Deadly Blessing (1981)

Deadly Blessing (1981)

Synopsis:

Martha (Maren Jensen, TV’s Battlestar Galactica) and Jim (Douglas Barr, TV’s The Fall Guy) are farmers living next to a religious sect called “The Hitties.” Jim is an ex-Hittie who was kicked out of the group when he married his city wife. Meanwhile, members of the sect start disappearing under mysterious circumstances.

Reaction & Thoughts:

Wes Craven’s exercise in rural Gothic is one of his most obscure films. It’s definitely not as well-known as The Hill Have Eyes, A Nightmare on Elm Street and the Scream films. The lack of popularity can be attributed to its inaccessibility — hopefully, the new Scream Factory DVD might change that.

This is one of Craven’s first films with a relatively decent budget and a fairly strong cast. It’s high on ominous atmosphere but low on logic (the title means nothing!). That’s fine because the plot makes even less sense. Some scenes are good, but it ends up being “much ado about nothing.” The nonsensical finale is particularly unsatisfying.

As I said before, Deadly Blessing is very atmospheric. The film was almost entirely shot in rural Ohio by cameraman Robert C. Jessup (Silent Rage). The bucolic ambiance adds greatly to the overall feel of the movie. The fine music score is by James Horner, who was about to break into the big leagues with films like 48 Hrs.Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Cocoon and James Cameron’s Aliens.

The cast is filled with many familiar faces. Oscar-winning actor Ernest Borgnine (Marty) plays Father Isaac. Borgnine’s “Big Daddy” is imposing and menacing.

Sadly, the inimitable Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes) disappears too quickly. Pre-stardom Sharon Stone (Basic Instinct) has a small, but pivotal role (she’s the woman on the poster). Also starring Jeff East (young Clark Kent in Richard Donner’s Superman) and Lisa Hartman (TV’s Knots Landing).

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Major and minor complaints notwithstanding, Deadly Blessing is an entertaining time-filler. The actors are good and Craven does a fine job establishing the proper mood. Lower your expectations and you may enjoy it. Color, 100 minutes, Rated R

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