Deadly Blessing (1981)
Director: Wes Craven
Hot chick (Maren Jensen) lives in the Pennsylvania farmlands with her man. One night her husband mysteriously kicks the bucket which results in her two best friends coming down from the city to have her back. Next thing ya know, peeps are dying, dangerous animals keep popping up in the girls bizznaz while the Amish-like neighbors (the Hitittes) bust chops and name drop the word “Incubus” any chance they get. WTF is going on here! A deadly blessing bitches, that's what!
This past weekend was the so called rapture (am still here, I guess I'll be partying in hell... along with the rest of the population) and I celebrated it with FINALLY clocking Wes Craven's first Studio effort DEADLY BLESSING. I had bought a bootleg of it eons ago at a Comic Con and only now did I give it a whirl. Hey, shit takes the time it takes. DEADLY BLESSING came after Craven's indie shockers THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972), THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977) and the TV Movie SUMMER OF FEAR (1978). It marked his return to the big screen where he damn belonged. So how did it go down? Smooth as a hooker's well moisturized ass!
DEADLY BLESSING made my day in an “I so missed old school” kind of way. The image was grainy (mostly cause my copy was a rip of a VHS with lines that scroll up through the image and all... nice), the pace deliberately slow (in a good way) and the scares handled in a simple yet efficient manner. In fact DEADLY BLESSING totally came across as Wes Craven's training-wheels effort for NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and SCREAM. There was a bathtub scene in here that was pretty much a repeat of the Elm Street rub-a-dub bit. Same went for the way Craven shot the ominous looking house, how he conveyed the teen dynamic and used bad dreams to up the “brrr” of the piece. At some point, Sharon Stone's character yaps about a nightmare she had, having to do with a spider and some scary dude calling her name. If I squinted real hard, it could've been the sequence from Elm Street when Tina tells Nancy about her nightmare. On top of that, Maren Jensen was a dead ringer for Nancy (its the other way around, but ya know what I mean). As for the Scream similarities? Try a whodunit and a hooded killer dressed in black doing the stalker doo! Yup, it was a trip to witness Craven doing his cinematic push-ups, the pumps that would bring him to the Horror Master level he's at today.
What about the picture itself? Tight! The initial premise was gnarly, the mystery had me bamboozled throughout and there were so many horror subgenres at play here that it was tough to not find something to lust. Am talking: a slasher, a supernatural ditty, a psychological ringer and a religious horror jamboree...all rolled into one! Take that to the blood bank and bleed it! Directing wise; the picture was filled with spooky imagery, dread filled atmosphere, powerful wide shots and a money use of the killer POV device. Moreover, Craven was “on” when it came to surprising its audience (in this case me and my hand puppet Harry) and even managed to spit out a couple of clit biting suspense laced sequences. Oh and that red filter he slapped on during one of the kills? GOLD! Loved it! The fine cast delivered big time as well. Maren Jensen (Battlestar Gallactica), a young Sharon Stone (when she had meat on her bones...yum), the sexy “I had the hots for her in this” Susan Buckner (the preggers chick in Grease), Lisa Hartman, Jeff East, an entertainingly scene gobbling Ernest Borgnine, Hills Have Eyes star Michael Berryman... an eclectic and talented cast who brought validity to the nutty proceedings. Add to that potent sound design (the wind blowing = creepy) and a low key yet chilling score by James Horner (chanting = creepy) and you get a rollicking fear flick that got the job done!
So what dragged this sucka down? Well Sharon Stone's character and what ailed her was a tad underused. She was also very whiny. Shape up girl! Get up, dust yourself off, grab your crotch and scream “I am woman hear me get the hell out of dodge!” The whole “why aren't they just leaving that shit hole farm” thang also kept ringing in my hollow melon. When you know things are getting dangerous; ya book out, no? Not these dames! Sigh. My biggest peeve though was that the story was uber busy the whole way, hinting at so much, but when the finale kicked in, I realized that most of the buzz was for nothing. Taking into account what was built up, I was let down by the WHY behind the madness. But hey I'm a finicky f*ck. Lastly, the final frames were left field and somewhat cheesy. Like really man? I could have easily gone without them. Seems that the European release of the movie snipped out that final moment. Good for them! They saw a better movie!
With that spat, buried, unearthed and necro-defiled DEADLY BLESSING made for a compelling watch from start to finish. Not only cause it was involving, frightening, with talent in front and behind the lens, but also cause as a Wes Craven fan, it was dope to see early Craven flex his shit. So you gonna get blessed by this one or what?
Pretty grandma dry. We get some stabbings, light blood and bullet hits. More red would have helped give this one further impact.
T & A
Maren Jensen treated us to her mini-Ts and sweet A. And there's another tangerine shot later on.
I love it when there are no theatrical genre films spooking the big screen as it gives me a shot to go back and crash older horror parties that I have yet to see. Horror from the 70s and 80s are tops in my world and DEADLY BLESSING was no exception. It had me hooked the whole way, showcased well done fear set pieces, reeked of morose cinematography, was filled with swell ideas and had a bang-on cast to boot. Bummer that it randomly suffered from the usual duh horror pitfalls, Sharon Stone's character was a pinch slim/grating, the final frames blew and that all it built up didn't really come together come the finale. But ya know what? It didn't ruin the movie for me, had a blast, hope it wont for you either. Next up, I have yet to see LETS SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH, have owned it forever; being that next weekend there are no genre theatrical releases... IT'S ON!
This was Sharon Stone's second movie.
A real spider was dropped into Stone's mouth and the only way she would do the scene was to have the spider defanged. So they amputated the insect... poor spider...
Actor Jeff East was also in Pumpkinhead (1988)
The film was shot on location in Lockhart, Texas.
During the tub scene, you can see Jensen's black panties beneath the bubbles. Booo!