Deadly Blessing (1981)

Deadly Blessing (1981)


Martha (Maren Jensen, Athena, TV’s Battlestar Galactica) and Jim (Douglas Barr, Howie, TV’s The Fall Guy) live in a farm called “Our Blessing,” next to a religious sect called The Hitties (not to be confused with the Amish). Jim is an ex-Hittie — he was kicked out of the group when he married his city wife. When Jim dies in a freak accident, Martha is pressured by The Hitties to sell her farm to them. She refuses, and The Hitties are angrier than ever before. Meanwhile, members of the religious sect start disappearing under mysterious circumstances, and Martha suspects it has something to do with the her feud with The Hitties.

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.

Deadly Blessing 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 — loved the dream sequence — but it ends up being “much ado about nothing.” The nonsensical finale is particularly unsatisfying. It seems that they didn’t know how to end the movie.

The movie hold my attention. As I said before, the film is very atmospheric. Deadly Blessing was almost entirely shot in rural Ohio by cameraman Robert C. Jessup. 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 Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Cocoon.

The cast has many familiar faces. Oscar-winning actor Ernest Borgnine (Marty) plays Father Isaac. 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). With Jeff East (young Clark Kent in Richard Donner’s Superman), and Lisa Hartman (Cathy, TV’s Knots Landing).

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

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

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