Deadly Blessing Blu-ray Review
Directed by Wes Craven
Written by Glenn M. Benest, Matthew Barr and Wes Craven
1981, Region B2, 100 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
Blu-ray released on 25th March 2013
Maren Jensen as Martha Schmidt
Sharon Stone as Lana Marcus
Susan Buckner as Vicky Anderson
Jeff East as John Schmidt
Colleen Riley as Melissa
Douglas Barr as Jim Schmidt
Of all the movies one tends to forget about when talking about Wes Craven, Deadly Blessing is among the oddest. After The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes, budding master of horror Craven was still attempting to find his feet as a director. An atmospheric, melodramatic religious thriller set in a series of farmhouses, it's a far cry from the relentless misery of his earlier successes.
Craven swaps the desert mountains of New Mexico for the rural farmyards of backwater America. There the community is split between farmers and their severely religious Hittite neighbours (like the Amish, except even more uptight. Nice beards though). As the two families struggle to get along, a mysterious figure strikes from the shadows – dropping snakes in bathtubs, spiders on heads and beating up on poor Michael Berryman. Distractingly, there's also a young Sharon Stone, copious scenes of the girls sitting around in their underwear (blame – or thank – studio interference for that one) and a number of tricks you'll recognise from Craven's later movies.
The director might be on less rebellious form than he was while making his infamous video nasties, but it didn't stop him from bringing his Hills Have Eyes alumnus Michael Berryman with him. Berryman is an always welcome presence, as he opens the movie smashing up a canvas painting and shouting abuse at a local girl. We can be assured that this is still the Wes Craven we all know and love. In Deadly Blessing, we see Craven's more mainstream sensibilities come to the fore. There's even a scene with a snake and a bathtub that plays almost exactly like a certain scene from a certain Freddy Krueger film.
The film is finally getting some of the recognition it deserves in this re-release from the ever impressive and reliable Arrow Video. While it's not one of Craven's best works, it's one of his more interesting and original experiments. Better this than Swamp Thing or most of his modern output. It has an engaging story, good acting and a great look. It's too slow at times and seems to be lacking in purpose, while Craven's lack of experience with mainstream horror is occasionally quite evident – particularly in the studio-tacked ending, and surreal scenes of the girls lounging about in their undies. Not that there's anything wrong with surrealism, or girls in their underwear. Especially not when one of those girls is Sharon Stone.
Deadly Blessing may be a lesser work compared to Craven's classics, but it's still very underrated, all the same. It's smart, moody and a little sexy. Deadly or not, this lovely re-release from Arrow Video is a blessing to any to any self-respecting cult Blu-ray collection.
Video and Audio:
Once more, Arrow has brought us a great Blu-ray transfer. It looks fantastic and sounds the part too, perfectly ominous and creepy as it is.
Arrow Video has compiled an excellent set of features for their Blu-ray release. In addition to an audio commentary, there are must-see interviews with Wes Craven and Michael Berryman. While Craven is charmingly self-effacing (being particularly embarrassed by the amount of shameless lingerie scenes in the film), the equally likeable Berryman delivers a series of great anecdotes and stories. Controversially, he liked Hills Have Eyes part 2's dog flashbacks and hated Alexandre Aja's remake. There's also an interview with the film's writer, Glenn M. Benest. All essential viewing.
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