DVDs From Sledge: Part I: Deadly Blessing

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC DVDs From Sledge: Part I: Deadly Blessing

Tomorrow is the big day for my next ’11 Questions with…’ This time it’s going to be a bonus sized edition with legendary filmmaker John Carpenter on Monday April 2nd 2012! In the mean time check this out…

I feel as if I of all people should have an April Fool’s day post.

It just seems wrong that I shouldn’t, or don’t. But… this is the case.

So instead, this fool with just post on April Fool’s day and everyone will have to live with the heartbreaking fact that nothing more humorously out of the norm or shocking will belch forth from me… today at least. Anyroadup…

When it comes to the sort of thing I do here, or any sort of film related activity in general I’m a bit of a “lone wolf” (to make myself sound a bit cooler than I am.)

If someone directs, demands or even asks slightly forcibly (but still politely) for me to do something chances are it will get done slowly. Don’t know why. I don’t MEAN to be a dick, but it happens, for better or worse. I like to do this stuff my way, at my pace… Anywho, it especially happens when the proprietor of this site, Alton, or Sledge to you all, specifically wishes for me to work on something. He’s the Martin to my Lewis, the Abbott to my Costello, the French to my Saunders, if you will. I just feel, deep in the pit of my soul, that there should be some conflict there and so it is (even if it is very mild, unknown on his part and slightly intentional on mine.)

Anyways, on this subject, sire Sledge sent me a batch of screener DVD’s a while back (a good while back I might add,) all or most up my alley (Frankenhooker will be nice to revisit,) for to be reviewed in some way shape or form.

So, after much procrastination and posting of much more pressing (the Clone a Penis thing for instance) articles, here is the first of THOSE demanded of me by the affor-mentioned Alton Sledgeworth the 14th, esq, OBGYN.

Wes Craven’s bit of semi-OK, halfway decent, horror mediocrity from 1981, Deadly Blessing (as presented gloriously by Cult Release Superstars, Arrow Films.)

Plot wise the film is a bit of a mess.

Part slasher film, part supernatural horror, with a novel for the time Amish setting (Hittite if we must be specific,) some brief, out of the blue transgendered romance, curses, people who aren’t incubuses, people who ARE incubuses and a whole lot of confusion.

Starts off with this couple, they live on an isolated farm, husband used to be a Hittite, but not anymore. He gets killed by his tractor. The locales think the wife is an incubus because her harloting, feminine wiles caused said tractor to run over hubby. A couple of her girlfriends visit from the big city to chillax her out (one of them played by Sharon Stone, in her film debut.) Ernest Borgnine shows up, chewing the scenery like a madman, as the crazed leader of the locales, he wants to buy the farm (not die, literally purchase the farm of wife and dead husband) she refuses to sell. More people die, including genre stalwart Michael Berryman, wife has nightmares, a shirt rips open revealing some non-boobies on a lady… There’s a lot going on and it’s all kind of random and nonsensical. Anyways, turns out wife wasn’t an incubus and some local crazies were doin the killin’s. Everything is OK! Then a real incubus shows up and drags wifey down to hell. The end.

If it sounds like I’m hating on the movie, I’m not meaning to. It’s OK. Decent kill scenes. There’s a nice bit (shot exactly like the reveal of Fred Krueger’s glove in the bathtub, Wes, did we get lazy?) involving a snake and a vaginal area, a real spider gets plonked into Sharon’s mouth, a few good stabbings, and of course the most terrifying thing of all, Ernest Borgnine’s eyebrows, are all there and they work just fine, or at least serviceably.

As always with Wes Craven the film is gorgeously shot, making excellent work of the wide open spaces and desolate locale. And, there is a tid bit of reasonable suspense milked from the shadowy barn stalkings and such. The acting, aside from (the always wonderful) Borgnine playing to the cheap seats, and Berryman giving one of his typical grunt-hiss-is-he-or-isnt-he-retarded performances is decent, if leaning toward the side of bland. And the script puts forth some decent ideas, even if none of them are followed through on or resolved in the slightest. It IS a film to watch for fans of the genre, but newbies might wanna look for something a bit more thrilling and less convoluted.

It’s different though. I’ll give it that much. Very different.

The DVD from Arrow Films has been meticulously crafted, as are all their releases. The picture is crisp, the sound is dynamic, to be cliche, Deadly Blessing probably hasn’t looked this good since it’s release 31 years ago. As is the norm for Arrow Films you get some choice with your packaging, both excellent (better than the original poster art in fact.) Special features for a film of this non-loved nature are usually rare and nothing more than a trailer, but Arrow went all out, and has proven their mantle as the new (and possibly superior) AnchorBay and brought us a decent selection.

First, a brief (optional) introduction from Michael Berryman. It’s succinct and to the point.

Next there’s Craven Images, a longish, informative interview, again with star Michael Berryman, of this film, and Craven’s original The Hills Have Eyes (among MANY other genre entries, my personal favorite being Ruggero Deodato’s 1985 Gut Munching Actioner Cut and Run.) The interview was a bit of a revelation for me as I had never really heard Berryman speak, out of character before. He’s quite intelligent (has two degrees) and well spoken, nothing like the lumbering, barely human psychopaths he usually plays. The interview starts off well, lapses into mild bitchery on his part, but becomes a bit dull toward the end. Still, good stuff.

Then we get Deadly Desires, an interview with the screenwriter of the film Glenn M. Benest. He’s not as fun to listen to as Berryman, and once again the piece goes on a bit too long, but he provides a lot of insight into the film and how it became the bit of a muddled mess it became (behind the scenes interfering will kill a picture every time, huh?) Benest is a TAD deluded over the “cult status” of the movie, but overall, is also a good listen for fans of this sort of thing.

On hand as well of course is the de rigor Original Theatrical Trailer, cleaned up and sparkly (still kind of over long, dull and spoilery as they often were at the time.) And, a couple cheeky Easter Eggs I’ll leave you to discover for yourself.

That’s it folks!

The movie may not be cool enough to “build a barn from your bones” as one of the more over the top (read: fabulous) taglines suggests so luridly, but the DVD certainly isn’t bare bones for an obscure release such as this. Arrow Films continues it’s tradition of grand special editions, for movies that generally wouldn’t get such treatment and I couldn’t be happier for it!

5 out of 10 Carton’s of Blood Milk!

9 out of 10 Glistening bits of lovely, hand painted poster art!

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