Being a fan of horror movies and having HBO in the 80s meant I saw a lot of films late at night. I didn’t see everything and some I only saw once or twice. Deadly Blessing (1981) is one of those that I haven’t seen in probably 30 years but several scenes still stick out. While not necessarily the best of the 80s, it was directed by Wes Craven (Nightmare on Elm Street) and that is enough to give it the credit it needs for the horror community. So, I finally sat down to revisit this flick and was pleasantly surprised and reminded on how crazy the final act is. I had totally forgotten the final twist.
Our story is set in a farm community where Martha (Maren Jensen, Battlestar Galactica) and Jim Schmidt (Doug Barr, The Fall Guy) own a farm next door to a Hittite community (think Amish). It turns out that Jim was a Hittite before going off to college and marrying Martha, which got him banished from his home. There is clearly tension as his father, Isaiah (Ernest Borgnine, channeling his best Devil’s Rain evil look), watches from a distance. The movie begins to play out almost like a slasher flick as Jim is murdered by an unseen figure. Martha refuses to leave and asks her friends Lana (Sharon Stone, Basic Instinct) and Vicky (Susan Buckner) to stay for a week. Lana is soon terrorized in the barn and begins having strange dreams. When Vicky begins to show interest in Jim’s brother John (Jeff East, young Clark Kent in Superman: The Movie), his fiancée Melissa seems to go off the deep end. But is Melissa behind the killings? Is it Satan or an incubus? The final act is a wild ride and just when you think you have it all figured out, Wes Craven throws us for a final loop that shows maybe Isaiah wasn’t crazy after all.
I really enjoyed revisiting this movie after such a long time. No, it’s not a classic and it hasn’t been well-received over the years. But it is so much better than a lot of the modern-day horror direct-to-DVD releases we’re getting. It’s fun to see horror legend Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes) and yes, that is a real spider being dropped into Sharon Stone’s mouth (defanged at her request). On a side note, this would be Maren Jensen’s last film role as she was diagnosed with Epstein Barr Syndrome shortly after this movie.
It finally received a DVD and Blu-ray release this year. Well worth your time to track down and check out. Enjoy the trailer and brace yourselves. Tomorrow, we zip ahead to 2013 for a look at a new release.