Deadly Blessing (1981)

USA,
100m
35mm film, Metrocolor, 1.85:1
mono, English

An American horror film directed by Wes Craven.

Plot Summary

A woman, Martha, is left alone and defenceless when her husband, a former member of a nearby religious sect known as the Hittites, dies in a mysterious tractor accident. The Hittites regard Martha as the incubus and seem to have secret plans for her…

Credits

Crew
Directed by: Wes Craven
© MCMLXXXI [1981] Polygram Pictures Ltd
Polygram Pictures presents an Inter Planetary production
Executive Producer: William Gilmore
Produced by: Patricia S. Herskovic, Max A. Keller, Micheline H. Keller
Associate Producers: Glenn M. Benest, Matthew Barr
Screen play by: Glenn M. Benest & Matthew Barr and Wes Craven
Story by: Glenn M. Benest & Matthew Barr
Director of Photography: Robert Jessup
Edited by: Richard Bracken
Music Composed by: James Horner
Sound Mixer: Bob Wald
Costume Designer: Patricia McKiernan
Makeup Artist: Jimi White
Hair Stylist: Lynn Decker
Special Effects: Jack Bennett
Production Designer: Jack Marty

Cast
Maren Jensen (Martha)
Sharon Stone (Lana Marcus)
Susan Buckner (Vicky)
Jeff East (John Schmidt)
Coleen Riley (Melissa)
Doug Barr (Jim)
Lisa Hartman (Faith)
Lois Nettleton (Louisa)
Ernest Borgnine (Isaiah)
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 Rodriguez (narrator)

Includes extracts from
Stranger in Our House (1978)

Press

1982
Melody Maker 6 February 1982 p.6
Bizarre and energetic at their best, quickie shockers jolt from trigger to horror with hammocks of inept explanation between. Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes had, reportedly, a certain crude power along the lines of Tobe Hooper's Texas Chainsaw Massacre; his latest offering has none. As far as Deadly Blessing is concerned, the hammocks have it. […] Apart from Ernest Borgnine, no-one seems altogether sure about what they're exploiting, and one actress can't pass a bed-knob without giving it a stroke. Borgnine's part as the unbending Elder must have come like a late residual from Bad Day at Black Rock, a return to the old glue-pot and bog brush beard, shovel hat and Mount Rushmore principles. The main qualification to join Craven's Hittites seems to be a squashed head, though a hump would probably slip by. Like all movie puritans, they wear their collar button buttoned, no matter how often they threaten their trousers by taking the belt to some poor bugger in the barn. – from an illustrated review by Brian Case

New Musical Express 6 February 1982 p.19
The strength of Deadly Blessing isn't just the way in which [the] menacing dreams presage curious deaths, but the way in which they invade the narrative of the film and become part of its store of hallucinated images – paint cans exploding like bloody corpses. Things coming through the floorboards, chickens flying out of coffins, cars a-flame, bloody soapsuds, buttermilk turned to blood, and (truly one of the great scenes in horror cinema) right there in the bathwater with the soap. Craven exploits his haunted house (and barn) themes for all they're worth, while at the same time posing important questions about puritanism, guilt, family, sex, and voyeurism. And to his credit. The director isn't just interested in the “brimstone-for-breakfast” religious nutters for their own sake, he also probes behind the friendly smiling face of the ordinary people in the community. You'll be surprised by what Craven can do with a simple mother-daughter relationship and you might even jump in your seat at what goes on behind the mom ‘n' apple pie façade of some of those little houses on the prairie… – from an illustrated review (Silver screen) by Paul Tickell

References

Periodicals

  • Cinefantastique vol.11 no.4 (December 1981) p.12
  • Écran Fantastique no.24 (1982) p.21
  • Empire no.221 (November 2007) p.202 – illustrated DVD review (At home: DVD reissues: Deadly Blessing by Kim Newman)
  • Films and Filming no.329 (February 1982) p.33-34
  • Melody Maker 6 February 1982 p.6 – illustrated review (by Brian Case)
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.49 no.577 (February 1982) pp.25-6
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.49 no.580 (May 1982) p.99
  • Motion Picture Product Digest vol.9 no.7 (2 September 1981) p.26
  • Screen International no.330 (13 February 1982) p.36
  • Starburst no.45 (1982) p.24-25
  • Variety 19 August 1981 p.21

Books

  • The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.361
  • Film Review 1982-1983 by F. Maurice Speed (ed.) p.147 – credits, review
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films II by Donald C. Willis p.85
  • Horror Films of the 1980s by John Kenneth Muir pp.151-153 – credits, synopsis, review