Wes Craven’s early work was pretty solid. I’ve seen all the classics and they hold a special place in my heart. Probably my favorite growing up was surprisingly, Deadly Blessing. This strikes people as odd. I’ll explain. I would rabidly consume anything featuring an actor or actress I liked, any movie or TV appearance was immediately on my most see list as long as it featured an actor I was into. Maren Jenen, being on Battlestar Gallactica and having few credits to her name, was most sought after and so Deadly Blessing became a special film.
Deadly Blessing opens with Martha Schmidt (Maren Jensen) and her Brawny Man husband Jim (Doug Barr) happy and expecting their first child. Things are pretty normal except for the weird Amish people next door lead by Ernest Borgnine’s Isaiah. They seem quiet except for William (Michael Berryman) who constantly harasses young Faith (Lisa Hartman).
After Jim informs the mother hen of the Hittites, Louisa (Lois Nettleton), that he and Martha are expecting a child, he turns up dead. Distraught and alone, Martha calls on her friends Lana (Sharon Stone) and Vicky (Susan Buckner) to keep her company. Their arrival sets several things into motion that threatens to destroy Martha and her less happy by the moment home.
Deadly Blessing is one of Wes Craven’s earliest films but shows the control and increasing mastery of suspense that he was gaining. As an example, a scene involving a gas drenched car and an incoming flame. The scene toys with our expectations several times before heading towards a payoff that we were never sure we were gonna get. Also look for the bathtub scene which of course he repeated in a Nightmare on Elm Street, but also has echos of Cronenberg’s It Came From Within.
Also satisfying is the ending which given the grounded and subtle execution of the film as a whole, comes as a shock and surprise. I jumped out of my seat because I just didn’t see it coming. If you will be watching this for the first time, I highly suggest that you crank up the sound for the end scenes.
As for the cast, what can you say? It’s like a time capsule of my childhood. Maren Jensen played Athena on Battlestar Galactica, Susan Buckner was in Grease, Jeff East played Young Clark Kent in Superman the Movie, the list goes on. Everyone is sharp and believable in the film and that really helps bring such an odd story to life.
Ernest Borgnine is scary as the head Hittite. He has a presence and wild look in his eyes that says “Don’t mess with me” and I wouldn’t. Sharon Stone is as gorgeous and sexy as ever and has a couple a good character scenes.
There is a lot of eye candy in the film, and not just Sharon, Susan and Maren. Mother hen Lois Nettleton is sexy as hell in a Hee-Haw kinda way and of course we have super sexy Lisa Hartman plays a young painter who has been labeled the Incubus. Is she misunderstood?
This is a fun film. Not traditionally spooky but more in line with the likes of The Devil’s Rain with its rural feel and setting. Good performances all around and a shocker ending make this one a keeper. Check it out; I think you’ll enjoy it.
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