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HISTORY

The film opens with a voice-over narration: “The rolling hills of a simple farm community untouched by time. A gruesome secret has been protected for generations.”
       The film ends with a voice-over narration: “The beast that thou sawest was and is not, and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit and go into perdition and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder.”
       End credits include the following written statement: “We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the Texas Film Commission and the courtesy and cooperation of the people of Texas.”
       While an article in the 5 Nov 1980 DV stated that the script was written by Glenn M. Benest and Matthew Barr, with a rewrite by director Wes Craven, the 15 Oct 1979 Var reported that Benest, Barr and Craven were collaborators. Deadly Blessings was scheduled to be the first feature filmed by Inter Planetary Pictures (IPP), with a budget of $2 million and an expected principal photography start date in Apr 1980. IPP reportedly financed the production by pre-selling worldwide pay television and syndication rights to Showtime and Viacom. IPP’s chairman Max A. Keller and his wife, Micheline H. Keller, planned to co-executive produce with Kool Lusby as line producer; however, the Kellers are listed as producers in onscreen credits, and Lusby’s name does not appear. According to HR on 2 Jan 1981 and 13 Aug 1981, the film’s budget increased to between $2.5 million to $3 million, and the 25 Nov 1980 DV reported that the production start date had been pushed to 25 Nov 1980 in TX. ... More Less

The film opens with a voice-over narration: “The rolling hills of a simple farm community untouched by time. A gruesome secret has been protected for generations.”
       The film ends with a voice-over narration: “The beast that thou sawest was and is not, and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit and go into perdition and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder.”
       End credits include the following written statement: “We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the Texas Film Commission and the courtesy and cooperation of the people of Texas.”
       While an article in the 5 Nov 1980 DV stated that the script was written by Glenn M. Benest and Matthew Barr, with a rewrite by director Wes Craven, the 15 Oct 1979 Var reported that Benest, Barr and Craven were collaborators. Deadly Blessings was scheduled to be the first feature filmed by Inter Planetary Pictures (IPP), with a budget of $2 million and an expected principal photography start date in Apr 1980. IPP reportedly financed the production by pre-selling worldwide pay television and syndication rights to Showtime and Viacom. IPP’s chairman Max A. Keller and his wife, Micheline H. Keller, planned to co-executive produce with Kool Lusby as line producer; however, the Kellers are listed as producers in onscreen credits, and Lusby’s name does not appear. According to HR on 2 Jan 1981 and 13 Aug 1981, the film’s budget increased to between $2.5 million to $3 million, and the 25 Nov 1980 DV reported that the production start date had been pushed to 25 Nov 1980 in TX. Production notes in AMPAS library files revealed the film was shot in several TX locations, including Dallas and its surrounding environs.
       The 2 Jan 1981 HR noted challenges faced by the production, including drastically changing weather conditions, and a wagon accident that required hospitalization for actor Ernest Borgnine.
       An item in the 22 Apr 1981 HR reported that John Beal would score Deadly Blessing, however, as noted in the 20 May 1981 HR, he was replaced by James Horner.
       According to the Oct 1981 Box review, Universal had planned to release the film, but treated it like a “hot potato,” changing its release date several times; United Artists Corp. ultimately released the film. As reported in the 6 Aug 1981 HR, the film was scheduled for release 14 Aug 1981, and the 2 Sep 1981 MPHPD noted the film was not screened for the press prior to its release.
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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Oct 1981.
---
Daily Variety
5 Nov 1980.
---
Daily Variety
25 Nov 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jan 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Apr 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 May 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Aug 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Aug 1981.
---
Los Angeles Times
18 Aug 1981
p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
2 Sep 1981.
---
New York Times
15 Aug 1981
p. 11.
Variety
15 Oct 1979.
---
Variety
19 Aug 1981
p. 21.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANIES
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Polygram Pictures Presents
An Inter Planetary Production
A Wes Craven Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Elec best boy
Key grip
Best boy
Cam op
1st asst cam
Still photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp
Mus scoring mixer
Mus ed
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom man
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd eff ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles and opt eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Exec in charge of prod
Scr supv
Casting
Casting
Transportation
Prod accountant
Prod coord
Prod asst
Prod secy
Unit pub
First aid
Prod services provided by
Insurance by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt double
Stunt double
Stunt double
Stunt double
COLOR PERSONNEL
DETAILS
Release Date:
14 August 1981
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 14 August 1981
New York opening: 15 August 1981
Production Date:
began 25 November 1980
Copyright Claimant:
PolyGram Pictures, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
14 September 1981
Copyright Number:
PA113888
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses/Prints
Lenses and Panaflex Cameras Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
101
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26371
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In a rural town, Isaiah Schmidt, the leader of a strict Hittite religious sect, watches as his congregation farms. Next door, Martha brings lunch to Jim Schmidt, who is her husband and Isaiah’s son, before he rides out on his tractor. Isaiah orders a boy to stop staring at Jim’s tractor and remember that Jim is “dead” to them. Faith, a local girl, paints a picture of Martha and her farm from another vantage point, but is interrupted by William Gluntz, a simple-minded Hittite, who calls her an incubus, destroys her painting, and chases Faith into the path of Jim’s tractor. Jim orders William to return home as Faith’s mother, Louisa, arrives. When Louisa thanks Jim for rescuing Faith, he tells her that Martha is pregnant and they will need Louisa’s midwife services in the spring. Louisa congratulates him and hopes it is a girl, noting that boys are trouble. William watches as Jim goes into his barn and finds the word “Incubus” painted on the wall. That night, as Faith paints more pictures of Martha’s farm, Louisa wishes Faith were more feminine and would paint her fingernails instead. Meanwhile, Martha and Jim celebrate their first anniversary and, when they make love, someone slips into the house and watches them. Later that night, Jim wakes, hears his tractor running, and goes to the barn to investigate. He turns off the tractor and searches the barn, but the tractor suddenly starts again and drives into Jim, killing him. Martha, Louisa and the gravedigger are the only mourners at Jim’s funeral until several Hittites appear on a nearby hillside. ... +


In a rural town, Isaiah Schmidt, the leader of a strict Hittite religious sect, watches as his congregation farms. Next door, Martha brings lunch to Jim Schmidt, who is her husband and Isaiah’s son, before he rides out on his tractor. Isaiah orders a boy to stop staring at Jim’s tractor and remember that Jim is “dead” to them. Faith, a local girl, paints a picture of Martha and her farm from another vantage point, but is interrupted by William Gluntz, a simple-minded Hittite, who calls her an incubus, destroys her painting, and chases Faith into the path of Jim’s tractor. Jim orders William to return home as Faith’s mother, Louisa, arrives. When Louisa thanks Jim for rescuing Faith, he tells her that Martha is pregnant and they will need Louisa’s midwife services in the spring. Louisa congratulates him and hopes it is a girl, noting that boys are trouble. William watches as Jim goes into his barn and finds the word “Incubus” painted on the wall. That night, as Faith paints more pictures of Martha’s farm, Louisa wishes Faith were more feminine and would paint her fingernails instead. Meanwhile, Martha and Jim celebrate their first anniversary and, when they make love, someone slips into the house and watches them. Later that night, Jim wakes, hears his tractor running, and goes to the barn to investigate. He turns off the tractor and searches the barn, but the tractor suddenly starts again and drives into Jim, killing him. Martha, Louisa and the gravedigger are the only mourners at Jim’s funeral until several Hittites appear on a nearby hillside. Meanwhile, William and some Hittite boys sneak into Martha’s barn to examine the tractor. When Martha arrives home, the boys escape unseen, but William is forced to hide as Martha searches. She is interrupted by the arrival of Lana and Vicky, her friends from the city, who have come to console her. William sneaks out, but loses a shoe in the process. That night, Martha explains to her friends that Jim was the first Hittite to go to school in the city; when he inherited the farm and brought her back as his wife, the Hittites shunned them, insisting Martha was an “incubus,” a devil that seduces the faithful. Lana and Vicky want Martha to move back to the city, but Martha refuses. Meanwhile, William lies to his father, Matthew Gluntz, about his lost shoe, and is sternly ordered to find it. As William returns to the farm and watches Martha change into her nightgown, someone stabs him to death. The next morning, Matthew and Isaiah question Martha, but she has not seen William. Isaiah wants to buy his son’s farm from her, but Martha shuts the door in refusal. At breakfast, Faith unexpectedly arrives with a basketful of eggs from her chicken coop, and openly checks out the house, including Martha’s bedroom. Later, Vicky jogs for exercise and meets Jim’s brother, John Schmidt, who is smitten with her. Isaiah arrives with John’s cousin, Melissa, ignores Vicky and scolds John for not working. He orders John to date Melissa and shun the rest. Later, Lana helps Martha fix the tractor and goes to the barn to retrieve a part, but the doors and shutters close, trapping Lana inside. The only light comes from the loft, so she climbs the ladder. When the barn door suddenly opens, someone hiding in the loft screams and Lana falls. As she runs for the door, William’s body drops in front of her. Later, the sheriff watches as the Hittites retrieve William’s body. Matthew blames Martha, but the sheriff insists he will find the killer. Isaiah declares that the Incubus killed William and only Hittites can destroy it. The sheriff advises Martha and her friends to leave, but they refuse. That night, as Martha takes a bath, an intruder sneaks into the house and slips a snake into the tub; she jumps out of the water and kills it. The next day, Vicky and Martha go into town where Vicky’s car and gas can are refueled. While Martha conducts business, Vicky enters a store where John and Melissa study bridal gown pictures. John excuses himself and surreptitiously apologizes to Vicky for being rude the previous day. Vicky invites him to see a movie with her, saying no one will know, but Melissa overhears and runs out. John chases Melissa, apologizes for being weak and impulsively kisses her. Melissa pushes John away, ripping her blouse in the process, and runs away. John follows her to Isaiah’s home and tries to explain, but Isaiah whips his son and orders John shunned. Meanwhile, Martha practices shooting at her farm. That night, Vicky goes to town and Louisa visits Martha to inquire about the sheriff’s investigation. Louisa decries men as being hopeless and admits that she would have killed Faith if she was born a boy. Before leaving, Louisa warns Martha to be wary of the Hittites. Elsewhere, Vicky meets John as she leaves the movie theater. She teaches him how to drive her car, then kisses him. Meanwhile, Melissa suddenly wakes up in her bedroom, grabs a knife and rushes outside in her nightgown. As John and Vicky kiss in Vicky’s car, John is stabbed through the convertible’s roof and someone douses the car with Vicky’s gas can. Vicky attempts to drive away, but the car explodes. Back at Martha’s house, Martha encounters a scarecrow wearing flowers from Jim’s grave, then drives to the cemetery to discover Jim’s body is not in the coffin; instead chickens fly out of the casket. Martha races to Faith’s barn, where Jim’s body is strung near strange pictures that Faith painted of Martha. As Melissa arrives in search of the Incubus, Louisa attacks her and when Martha yells at Louisa to stop, she is attacked by Faith. In the ensuing struggle, Martha hits Faith with a rock and Faith’s shirt is ripped open, revealing a masculine chest. Faith claims she does not want to hurt Martha, but vows to kill anyone who comes between them. When Martha runs away, Louisa tells Faith they must kill Martha to maintain their secret. She claims that Martha made fun of Faith, having realized she was a hermaphrodite, but Faith does not believe her. Taunting her daughter, Louisa adds that Martha is pregnant, and therefore Faith can never have her. Meanwhile, Martha returns to the farmhouse to get Lana; when Louisa shoots a rifle into the front door, Martha returns fire. Faith breaks a window but Martha shoots, sending the hermaphrodite flying. Martha drops the gun as Louisa bursts inside. The women struggle, but Lana grabs the gun and kills Louisa. Regaining strength, Faith attacks Martha, but Faith is stabbed to death by a wild-eyed Melissa. Isaiah appears and stops Melissa from attacking Martha. Lana leaves the next day and wants Martha to join her, but Martha chooses to stay. Alone in the living room, Martha is visited by Jim’s ghost, who warns her of the Incubus. As he vanishes, the floorboards open and a monster arises to pull Martha into the fiery depths. The floorboards reassemble and sunlight shines again in the empty room. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.