Plot: Jim (Douglas Barr) was once a part of the Hittite community, but he left the flock to start his own life, resulting in him being shunned. He still runs a small farm that once part of his family’s estate, though his father Isaiah (Ernest Borgnine) is convinced it should belong to the Hittites. Jim and his wife Martha (Maren Jensen) do their best to live in peace, but some of the Hittites continue to harass them, especially the “touched” William (Michael Berryman). William taunts the couple, yelling about an incubus and soon after Jim has a confrontation with William, Jim turns up dead in the barn, crushed by his own tractor. In the wake of this tragic event, Martha’s friends come to visit and hope to take her out of the Hittite surrounded area, but she is determined to make things work. But soon strange things begin to happen, from missing people to horrific dreams to seemingly supernatural events, putting Martha and her friends on edge. Is this all the work Isaiah in an attempt to drive Martha off the land, or is there some kind of a darker force in play?
Entertainment Value: I do so love the Amish (I know, Hittites) and I also love horror movies, so I am always pleased to see those two world combine. Especially when we have Ernest Borgnine as a sadistic, creepy elder who looms large over the entire movie, right? The movie starts off a little slow as we’re introduced to the various players and learn about the backstories, but this is pretty important stuff, so the pace is more than justified. Once the stage is set, Deadly Blessing picks up and slowly turns in a dark, atmospheric experience. Wes Craven directed this one and you can tell, with so much emphasis on dreams and of course, the bathtub scene that he would revisit, with a new twist. I love that the movie includes so many creepy elements, with spiders, snakes, religious cults, and just flat out eerie people, not to mention enough red herrings to fill a small lake. The mood is tense and only broken when Sharon Stone and Maren Jensen make ridiculous as they chew up scenes. The performances are a little hokey overall, but it is a blast to watch Borgnine as the ominous Isaiah. A little dusty perhaps, but still a fun to watch, well crafted chiller, I think. If you’re a fan of Craven, Borgnine, horror in general, or the Amish, this is well worth a spin.
A few nude scenes in this, including a memorable scene with a naked woman battling a snake in the bathtub. So you’ll witness breasts, bare ass, and ever so quick flashes of full frontal, in a couple scenes. A quick ass flash happens pre-bath as well, so let us not forget that snippet. This one has a few kills, but doesn’t focus on the visible violence, as it relies more on mood and atmosphere. So just a hint of the red stuff around in a couple scenes, never graphic in the least. I don’t even really think there’s enough to notch a point, but you won’t miss the gore, trust me. You get spiders, a snake, and Borgine abusing people, however. The dialogue is melodramatic in most scenes, which I think is great, but others might dislike, as a lot of the cast overacts and makes things a little campy at times. The facial expressions from Stone and Jensen are just outlandish, while Borgnine devours entire scenes. So not good by traditional standards, but just the kind of stuff we love here. As far as craziness, we have the over the top performances, goofy end sequence, and never ending cycle of red herrings, so not a super wild movie, but the performances alone earn some points.
Overall Insanity: 4/10