light up your nights, Honeymoon Of Terror won’t disappoint. It’s more horror, much less nudie, and all ignorant fun.

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