Deadly Blessing (Scream Factory Blu-ray)
Directors - Wes Craven
Cast - Maren Jensen, Sharon Stone, Susan Buckner
Country of Origin - USA
Discs - 1
Distributor - Shout Factory
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
Date - 2/6/13
The Film (3/5)
Deadly Blessing tells the story of Jim and Martha, a young couple, celebrating their first anniversary. They live their lives in farm country, nearby an Amish like group of religious zealots known as Hittites, a group, that Jim once counted himself amongst the ranks. The Hittites are lead by Isaiah (Ernest Borgnine) who is a very fire and brimstone-esque religious leader who leads the Hittites with a stern controlling hand. One of his members William, played by the Hills Have Eyes Michael Berryman is obsessed with insulting the non-Hittite women of the community, and insinuating they are the flesh pawns of the Demon Incubus.
Soon after the film begins Jim dies in a mysterious tractor accident. After this occurs 2 of Martha's friends from the city, Vicky and Lana, come to the farm in order to comfort her. Of course this wouldn't be a horror film if strange incidents didn't begin to happen, the body count begins to rise, and near-death experiences begin to occur. is it the Hittites who want Martha's land or is something more sinister at play?
Out of all the so-called Masters of Horror Wes Craven has always been my least favorite. His career started out with the one-two punch of Last House on the Left and the Hills Have Eyes before descending into a career making horror films of various quality occasionally surfacing to bring us a genre classic like his most famous film A Nightmare on Elm Street, but for the most part his career is littered with decent (Shocker) to good (Scream 1-2) films, almost classics (People Under the Stairs, Serpent and the Rainbow), and films that are simply bad (Scream 4 I'm looking at you).
However, due to his name being carrying a certain reputation in the horror community, I ended up spending my childhood renting and attending anything with Wes Craven's name on it (seriously, I even saw Wish Master in theaters). I thought I'd pretty much saw it all (well everything except Music of the Heart, but pardon me for making an exception), and then I got Synapse Films excellent 42nd St. Forever the Blu-ray edition. This excellent compilation of horror, cult, and exploitation trailers had the trailer for Wes Craven's Deadly Blessing. A film that looked like the right mix of spooky and run. I ran to my computer to order it, only to find out that it's never had a DVD release. Fortunately, a few months later those awesome cats at Scream Factory announced the Blu-ray edition of the film.
Having viewed the trailer, and been familiar with other Craven horror films from this period I had wrongfully assumed that this was going to be a body count film with a sort of Amish/Cult twist. I ended up being completely wrong about this, if you go into this film expecting a wall to wall death fest you will be disappointed. What Craven has done with Deadly Blessing is create something that plays with those expectations, and teases the audiences expectations. Yes, characters in the film die, but it's not the focus of the film.
The film's performances range from decent to very good, with a wonderfully over the top performance by Ernest Borgnine as Isaiah the leader of the Hittites. Borgnine manages to steal pretty much every scene he's in, and creates an intriguing and disturbing character misshapen by his dedication to his Religion and it's practices. The rest of the cast do quite well in their roles, but the performances are pretty standard for the material, Michael Berryman appears to be having quite a bit of fun in his role as one of the members of the Cult, William. Also, a young Sharon Stone appears in the film as Lana one of the 2 women who comfort Martha after the death of her husband.
If Deadly Blessing does one thing very well it is to mix the psychological with the supernatural in horror to create something that is quite an interesting addition to Craven's repertoire. It isn't the missing masterpiece I was hoping from the film, but it is a certainly unique horror experience, and on that alone I can recommend the film.
Scream Factory continues their string of quality horror transfer with Deadly Blessing. They present the film in a very solid 1:78:1 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer preserving the films original aspect ratio. The film has a very natural look to it, with a nice organic grain structure present for much of the running time. The color reproduction here is nice, black levels are solid, and detail is very good. There is a bit of softness throughout the film, of course, this could be a reflection of the way the film was shot and not the transfer itself. There is some minor print damage that surfaces occasionally as well.
Scream Factory have presented Deadly Blessing with 2 audio options a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, and the same with the original Mono. I stuck to the mono track for most of my viewing, and both of them sound quite good. The dialogue comes through nice and clear, as does the music. Everything is mixed together nicely without any element drowning out the rest. I did not detect any instances of pops, cracks, or hissing on the track, and optional subtitles are included.
Scream Factory have put together a nice slate of extras for their release of Wes Craven's Deadly Blessing. The disc kicks off with a commentary by Wes Craven with horror journalist Sean Clark. This is followed up by Say Your Prayers! A 14 minute long interview with Michael Berryman. We then have Secrets Revealed a 13 minute long interview with Susan Buckner about the film. Rise of the Incubus is next, which is a 7 minute long interview with the creature FX artist on the film, John Naulin. So It Was Written is a 21 minute piece interviewing the films writers Glenn Benest and Matthew Barr. The disc is rounded off by a still gallery, and a trailer in HD.
Deadly Blessing is a smaller scale horror film from Wes Craven which successfully blends the supernatural with the psychological to create something quite a bit unique. The Scream Factory release really goes all out in restoring the film, and providing fans with a nice array of extra content. RECOMMENDED.