Butler County Times Gazette
by Garon Cockrell
Deadly Blessing: Collector’s Edition DVD Review
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March 26, 2013 5:25 p.m.

Deadly Blessing is a horror film that takes place on farmland where

a cult called the Hittites brushes against the surrounding townspeople,

resulting in murder. It was directed by Wes Craven, who had previously directed

The Last House On The Left and The Hills Have Eyes. While Deadly Blessing isnít nearly as scary as

those two films, it does a great job of maintaining a creepy, unsettling

atmosphere throughout. And there are some good scares (the snake in the bath

tub seriously freaked me out).

The Hittites are an

Amish-like group who have shunned the modern world. But of course their land

borders on a modern farm, which is owned by a couple Ė Jim (Doug Barr) and

Martha (Maren Jensen). Jim is an ex-Hittite, and was the first from the cult to

go away to school. When he returned, he was with Martha, and was

ex-communicated from the cult, which is led by his own father, Isaiah (Ernest

Borgnine). Isaiah calls Martha the incubus (which is interesting, as an incubus

is traditionally thought of as a male demon).

Soon Jim is killed in his

own barn. We then see some of the Hittites sneak into the barn, including

William (played by Michael Berryman, from The

Hills Have Eyes
). Earlier we saw William frightening Faith (Lisa Hartman)

while she was painting.

After Jimís death, two of

Marthaís friends -- Lana (Sharon Stone) and Vicky (Susan Buckner) -- come to

visit her, to comfort her. This is essentially Sharon Stoneís first film.

Before this, she had been basically a featured extra in Woody Allenís Stardust Memories. So yes, this

is long before Sharon Stone learned how to act (but she looks great).

William spies on Martha through

her bedroom window while she changes. Itís very creepy, mostly because he seems

so childlike. Then suddenly heís killed. So now whoís spying on her through her

window?  As viewers, we come to suspect a

lot of people could have been responsible for Jimís murder. However, oddly, the

authorities donít seem to be investigating it at all. In fact, they really only

come around again when William has been killed. We even suspect Isaiah after he

tells Martha his sonís land should be with his people.

Farms are always a bit

creepy, and cults are always very creepy (yes, that includes you,

Scientologists). We do get a scene of an official cult meeting, where Isaiah

dishes out punishment to a young member. Itís effective at showing the type of

person Isaiah is, and how the others are obedient, and it also sets up the

scene where he later punishes his own son, John, who has taken an interest in


As I said, the film has a great atmosphere, and a good

look. And some of the cast is really strong. Plus, you get to hear Ernest

Borgnine shout, ďYou are a stench in the

nostrils of God!

Special Features

This Collectorís Edition disc

has quite a lot of special features. There is a commentary track by director

Wes Craven. Wes Craven tends to do really good commentaries. For some reason,

this one is moderated, but the moderator does a good job not imposing too much.

Wes talks about how he did a pretty thorough re-write on the script. And he

tells some interesting tales about the film. The producers interfered on only a few points. One was that Wes

Craven was told that Sharon Stone had to be cast, and that she had to wear lingerie. Also,

the ending was tacked on at the insistence of the producers. The story about Sharon

Stoneís reaction to the spider is also interesting. Wes talks about some of the

things that interested him in this project (though he also admits it was the

paycheck), including the fact that he was raised as a strict Baptist, and so

knew about repression. He talks about how his father was frightening, and that

he died when Wes was young, and how that has led to some of the figures in his

horror films. He tells the story of Borgnine being injured on this film, and

talks about shooting in Texas. I was completely appalled by what Wes Craven

said about the crewís reaction to John Lennonís death, which happened at the

time of the production (they applauded Ė one more reason to dislike Texas).

This disc also includes

several interviews with cast and crew.  Say Your Prayers! is an interview with

actor Michael Berryman, in which he talks a bit about The Hills Have Eyes, but mainly, of course, about Deadly Blessing. He talks about his

character, the location, the other actors and about the hanging scene. This

feature is approximately fourteen minutes.

Secrets Revealed is an interview with actor Susan Buckner, in which

she talks about her start in the industry, about Grease, and about the other actors in Deadly Blessing. She was pregnant during the shooting, but didnít

tell anyone. This feature is approximately thirteen minutes.

Rise Of The Incubus is an interview with creature designer John

Naulin, who talks about the design for the creature at the end of the

film.  This is approximately six and a

half minutes.

So It Was Written is an interview with writers Glenn Benest and

Matthew Barr, who discuss the Amish, and the idea of a repressive religious

cult. They talk about re-writes, about being on set during production, and

about the added ending (which they didnít like). This feature is approximately

twenty minutes.

This disc also includes

the filmís trailer, three television spots, five radio spots and a photo


The Collectorís Edition

of Deadly Blessing was

released on January 22, 2013 through Scream Factory (a division of Shout! Factory).

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