FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Aug 13, 2012

Film Club: Deadly Blessing

I'm...not exactly sure how to write about Wes Craven's 1981 shocker Shocker Deadly Blessing. It's kind of a seven-layer dip of a movie: all these different flavors competing with each other but trying to work together, turning into a big mess that sits in your stomach like a gelatinous lump of regret. Mind you, the regret comes later; while you're eating it, your eyes focus on some distant, imaginary point and you find yourself saying a little too loudly, "I don't know what's happening to me and I'm not sure if I entirely like it, but I might and so I'll just keep going." Yes, in this way Deadly Blessing is exactly like a seven-layer dip.

So you've got Jim (Douglas Barr) and his wife Martha (Maren Jensen, who was Athena on the original Battlestar Galactica and what more do you need to know) tending to their farm in a young, carefree fashion. To one side of their land they've got the Hittites, a wackadoo religious sect led by Isaiah (Ernest fucking Borgnine). On t'other they've got Louisa (Lois Nettleton) and Faith (a pre-nosejob Lisa Hartman), a wackadoo mother and daughter.

And then stuff happens.

I mean really, it's true- a bunch of stuff happens and I swear, I was scratching my head trying to connect the dots to basically no avail. Stuff. Just. Happens.
  • In the dead of night, Jim gets run over in his barn by his tractor. Was someone driving the tractor? We don't know.
  • Hittite Michael Berryman lurks a lot, and for a while you think "Okay, so Deadly Blessing is about this creeper..." but then he's stabbed and killed by someone. BUT WHO, DEADLY BLESSING? BUT WHO.
  • Isaiah calls all the non-Hittite women "incubus". What? Does he mean "succubus"? Does he mean anything? We don't know.
Isaiah about to slap the Satan right outta dat William Katt-alike
  • Lana (Sharon Stone) and Vicky (Susan Buckner), old pals of Martha, show up to help the young widow ease into young widowhood.
  • A dog gets a blast of mace to the face!
  • "You are a stench in a nostril to God." - Isaiah
  • Lana starts dreaming about a guy and spiders and a guy who is a spider, and everyone is like "Shut up, Lana."
  • Sharon Stone, amirite? I mean, in this movie a spider goes in her mouth! She did a shit ton of work before 1992, when a simple flash-o-vagina brought her stardom in Basic Instinct. I am just saying, let's give that broad some credit. If not for this, then for 1984's Calendar Girl Murders.
  • Ill-timed, overblown music cues turn ordinary moments into big exciting movie moments, like, say, Martha putting her hair in a ponytail.
  • Lana has a run-in with some spiders and maybe a guy in the barn and she cries a lot, and everyone is like "Get over it, Lana."
  • Someone is killing people! Sometimes by practical means, like stabbing or setting a car on fire with the driver inside...and sometimes by nonsensical means, like putting a snake in a bathtub. And I'm going to pretend that the shot of Nancy in the tub in A Nightmare on Elm Street was Wes Craven saying "Hey guys, remember when I had this same shot in Deadly Blessing? What the heck was with that movie, anyway? That was some seven-layer dip shit!"
  • Lana goes to pour some milk only to discover that someone has replaced the milk with Folgers Crystals blood! She screams and makes a mess everywhere, and everyone is like "Lana, GO HOME."
  • There's a coffin full of chickens.
Y'all, this movie is really as all-over-the-place as I've made it out to be. Deadly Blessing is a hot mess, a bunch of storylines competing for dominance and making practically no sense.

But then...the last ten minutes. I'm not going to give away anything here, because...the last ten minutes of this film should not be given away. Let me just say that it's jaw-dropping. It is women punching, shooting, flying around due to punches and/or gunshots, and making crazy faces. It is a big pile of total what-the-fuckery, and it completely redeems all that came before. And just when you think it is over, it is not. And then your jaw- still dropped!- will say "fuck this" and throw itself out your window. It's amazing.

So for that and also this production still of Martha, Lana, and Vicky? I will certainly regret you later, Deadly Blessing, but for win. You win.

Totally lezzed out together in college.


Give it up for the Film Club Coolies!
Slasher Studios
The Life and Times of a Cineman
Soresport Movies
Vegan Voorhees
JDC's Little Hill
Zombie Club
Into the Mirror
Aphorisms and Ectoplasm
Mermaid Heather


Darcy said...

Ha. Thank you. I did not get around to doing this Film Club, but I will say, I have Never regretted eating (the whole bowl of) seven layer dip.

Phantasmagoria said...

"let's give that broad some credit.." Yeah let's..Stone is sizzling hot in that pic...

Carrie said...

Incubus? Yeah, sure, incubus!

The last ten minutes were another, much better, movie that I loved. I think Stacie should make that movie!

Dave Enkosky said...

I didn't much care for this movie, but reading your review made me appreciate the ending a little more.

Michael Grover said...

Actually, in that first screenshot, Isaiah seems to be saying, "I have no need for thy wicked deodorant! The lord hath blessed my armpits, and they remain dry and fresh all day!"

Mulholland said...

There seem to be a few Craven self-references in Deadly Blessing. The poster itself is reminiscent of A Nightmare on Elm Street. It's interesting that this moment in the film is actually with the Sharon Stone character but they still substitute the brunette lead. You would think after Stone let us all see her vagina and became REALLY famous (as mentioned) that someone would have plastered her image there instead. Hmm, something to ponder.

Another "Wes-does-Wes" is in a very brief moment when a shot begins with a white picket fence and then the final(?) girl runs in and the camera follows her as she goes in front of it while escaping the killer...or something like that. Didn't the same shot occur with Neve Campbell in Scream and was even featured in the trailer? I could be imagining this though.

Big scary guy from The Hills Have Eyes. Playing it slightly more retarded but less evil this time around.

I didn't even notice the bathtub scene redux...the most obvious one of all. Maybe that big gross snake had all my attention.

And, yeah, that ending is...what the fuck just happened there?

Hud said...

Your review makes me love it all the more! I might crank it to four stars...

Pearce said...

Mulholland: That's definitely Sharon Stone on the poster, they've just changed her hair.

Too bad I didn't get my post written up in time for Film Club, but at least it's up now!

Kensington said...

I saw this several times in one of the giant old movie houses that used to populate Chicago.

The ending (at least, the final ending) freaked me right out.

I can't tell you how many times I've paused and slow-mo'd that final sequence just to try and get a better look at WTF is happening. Of course, then you're missing out on the horrific soundscape.

And for awhile, I assumed that freaky endings like that were just Wes Craven's bag, but it turns out that the shock endings were almost always forced on him by the producers who employed him.

Unknown said...

This review is spot on! Spot-fuckin-on! And also, it made me laugh. Thank you, Final Girl!

Unknown said...

The last line of the movie is "...and they that wander the Earth shall wonder..." Ain't that the damn truth?!