Digi-Schlock: DEADLY BLESSING (Scream Factory Blu-Ray)

For a long time, Deadly Blessing was the missing piece of the Wes Craven home video library for American horror fans.  It was well-represented during the VHS era but slipped into obscurity afterwards, never earning a proper DVD release in the States.  Multi-region-capable fans got a reprieve a few years back with an Australian disc but all the other U.S. fans had to wait until Scream Factory unleashed its new blu-ray and DVD editions of this title.  Thankfully for those fans, their long wait has been rewarded with a full-on special edition that is impressive in both technical and bonus-feature terms.

Scream Factory has racked up another strong transfer with this disc.  One of Deadly Blessing‘s best assets is the excellent, picturesque cinematography by Robert Jessup – and the image reflects the slightly glossy look of the film while adding the proper amounts of clarity and detail.  The color palette of the landscapes is appropriately earthy and the overall “vintage” visual style is reflected nicely.  The film features a 5.1 lossless stereo soundtrack and it works well, adding some dimension to the soundtrack by spreading out effects in a careful style amongst the speakers and adding some heft to James Horner’s choral-tinged musical score.

Scream Factory has also assembled a tidy set of extras here for the fans.  Leading the pack is a commentary track featuring  director Wes Craven and moderator Sean Clark of HorrorHound.  Craven is typically soft-spoken but informative here, discussing the challenges of being a ‘director for hire’ in his own polite way.  He doesn’t really dish dirt per se but he has plenty of fun stories and intriguing information about the particulars of the production.  For example, there are a great story about how Jon Peters and Peter Guber approached Craven on location and drove him off into a field to tell him about their discovery, starlet Sharon Stone.  He also relates a hair-raising tale about a mishap involving Borgnine and a horse carriage and reveals how the staging for the snake-in-the-tub scene came to him in a dream.  Clark politely interject questions to keep the talk rolling and the result is a pleasant, informative listen for Craven fans.

Red Shirt Pictures has also produced a quartet of interview featurettes for this edition. The first two highlight members of the cast. “Say Your Prayers!” is a chat with Michael Berryman, who discusses his character in an interesting way that reveals how actors interpret their work.  He also makes an interesting point about how his character reveals an important plot info early on, right under the audience’s nose.  Susan Buckner is interviewed in “Secrets Revealed.”  She’s a likeable and energetic presence as she waxes nostalgic about her work and cast members.  However, she also laces her thoughts with funny moments, like the revelation that a “stunt boob” was used during her big make-out scene.  It’s interesting to note that Berryman isn’t afraid to dish a little dirt on his cast members while Buckner paints a rosier picture.

The other two interview featurettes go behind the camera.  “Rise Of The Incubus” is a brief chat with John Naulin, the effects man who supervised the makeup design for the film’s reshot coda.  The chat is really more about his early career – he got the gig to work on this film as part of his work as the head of Special Projects at the Don Post mask company – but he discusses his work in a humble, likeable way.  He also throws out a few interesting tidbits about The Elephant Man and Halloween III.  “So It Was Written” is the lengthiest of the featurettes at 20 minutes and focuses on screenwriters Glenn Benest and Matthew Barr.  They reveal a lot about the origins of the project, including how their work with Craven on the t.v. movie Summer Of Fear directly led to this film and what it was like to hang out with Ernest Borgnine.  Both come off as being modest and classy.

The package is rounded out with a variety of ad materials.  There is a theatrical trailer that does a surprisingly good job of selling the film’s complicated premise and series of three t.v. spots that take a different tack, each focusing on a particular shock scene in the film to convey its spooky appeal.  There is also a series of five radio spots, the best being one that uses a pared-down version of Lana’s monologue about her bad dream to nerve-jangling effect.  Finally, a brief image gallery offers a quick series of stills and promo art: fans should note that includes both a sketch and a full-photo of a key special effect shown briefly during the film’s coda.

In short, Scream Factory continues its winning special-edition streak with this disc of Deadly Blessing.  Craven fans can rest assured that it offers a good-looking and informative way to plug that long-empty slot in their collections.

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