DEADLY BLESSING (1981) Reviews and overview

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‘Pray you’re not blessed’

Deadly Blessing is a 1981 American horror feature film directed by Wes Craven (The Last House on the Left; The Hills Have Eyes; Scream) from a screenplay co-written with Glenn M. Benest
and Matthew Barr based on their storyline.

The Polygram Pictures-Inter Planetary production stars Ernest Borgnine (Willard), Maren Jensen (in her last screen appearance) and Sharon Stone (Basic Instinct and sequel; Scissors) in an early film role.

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When Martha marries into a close-knit sect she finds herself shunned as an outsider by its fanatical members, but when her husband dies mysteriously while riding a tractor expressly forbidden as a tool of the devil, things take a darker turn.

Marked as an incubus by her neighbours, time is running out for Martha and her visiting friends, as plagued by nightmares and fearing for their lives, they face the violent fury and retribution of old-time religion…

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Reviews:

“One of Wes Craven’s most neglected Eighties fear-flicks is actually an important stepping stone in his development towards A Nightmare on Elm Street, featuring the same heady mix of strong female leads, feverish dream sequences and nail-biting suspense.” Eye for Film

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There is some fun to be had here, primarily in the shape of Ernest Borgnine and a scare scene involving chickens, but really the entire thing is sort of just incoherent and forgettable.” Brutal as Hell

” … a minor miracle. A consummately crafted small genre movie with more ideas than most big movies you can name… Wes Craven might be the man to bring horror films out of their current dark ages.” Village Voice

“Craven carefully builds tension and dread with his effectively restrained direction. He masterfully lulls us into believing that the religious order are responsible for the attempts on the lives of Martha and her friends, and while his presentation of them is largely two dimensional, it nonetheless remains cold and sinister. He makes great use of autumnal settings and the whole film is tinged with a strange melancholy.” Behind the Couch

“While Deadly Blessing‘s effects are certainly serviceable, they are not the selling points of the picture, and that’s one of the things that set it outside the slasher subgenre and perhaps kept it from being a blockbuster, although it made some money for the studio and brought Craven more favorable attention from critics.” John Wooley, Wes Craven: The Man and His Nightmares

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Release:

Deadly Blessing was released on 14 August 1981.

On 4 September 2017, Deadly Blessing was re-released in the UK as a single-disc Blu-ray by Arrow Video.

Cast and characters:

Maren Jensen … Martha Schmidt
Sharon Stone … Lana Marcus
Susan Buckner … Vicky Anderson
Jeff East … John Schmidt
Colleen Riley … Melissa (as Coleen Riley)
Douglas Barr … Jim Schmidt (as Doug Barr)
Lisa Hartman … Faith Stohler
Lois Nettleton … Louisa Stohler
Ernest Borgnine … Isaiah Schmidt
Michael Berryman … William Gluntz
Kevin Cooney … Sheriff
Bobby Dark … Theatre Manager
Kevin Farr … Fat Boy
Neil Fletcher … Gravedigger
Jonathon Gulla … Tom Schmidt
Chester Kulas Jr. … Leopold
Lawrence Montaigne … Matthew Gluntz
Lucky Mosley … Sammy
Dan Shackleford … Medic
Annabelle Weenick … Ruth Schmidt
Jenna Worthen … Mrs. Gluntz
Percy Rodrigues … Narrator (voice)

Filming locations:

Waxahachie, Texas (Martha Schmidt’s home)
Bardwell, Texas (town store)
Tara Movie Theater, Ennis, Texas
Isaiah Schmidt Ranch, Carrollton, Texas

Filming dates:
10th November 1980

Technical details:
1 hour 40 minutes
Audio: Mono
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1

Trailer:

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