The Gene Wilder Horror Comedy Flop That’s Being Forgotten

By Brian Myers | Published

Haunted Honeymoon serves as proof that just because a screen legend is the star and in the director’s chair the film will be a success. Released in 1986 to massive disappointment, this Gene Wilder horror comedy has long since been in line for the cinematic abyss. Its absence from every streaming service follows dismal sales of the 2016 Blu-ray release, making it a difficult and sometimes pricey film to find.

Haunted Honeymoon

Haunted Honeymoon had a strong enough premise. Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner play Larry Abbot and Vickie Pearle, two radio performers in the 1930s whose show, Manhattan Mystery Theater, is in trouble. After proposing to Vickie, Larry has developed speech impediments on air that have been coupled with panic attacks.

From Fake To Real

Larry’s uncle Paul intervenes and hatches a plan to scare what he believes are pre-wedding jitters from his nephew’s mind. The elder Abbot uses the site of the wedding, an old castle in the family, to carry out his plan. Dear old uncle Paul uses every cheap trick in the book on the weekend of the wedding to terrify Gene Wilder’s character, only to discover that the horrors from Larry and Vickie’s radio show have come to life and are providing real dangers to the guests at the castle and making for a real Haunted Honeymoon.

An All-Star Cast

Haunted Honeymoon features Dom DeLuise and Jonathan Pryce, an additional talent that, like Gene Wilder, wasn’t enough to sell the film to audiences. Orion Pictures incurred an estimated $9 million in production costs for a box office bomb that barely brought in $8 million. The film marked the last time Wilder directed and was the last film Radner starred in, as she was soon after diagnosed with fatal ovarian cancer.

Directed By Gene Wilder

Gene Wilder first conceived the idea of Haunted Honeymoon in the mid-70s. Wilder grew up loving old horror films and radio shows, and he had a vision that would combine elements of both of those mediums into a feature film that captured the noir from the 1930s and brought it into current times. Under his direction, a film was shot without primary colors in an effort to make a full-color film that gave the appearance of one shot in black and white.

A Flop That Is Not A Cult Classic

Unlike some films that flop and later gain positive critical reception or a cult following, Gene Wilder’s stab at crossing multiple genres with Haunted Honeymoon is still considered a poor project. Unlike many “bad” films, this one doesn’t even have a visible cult following, which is perhaps why it’s not a movie that any of the streaming services are touching. The fact that it has received so few critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes is telling, with only 11 choosing to bother weighing in.

Not Wilder’s Best Movie

The 18 percent approval rating for Haunted Honeymoon on Rotten Tomatoes is scraping the bottom of the barrel, considering the usual popularity of film projects Gene Wilder created or attached himself to. But even the massive successes of Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and Silver Streak weren’t enough to lure audiences to see it, in 1986 or today.