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Movie Review : Smiles Of A 'Haunted' Honeymoon

July 28, 1986|KEVIN THOMAS | Times Staff Writer

Gene Wilder's "Haunted Honeymoon" (citywide) is an amusing, bouncy horror comedy that has fun with not only the old-dark-house genre but also those corny but beloved scare shows of the Golden Age of Radio. Handsomely produced in England--although set largely in Upstate New York--it may be slight, but it does put a smile on your face and keep it there.

It's 1939, and Wilder and Gilda Radner are starring in the top-rated Manhattan Mystery Theatre when they decide to tie the knot. But what's this difficulty Wilder has in pronouncing the letter "W," said to be an indication that a person may really be a werewolf? Radner's not exactly encouraged when she and Wilder pull up to his great-aunt's vast and forbidding Charles Addams-style estate, where they're to be married.

Wilder, who directed and wrote the film with its ace production designer Terence Marsh, brings a blissfully blithe touch to the ingenious bump-in-the-night shenanigans, which incorporate homages to everything from "The Cat and the Canary" to "The Wolf Man." Looking like Sophie Tucker, Dom DeLuise is hilarious as the dotty great aunt who enters by sliding down a bannister--and who, in the midst of a formal dinner, suddenly gets up and does a joyful "Ballin' the Jack" song-and-dance, joined by Radner.

The largely British supporting cast is as delightful as the film's stars, especially Bryan Pringle and Ann Way, the estate's eccentric goofy butler and housekeeper. And for all of us who cringed at what Radner was asked to do and the way she was treated in "The Woman in Red," it's a pleasure to report that she gets to look pretty in her chic period wardrobe and that for once she's not the butt of cruel jokes. For that alone "Haunted Honeymoon" (rated PG but good family fare) deserves praise.

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