Late one night, Jim is out in his barn and is murdered, the victim of his own tractor. Marked down as an accident by the local, ineffectual police, Martha continues to stay on the farm in the face of resentment and mild/vague threats from the Hittites. Her city friends Lana (Sharon Stone) and Vicky (Susan Buckner) come to stay with her, which was a good idea, because then a lot of weird shit starts to happen. They're stalked by the mentally deficient William, there's creepy encounters in the barn, nightmare visions of spiders, an attack by a snake, some murders, explosions, and some really, really crazy-weird shit at the end.
The finale of Deadly Blessing doesn't come out of left field so much as it comes out of another ballpark entirely. It definitely makes the film memorable, as the last 15 minutes features not one, but two incredibly fucked up things, things that make the middling previous hour+ seem totally worth it. Things go out with a bang, that's for sure.
I'm not going to spoil it for those who haven't seen it, I didn't know about it when I watched it and was pleasantly surprised, so to preserve that for anyone that desires it, I'll speak in the vaguest terms to those that have seen it: Alright, when Martha's getting chased and attacked and then that one thing happens and is revealed, I was all like, "whaaaaaat??," and I thought this movie just went to a weird place, and I kind of liked it, even though it might not make all that much sense, I still respected the movie for going there. After all that though, at the very end of the film, there's some really truly crazy weird shit that goes down and I was all like, "whaaaaaaaat?areyoukiddingmeeee??" What an almost totally random ending, just bonkers! I guess this ending was tacked on (surprise, surprise) after the film was finished and the producers wanted a little more "oomph" to the ending. Craven filmed it, but I guess he regrets it now. The effects were done by an uncredited John Naulin, who would also do effects work on Re-Animator (1985) and From Beyond (1986). They wanted "oomph." Mission accomplished.
One of the more suspenseful scenes in Deadly Blessing is when Lana gets trapped in the barn and is stalked by an unseen foe. The doors get locked, the shutters slammed, she stumbles through cobwebs, and finds a dead body. It's probably the film's best sequence of onscreen terror. Lana also starts having strange dreams, involving somebody whispering her name and containing ominous spider imagery. In one dream scene, a pair of hands hold her head and a big, hairy spider drops into her open mouth (!), something that Sharon Stone actually did (!!). This was an early role for Stone, her first one of significance, and she does a decent job playing confused and troubled Lana. She would uncross her legs to fame in Basic Instinct (1992), a film I find rather overrated (heck, I might even prefer Deadly Blessing).
Razzie Award for his performance in Deadly Blessing, but I don't think that's quite fair, as his wild-eyed performance is one of the redeeming factors within the film. The movie could honestly use more of his crazy eyebrows.
Also, Borgnine was quite the trooper. He suffered a severe accident while filming Deadly Blessing, when a buggy he was in was flipped after some horses freaked out. Borgnine spent a week in the hospital, healed up, and came back to work, like it was no big deal. Now THAT is professionalism.
Maren Jensen and Susan Buckner apparently had a terrible time making this movie, as they would both give up acting after Deadly Blessing. Before this Maren Jensen was in the short lived cult TV sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica and Susan Buckner was in the hit musical movie Grease (1978) as Patty Simcox. Buckner seems likable enough, but Jensen doesn't really bring anything to the table, which for the female lead in the film is a slight problem. It's never made clear why her character is so stubborn and insists on staying on this farm after her husbands death, which Jensen doesn't really seem to convey much grief over.
Speaking of poor old Jim, Douglas Barr would co-star with David Rappaport in a short lived TV-series that I seem to be one of the few people to remember, called The Wizard. Lisa Hartman, who played weirdo neighbor Faith, would go on to be a regular cast member of mega-hit nighttime soap-opera Knots Landing.
Jeff East had worked with Wes Craven previously on his TV-movie Stranger in our House (aka: Summer of Fear, 1978). The curly-headed East reminds me of a doofy William Katt-type. He got his start playing Huckleberry Finn in Tom Sawyer (1973) and (duh) Huckleberry Finn (1974) and he also played young Clark Kent in Superman (1978) and was also one of the doomed kids in Pumpkinhead (1988). Just typing that made me remember how much I like Pumpkinhead... raise your hand if you do to.
|Wes Craven would reuse this imagery of bathtub terrors in A Nightmare on Elm Street, replacing the snake with Freddy Kruger's glove.|
Commerce section: Deadly Blessing is available on DVD & Blu-Ray on a new special edition, full of interviews, a commentary, and all that good stuff, from the fine folks over at Scream Factory.
|Laugh if you want, you'd make the same face with a spider on your chest.|
|The face made after finishing experiencing Deadly Blessing.|