I gotta thank good ol’ Mickster for sending me over to Hulu the other day because I wasn’t there more than a couple minutes before I bumped into DEADLY BLESSING (1981). Why does DEADLY BLESSING think that it can hide from me when it can’t? It looks pretty good as far as the picture goes, less grainy than my rusty VHS but it needs some work done for sure. The fact that it’s horribly cropped is made apparent during the opening credits as every other name that appears has portions lopped off. Poor DEADLY BLESSING has never found its way onto DVD somehow (at least not in my neck of the woods.) You’d think a movie directed by WES CRAVEN would garner a little more interest and respect. It’s not his best work of course but it’s far from his worst. If you look really closely, I think you can see little idea seedlings that will come into fruition on Elm Street.
Luscious MAREN JENSEN (of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA fame) is Martha Schmidt. She and her hubby Jim (DOUG BARR of the often seen by me THE UNSEEN) are enjoying the country life and expecting their first child. The fly in their buttermilk is Jim’s estranged family members who do not approve of the marriage, wear creepy hats and chatter about demons and damnation all day. They look like the Amish but are called “Hittites” and I refuse to judge them because they revere ERNEST BORGNINE and are apposed to the wearing of short pants just like me. One day Jim dies in a mysterious tractor accident and Martha can only be cheered out of her mourning by the likes of SHARON STONE (of the legendary classic thriller SCISSORS) and SUSAN BUCKNER (who played Patty Simcox in GREASE.) Things get scary when MICHAEL BERRYMAN starts snooping about and people start swallowing spiders in their dreams, taking baths with snakes and receiving unsolicited egg deliveries from LISA HARTMAN (of the smash hit BEWITCHED spin-off TABITHA).
DEADLY BLESSING is loopy, semi-spooky fun albeit a little overstuffed. For a horror film released in 1981, it certainly marches to it own drummer (that reminds me, the nifty score comes care of JAMES HORNER the dude who did HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP, ALIENS & SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES.) The story may not hold up to much close scrutiny but somehow the near constant shifts in direction and focus work in its favor. The setting allows for some rich atmosphere and you can tell CRAVEN had some fun playing around with the expansive openness of the location. In fact, I’d say there’s almost always eye candy on this table, whether it be the easy to look at cast, the rife with personality homestead or the weird off kilter paintings provided by HARTMAN’s engagingly oddball character.
Maybe I’m just a sucker for a movie that mixes slasher elements with a heavy occult vibe and you can just take out the “maybe” I started this sentence with. Not that it matters much, but I’m also madly in love with the poster art for DEADLY BLESSING. It’s just really cool and that’s coming from somebody with a generally indifferent attitude toward boobage.
Many feel, WES CRAVEN included, that DEADLY BLESSING’s tacked-on, producer-insisted ending betrays the film but I strangely don’t mind it at all. It’s just one more crazy wrinkle in a film full of many, so it hardly breaks the tone. Blaming the ending scene for making this movie bonkers is like having a heard of bulls trash your china shop and only getting mad at the last one out the door as they leave. I say that as a fan. I am soooo biased when it comes to this picture because I saw it at a certain age and it was one of the early R-rated horrors I caught in the theater. I still remember my wonderment and how mysterious and forbidden it all felt. It seemed that anybody in this movie could be murdered or take a bath wearing their underwear at any moment. This is a message movie really and the message is, “Look out for the incubus!” It is a message that is heartbreakingly still relevant today. I still don’t understand my attraction fully. I still don’t understand a lot of things, but I do understand that you can watch it for free HERE.