Friday, October 28, 2016

Horror Countdown 2016: Deadly Blessing (1981)

Deadly Blessing (1981) dir. Wes Craven, Polygram Pictures/Inter Planetary

By the 1980's Wes Craven's career was slowly changing. The 70's had seen him turn out some groundbreaking independent stuff and a few made for television flicks, but by now he was working for the major studios instead of the grindhouse circuit.

The Schmidts are a pair of newlyweds. Jim (Douglas Barr) and Martha (Maren Jensen) are trying to make a go as farmers, but they aren't having the best of time. Jim used to be a Hittitie, a local religious group firmly stuck in the 1700's, but left when he married Martha. His return was not viewed very well.

Jim asks their neighbors for their help, as Martha is pregnant and will soon need Louisa (Lois Nettleton)'s help as a midwife. Louisa and her daughter Faith (Lisa Hartman) are about the only friendly faces around. William Guntz (Michael Berryman) lives close by too, but he seems to view anyone not born within three feet of him as an outsider, and all outsiders are incubuses.

Things take a turn for the sinister. Jim, hearing noises outside, slips out to the barn and is promptly run over by his tractor.

Martha's best friends Lana (Sharon Stone) and Vicky (Susan Buckner) arrive in time for the funeral. William sneaks back to the barn later that night, but a black robbed figure surprises him and stabs him to death.

The next day, a group of the local religious authorities, lead by Isiah (Ernest Borgnine) pay Martha a visit. They also insult her and make it clear they want her to leave. Martha throws them out, but the next day while Lana is in the barn, a strange force closes all the doors and windows. In her attempt to escape, William's corpse drops down from the ceiling. The sheriff (Kevin Cooney) advises the women to leave town, but Martha will stand her ground. In response, someone slips a snake into her bathtub.

The events start to pile up, each one more sinister than the last. Is there really a incubus? Or is someone playing a dangerous game?

Pretty good, but the ending raises too many questions. Honestly it just ends on an all told sour note which manages to wash away any good will the film builds up.

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