Deadly Blessing on DVD

Thursday, 22 December 2011 06:55

A God-fearing and insular Hittite community clashes with their neighbours in this 1981 horror film from Wes Craven (“A Nightmare on Elm Street”, “Scream” and “The Hills Have Eyes”). When Martha (Maren Jensen – original Battlestar Galactica) loses her ex-commune husband in a tragic accident, the Hittites exert pressure on her to sell her farm and move out. She refuses and shortly afterwards the death toll starts to rise. Meanwhile, accusations of a sinister demonic presence sour local relations to breaking point.

The film co-stars Ernest Borgnine (“The Black Hole”, “Escape From New York”, Airwolf) as Isaiah, the Hittites’ very strict Elder, Sharon Stone (“Total Recall”, “Casino”) in her first speaking role and Susan Buckner (“Grease”) as Martha’s friends who foolishly come to stay, and dependable horror staple Michael Berryman (“The Hills Have Eyes”, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”) as – you guessed it – the resident freak.

Deadly Blessing out on DVDA curious mix of “Children of the Corn”, “The Village” and “Night of the Demon”, this movie is quite refreshing in that it resists the urge to pile on the corpses and go all-out on gore. What you get instead is a lot of character development, nerve-jangling scenes of Martha and her friends tiptoeing about in their dark and foreboding barn, and dollops of friction between the Hittites and everyone else.

A tense and unsettled atmosphere runs throughout the entire film, to good effect. The string-heavy soundtrack is unoriginal but nevertheless does a solid job of complementing the action. Craven’s direction mixes up ominous, stalking, first-person shots with third-person reactions to keep the audience on their toes.

Also noteworthy is that this movie focuses on strong female characters. With the exception of Lana (Stone), these women do not cower, scream and fall to pieces at the slightest hint of danger. They ignore the piercing, disapproving gazes of the religious zealots and act more naturally in perilous situations than your average horror heroine.

All-told, this is an effective if unremarkable thriller with some appealing characters, lots of red herrings to keep you guessing and an incongruous, nutty ending thrown in that will either tickle you or leave you cold! Why not watch this to find out?

Special features on this release include:

  • Introduction by star Michael Berryman
  • “Craven Images: The Horror Hits of Michael Berryman” – an interview with Deadly Blessing’s iconic star
  • “Deadly Desires” – an interview with screenwriter Glenn M. Benest
  • Original trailer
  • Easter eggs
  • Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Rue Morgue art director Gary Pullin
  • Double-sided fold-out artwork poster
  • Collectors’ booklet featuring brand new writing on the film by author and critic Kim Newman
  • Original 1.78:1 anamorphic aspect ratio presentation
  • Original mono 1.0 audio

The interviews with Berryman and Benest are fairly interesting. It is plain that Berryman has little love for the remakes of “The Hills Have Eyes”, and his point about character being more important that gore is a good one. “Deadly Blessing” gets this balance spot on.

“Deadly Blessing” (1981) is out now, courtesy of Arrow Video. The main feature has a running time of 98 minutes approx, carries a ‘15’ certificate and retails for £15.99, or less from

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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