Deadly Blessing (1981)

After the mysterious death of her husband, soon after leaving a strict religious sect known as the Hittites. Martha is left as a lonely widow expecting a child, and inherits the country house. Soon two of her friends Vicky and Lana come to comfort her and hopefully bring her back with them, but she prefers to stay. The local Hittites headed by Isaiah see her as the blame for the death and including one of their own, and claim her to be the incubus. Soon strange things begin to happen, and she gets the feeling it might be the sect behind it, but far more sinister work seems to be abound.

Craven’s lost treasure in his film collection just might be his curiously under-seen 1981 cult film “Deadly Blessing”. Finally with its DVD release in Australia, I got the chance and really enjoyed this stylishly skin crawling and at times inspired psychological shocker. Everything about Wes Craven’s well-mounted set pieces is genuinely haunting and visually striking with its spontaneously unexpected and innovative jolts. Tight, pressure-boiling suspense is atmospherically tailored to the dreamy, offbeat air and Craven’s judgement is immensely on song. He paints the surreal mood with great use of tinted colouring, well-lit lighting and an eerily original and alienating rural location choice. Going a long way to making the whole set-up quite effective was James Horner’s alarming music score, which ripples with ripe and tight thunderous cues. Glenn M. Benest and Mathew Barr’s busily symbolic story builds upon the groundwork to only end up all over the shop with its supernatural and psychological elements that seem too uneven and illogical. Boy does it become out-of-control, and strange leading to the climax. It does throw one surprise after another! However the ambiguously outrageous and tacky shock ending, now that was a real eye opener that totally felt out-of-place within the subtle context. Listen to the amusing DVD commentary to understand the reasoning for its inclusion. Robert Jessup’s elegantly scenic cinematography is well observed and swiftly handled. The three beautiful lead females were convincingly accessible; a headstrong Maren Jensen, joyful Susan Buckner and a drop dead gorgeous, but fragile-minded Sharon Stone. Ernest Borgnine’s steadfast, godly turn as the sect leader is superbly prominent. Michael Berryman is unforgettable. Lisa Hartman and Lois Nettleton are enjoyably lively, and Jeff East and Kevin Cooney also appear. Also Craven manages to squeeze a neat little reference to his very good TV movie “Summer of Fear”.