Snakes, spiders, and shocks oh my! Wes Craven's Deadly Blessing.
Just a few years before Mr. Wes Craven reinvented himself to the world of horror with his brilliant dream bending thriller A Nightmare On Elm Street, he was in a small state of limbo as the 1980's began. Having made two of the most violent movies in the 1970's. Last House On The Left, and The Hills Have Eyes. Keeping busy the last few years with television work, he made an extremely underrated thriller that often goes under the radar when one looks over his very impressive career. This was with 1981's Deadly Blessing.
PLOT – When former member of a religious cult dies in a mysterious accident, his wife now lives alone and close to the cult's church. Fearing for her life and her friends, strange and deadly events begin to happen...
LOWDOWN – I've been a Wes Craven fan for years. I have fond memories of being scared shitless from A Nightmare On Elm Street (In fact I like to think re-watching this movie over and over again to get over my fear was a huge reason why I ended up loving horror so much.) I was a huge Scream nut growing up, being able to see the last three sequels in theaters. I'm also a huge fan of his underrated work. Such as Deadly Friend, The people Under The Stairs, and of course Shocker. In my eyes this is after Raimi and Carpenter one of the greatest horror directors of all time. He was able to make gritty brutal rape revenge movies with Last House and Hills, and then very smartly transformed into the 1980's creating a new villain that many of us would forever fear and love. I think what makes Craven such a great director is his underrated work. These are original works that aren't as hyped up as Elm Street, Last House, and Hills. These are his works that fell under the radar that many may not even know about but vaguely remember watching growing up. I can't even begin with my love for Deadly Friend and how I forced many of my friends to watch it over and over and over again. Same goes with People Under The Stairs and Shocker. These are great pieces of work that made a very insane universe dealing with terror and fear.
With Deadly Blessing I had always heard about it, yet never saw it. It wasn't until the ever so amazing Scream Factory for seriously releasing some of the hardest titles to find today, classics that we all grew up loving and remembering from our childhood. The great thing about Scream Factory is the fact their releasing movies that have long since been out of print or were released with bare bones DVDs. These discs are offered with breathtaking new artwork with reversible slip covers if you want to display the original artwork. The extras, commentaries, interviews, and documentaries are out of this world for any hard core fan. Also the blu-ray transfer is nothing less than stunning.
Yesterday while looking around my local record store I spotted a copy of Deadly Blessing and decided to take the risk in doing a complete blind. I felt that from the positive things I had heard, and the fact I have been such a big Wes Craven far, it would be pretty hard to disappoint. But then again when I finally got my hands on a VHS copy of Invitation To Hell, I was less than a little impressed. So finally I sat back and watched the very creepy and unsettling tale that makes me NEVER wanting to go to Amish country e-v-e-r.
The best way I can describe this movie is comparing it to Dark Night Of The Scarecrow. Now I know these movies really don't have much in common besides being set in farm land, but maybe it's the score of the very unsettling storyline that makes me compare these two. Deadly Blessing is a great thriller. It takes it's time with it's pacing, setting along perfectly the tension and the fact that something is off in this beautiful countryside.
This is great pacing/writing at it's finest. Craven created a world where all is not what it seems and you can't help but feel the building tension that begins to surround these three women.
With appearances by a very young and lovely Sharon Stone, Pumpkinhead's Jeff East, Hills Have Eyes's Michael Berrymann, and veteran actor Ernest Borgnine. This is a solid cast that seriously makes the film.
Another huge element I think that worked very well was the use of those fucking spiders and snakes. Now a days this little trick is overused to the point it's laughable. Back then, Craven knew exactly what he was doing and even showed a small preview of things to come with his use of nightmares and dreams. The bathtub snake bit will forever be burned into my memory...
Another huge element that worked was of course the score, and the insane ending. There are like nine twists thrown at once. Without spoiling things, I'm sure I won't be the only one who was left completely puzzled and more than a little creeped out at the ending scene. It seemed like a Tales From The Darkside episode on crack.
So I highly recommend this thriller to anyone who enjoys Craven's early work, or likes movies that have the feel of back when made for TV movies were bad ass from the 1980's. In fact I was pretty stunned to find this wasn't a TV movie. Now this isn't for everyone, but I can't urge any horror fan enough to check out this movie. It's a great creepy film with a stunning transfer and more than enough extras to make for a very interesting after noon.