Deadly Blessing is a horror film that takes place on farmland where
a cult called the Hittites brushes against the surrounding townspeople,
resulting in murder. It was directed by Wes Craven, who had previously directed
The Last House On The Left and The Hills Have Eyes. While Deadly Blessing isn’t nearly as scary as
those two films, it does a great job of maintaining a creepy, unsettling
atmosphere throughout. And there are some good scares (the snake in the bath
tub seriously freaked me out).
The Hittites are an
Amish-like group who have shunned the modern world. But of course their land
borders on a modern farm, which is owned by a couple – Jim (Doug Barr) and
Martha (Maren Jensen). Jim is an ex-Hittite, and was the first from the cult to
go away to school. When he returned, he was with Martha, and was
ex-communicated from the cult, which is led by his own father, Isaiah (Ernest
Borgnine). Isaiah calls Martha the incubus (which is interesting, as an incubus
is traditionally thought of as a male demon).
Soon Jim is killed in his
own barn. We then see some of the Hittites sneak into the barn, including
William (played by Michael Berryman, from The
Hills Have Eyes). Earlier we saw William frightening Faith (Lisa Hartman)
while she was painting.
After Jim’s death, two of
Martha’s friends -- Lana (Sharon Stone) and Vicky (Susan Buckner) -- come to
visit her, to comfort her. This is essentially Sharon Stone’s first film.
Before this, she had been basically a featured extra in Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories. So yes, this
is long before Sharon Stone learned how to act (but she looks great).
William spies on Martha through
her bedroom window while she changes. It’s very creepy, mostly because he seems
so childlike. Then suddenly he’s killed. So now who’s spying on her through her
window? As viewers, we come to suspect a
lot of people could have been responsible for Jim’s murder. However, oddly, the
authorities don’t seem to be investigating it at all. In fact, they really only
come around again when William has been killed. We even suspect Isaiah after he
tells Martha his son’s land should be with his people.
Farms are always a bit
creepy, and cults are always very creepy (yes, that includes you,
Scientologists). We do get a scene of an official cult meeting, where Isaiah
dishes out punishment to a young member. It’s effective at showing the type of
person Isaiah is, and how the others are obedient, and it also sets up the
scene where he later punishes his own son, John, who has taken an interest in
As I said, the film has a great atmosphere, and a good
look. And some of the cast is really strong. Plus, you get to hear Ernest
Borgnine shout, “You are a stench in the
nostrils of God!”
This Collector’s Edition disc
has quite a lot of special features. There is a commentary track by director
Wes Craven. Wes Craven tends to do really good commentaries. For some reason,
this one is moderated, but the moderator does a good job not imposing too much.
Wes talks about how he did a pretty thorough re-write on the script. And he
tells some interesting tales about the film. The producers interfered on only a few points. One was that Wes
Craven was told that Sharon Stone had to be cast, and that she had to wear lingerie. Also,
the ending was tacked on at the insistence of the producers. The story about Sharon
Stone’s reaction to the spider is also interesting. Wes talks about some of the
things that interested him in this project (though he also admits it was the
paycheck), including the fact that he was raised as a strict Baptist, and so
knew about repression. He talks about how his father was frightening, and that
he died when Wes was young, and how that has led to some of the figures in his
horror films. He tells the story of Borgnine being injured on this film, and
talks about shooting in Texas. I was completely appalled by what Wes Craven
said about the crew’s reaction to John Lennon’s death, which happened at the
time of the production (they applauded – one more reason to dislike Texas).
This disc also includes
several interviews with cast and crew. Say Your Prayers! is an interview with
actor Michael Berryman, in which he talks a bit about The Hills Have Eyes, but mainly, of course, about Deadly Blessing. He talks about his
character, the location, the other actors and about the hanging scene. This
feature is approximately fourteen minutes.
Secrets Revealed is an interview with actor Susan Buckner, in which
she talks about her start in the industry, about Grease, and about the other actors in Deadly Blessing. She was pregnant during the shooting, but didn’t
tell anyone. This feature is approximately thirteen minutes.
Rise Of The Incubus is an interview with creature designer John
Naulin, who talks about the design for the creature at the end of the
film. This is approximately six and a
So It Was Written is an interview with writers Glenn Benest and
Matthew Barr, who discuss the Amish, and the idea of a repressive religious
cult. They talk about re-writes, about being on set during production, and
about the added ending (which they didn’t like). This feature is approximately
This disc also includes
the film’s trailer, three television spots, five radio spots and a photo
The Collector’s Edition
of Deadly Blessing was
released on January 22, 2013 through Scream Factory (a division of Shout! Factory).