Deadly Blessing (UK - BD RB)
Marcus gets called an Incubus by his neighbours while reviewing this Blu-ray.
The 1981 Wes Craven Dead Blessing begins with the tale of happily married Martha (Maren Jensen) and Jim Schmidt (Douglas Barr). They run their farm in Eastern Pennsylvania right alongside a group of Hittites and the divide in how things are done on the farms adds to the growing tension that already exists, largely because the Hittites are Jim’s family that he turned his back on for love.
One night Jim is killed by an unseen attacker in his barn and Martha’s friends Lana Marcus (Sharon Stone, in her first speaking role) and Vicky Anderson (Susan Buckner) arrive on the farm to support her. But when the Hittite family, led by Isaiah Schmidt (Ernest Borgnine) becomes more intense and the odd neighbour, Faith (Lisa Hartman) also begins to act more strangely, Matha’s life on the farm goes from bad to worse.
The opening credits offer up a picture very much like an old grain filled VHS but as soon as the credits stop the image gets a bit better. The look of the film is very much that late 70s/early 80s washed out look. There’s a lot of TV stars as well so your mind immediately draws similarities to 80s TV looks or feature length TV movies of the era even though this is a full big screen project. It really doesn't help that the tone is a little TV feeling too. The image holds on to a gritty textured looks throughout with fairly muted colours in the overcast surrounding but edges are fairly sharp and details in costume are solid. Black levels are deep enough and only occasionally slip into deep blues and only the odd bright red slips into a pinker tone.
Interior scenes hold up better than exterior scenes with only a slight softness to them. Close ups on faces reveal a certain amount of texture but it’s never striking (probably due to the large amount of 80s style make up) and while this is a noticeable HD upgrade, the film never really escapes its origins.
The opening score from James Horner, fills the stereo track well and is more akin to a down to earth family western than a soon to turn nasty horror. Given the limitations the ambience of the film stll makes everything feel alive. Exteriors have plenty of weather, nature and men and work noises filing out the front speakers. Interior scenes has plenty of footsteps on wooden floors and dialogue gets a good crisp ring to it.
It’s not the subtlest of track, with the score telling us how to feel pretty much all of the time but it’s still a track that presents the film’s original audio feel pretty well. Its small and sometimes muddied but this are small setbacks in a largely solid audio presentation.
Michael Barrymen provides a 34 second introduction to the film to get the ball rolling and here he confirmed the remake of the 1981 film being made.
The commentary with Wes Craven is a simple track with the director as he sits with a sidelined co-viewer who raises questions about specific scenes. Craven often expanded on facts within his answers but the track has a casual feel of two guys just chatting about the film as opposed to anything structured. They also seem to get quite distracted by just watching the film sometimes and it can lead to small segments of silence before one of them realises they are there for a reason.
The Wes Craven interview (12:25 HD) has the director speaking about his early legacy in the film industry and the Michael Berryman interview (28:45 HD) has the striking actor talk about his career and some of the bitchiness between the female stars on the set of Deadly Blessing.
Deadly Dersires (14:24 HD) is an interview with Glenn M Benest, the Writer / producer of the film and his insight into the film’s origins and the disc wraps up with the original trailer.
Deadly Blessing does a good job at feeling eerie and despite its horror claims is more of a conventional who-dunnit thriller with a slightly darker tone. The film feels dated, thanks largely it its TV stars of yesteryear and a very young Sharon Stone in attendance and the twist ending will no doubt sway just how much you did or didn't enjoy the film. The disc is simply put, okay. The image is clean but suffers due to the films old school film making techniques and the audio has much the same limitations. The extras are pretty great, with two solid rounds of interviews and a laid back commentary.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 25th March 2013
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: LPCM 2.0 English
Extras: Commentary, Interviews, Trailer, DVD Copy
Easter Egg: No
Director: Wes Craven
Cast: Maren Jensen, Sharon Stone, Susan Buckner, Jeff East
Genre: Drama, Horror and Thriller
Length: 102 minutes
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