Honeymoon Haven (1977)

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7 July 2015 | lor_
Lame, overwritten XXX comedy
I'll never understand the pre-posthumous (yes, he's still alive and kicking) appreciation that has accrued to Carter Stevens long after his porn movie career ended. HONEYMOON HAVEN is praised to the skies, but I saw it back in the day, and rather reluctantly giving it a second viewing through the magic of DVD was bored stiff. No pun, please.

Stevens and his screenwriter Richard Jaccoma pour on the turgid dialogue, not witty but giving the impression of a movie being made, rather than wall-to-wall sex. I categorically prefer narrative cinema, but incumbent on folks working in that medium is the delivery of interesting scenes, a luxury that "sex is all" pornographers don't have to worry about.

Not much is delivered here, as we must stomach the endlessly repetitious structure Jaccoma/Stevens have erected. Wade Nichols on his wedding night faces a recalcitrant bride Erica Havens, who went through with the ceremony but locks herself in the bathroom of their motel room rather than have sex with hubby.

The rest of this tedious exercise has Nichols regaled with tall tales by the title motel's owner R. Bolla, supposedly a wise (if overly talkative) old geezer who's seen it all. Bolla as usual tries very hard, but is unconvincing as to the character's age and experience, and is merely boring, overstaying his welcome on screen at least three reels too long.

Where the filmmakers went wrong in the short-story format is a lack of development or twist in the writing. Every short story has, beyond the requisite atmosphere, characterizations and use of language, a structure that provides an interesting switch, or at least some revelation that creates that bit of satisfaction in the reader at the conclusion. Even modern (21st Century) vignette-dominated porn has a bit of this quality. But in HONEYMOON HAVEN a desultory premise for each story is laid out, and then the players execute the sketch, with hardcore sex as its centerpiece, and nothing else happens -it's just straightforward, unfunny and often insultingly stupid. As they say in the computer world: Execute, Repeat -it's back to Nichols and Bolla shooting the breeze to set up the next sketch.

Case in point: an idiotic depiction of beatniks checking into the motel circa 1959 for a threesome instead of the expected blissfully wedded couple. The styling and lingo is beneath the level of a failed SNL TV sketch, and Herschel Savage has to contend with an ugly woman and inept actor in the triumvirate. Dialog is peppered with "like" and "you know" every third word, a speech impediment not so much emblematic of the Beat Generation, but rather of epidemic proportions among young people in the 21st Century as well. Nichols doesn't believe this story, and neither did I.

Beyond Savage's mate, the female cast in HONEYMOON HAVEN is dreadfully unattractive, even by the low (read: skanky) standards of its time of production. Perhaps the beauties were mainly concentrated on the West Coast at that time (certainly my favorites like Joan Devlon and Annette Haven), but surely Stevens could have rounded up some more presentable femmes than shown here, particularly the paper-bag worthy leading lady Havens. When Nichols is ready to give up the prospect of bedding her in the final reel, I couldn't see any reason for him to relent when predictably reverse psychology set in to make her suddenly want to get it on with him.


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