DEADLY BLESSING (1981)
D. WES CRAVEN
Surprisingly enough I had never seen this extremely mild Wes Craven shocker. Everyone remembers the infamous cover art of a busty woman with a spider dropping into her mouth. But for reasons I do not know I never bothered with the movie. I suppose I had heard it was too tame or not very good and just passed it over for meatier fare. Now that I have seen it, I can safely say the film IS too tame for it's own good, but there is some god stuff to offer anyway.
Maren Jensen stars as a young, pregnant woman living in Mennonite country. The late, great Earnest Borgnine stars as the head of the local chapter of the Mennonite's who disprove of her and her husband (who is also Borgnine's fallen away son). Michael Berryman is the semi retarded guy living with the Mennonites who chases around anyone who he thinks are evil, including the teenage artist who lives in a farm down the way. In fact he is constantly harassing her, calling her an Incubus and the whore of the devil. The husband is found killed, so our heroine calls in two former her girlfriends to stay with her for moral support including a very young Sharon Stone and Susan Buckner. Soon all three women are being tormented by things like snakes in the bathtub and spiders.
This is certainly not the first film written and directed by Craven that attacks religious structures and family values. Three fourths of the film make the Mennonites out to be the bad guys. Their repression being the true root of the evil they are so terrified of. But the movie takes a turn in the final reel, delivering us information that was previously not revealed which changes everything. This final bit of action, though nothing new all there years later is certainly groundbreaking for 1981. It really makes the movie feel like there are layers there that very well may not be.
Not a groundbreaking film, too slow moving and staid for it's own good, but still worth a look. Especially for fans of the troubled creator. Rumor has it that Sharon Stone was having an affair with the director's wife during production. But that is certainly not verifiable.
Review © Andrew Copp