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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

directed by Wes Craven
USA 1981

 

Martha (Maren Jensen, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA) is a city girl living in the middle of nowhere with her farmer husband Jim Schmidt (Douglas Barr, THE UNSEEN), who was disowned by his Hittite kin (lead by his stern father Isaiah [Ernest Borgnine, MARTY]) for going off to college and equipping his neighboring farm with modern conveniences. Their only friendly neighbor is widow Louisa Stohler (Lois Nettleton, TV's DAYS OF OUR LIVES), whose daughter Faith (Lisa Hartman, WHERE THE BOYS ARE '84) is constantly harassed by slow-minded Hittite William Gluntz (Michael Berryman, THE HILLS HAVE EYES) who he accuses of being the "Incubus." One night, Jim gets up and finds that someone has painted the word INCUBUS on his barn wall, and he is promptly crushed to death by his own tractor. Widowed Martha is determined to stay on the farm despite tensions with Jim's family who view her and her visiting city friends Vicky (Susan Buckner, GREASE) and Lana (Sharon Stone, BASIC INSTINCT) as "serpents" and are adamant that the farm stay with the family. Tensions are heightened when Jim's brother John (Jeff East, PUMPKINHEAD) neglects his prim fiancee Melissa (Colleen Riley, THE HILLS HAVE EYES PART II) in favor of Vicky, Lana is terrorized by a dark figure, a snake turns up in Martha's bath, and William (initially thought to be behind the scares) turns up dead. Is there a killer lurking in the shadows or is the incubus looking for a new bride.

The film was the brainchild of screenwriter Glenn M. Benest and producer Max Keller, whose TV movie SUMMER OF FEAR (based on the young adult horror novel by Lois Duncan) - which also featured East - was previously directed by Wes Craven (although SUMMER OF FEAR only showed theatrically overseas as A STRANGER IN OUR HOUSE, the film's TV title is seen on a theater marquee in this film). Jensen, Buckner, and Stone (in her second role following a small bit in STARDUST MEMORIES) make a memorable main trio, and the supporting cast (particularly Borgnine and Nettleton) is impressive. Cinematographer Robert Jessup (RACE WITH THE DEVIL) gets the most out of the Texas-lensed locations (which could convince for the Midwest) and James Horner's (WOLFEN) score is derivative yet effective. The CARRIE-esque surprise ending was tacked on at the insistence of the producers; and while it goes against the logic of the screenplay (which is more of a psychological thriller than a horror film), it would have been almost expected by this point in horror movies (and certainly by contemporary viewers of eighties horror films). The barely-glimpsed (all the better) incubus was the work of uncredited make-up effects artist John Naulin (RE-ANIMATOR) and really does not hold up to the digital presentation. The dream sequence featuring Sharon Stone and a tarantula is creepy, but less surreal than Craven's next horror hit A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, but DEADLY BLESSING showed that Craven - better known for LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT at the time - was capable of delivering a slick studio film (and it is a superior work to his eighties and nineties studio works, which were - with the exception of THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW - polished but uninteresting).

Eric Cotenas

Theatrical Release: 14 August 1981 (USA)

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Comparison:

 Arrow Video - Region 2 - PAL vs. Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray vs. Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the DVD Review!

1) Arrow Video - Region 2 - PAL LEFT

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Box Cover

 

Distribution

Arrow Video

Region 2 - PAL

Shout! Factory- Region 'A' - Blu-ray Arrow- Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:37:45 (4% PAL speedup) 1:42:13.127 1:42:11.166
Video

1.86:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.5 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 44,493,723,318 bytes

Feature: 30,164,176,896 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.96 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,588,890,923 bytes

Feature: 30,886,382,208 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Bitrate Shout! Factory

Blu-ray

 

Bitrate Arrow

Blu-ray

 

 

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono DTS-HD Master Audio English 3277 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3277 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1995 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1995 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1655 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1655 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Subtitles none English, none English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Arrow Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.86:1

Edition Details:
• Introduction by star Michael Berryman (16:9; 0:30)
• Creative Images: The Horror Hits of Michael Berryman (16:9; 26:29)
• Deadly Desires: Interview with writer Glenn M. Benest (16:9; 13:16)
• Easter Egg: Glenn M. Benest on the poster (16:9; 0:31)
• Easter Egg: Michael Berryman on recent fil projects (16:9; 2:30)
• Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Rue Morgue art director Gary Pulli
• Double-sided fold-out artwork poster
• Collector’s booklet featuring brand new writing on the film by author and critic Kim Newman

DVD Release Date: November 14th, 2011
Amaray

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio:
Shout! Factory

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 44,493,723,318 bytes

Feature: 30,164,176,896 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.96 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Wes Craven commentary

• Say Your Prayers: Interview Michael Berryman (14:13)
• Secrets Revealed: Interview with Susan Buckner (13:05)
• Rise of the Incubus: Interview with Designer John Naulin (6:40)
• So It Was Written: Interview with writers Glenn M. Benest and Matthew Barr (20:33)
• Trailer (2:31)
• TV Spots (1:37)
• Radio Spots (2:35)
• Gallery (:57)

Blu-ray Release Date: January 22nd, 2013
Standard Blu-ray Case with cardboard slipcase

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Arrow Video

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,588,890,923 bytes

Feature: 30,886,382,208 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary with Wes Craven

• Introduction by star Michael Berryman (:33)

• Interview with Wes Craven (12:25)

• Craven Images: The Horror Hits of Michael Berryman (28:46)
• Deadly Desires: Interview with writer Glenn M. Benest (14:24)
• Trailer (2:24)

• Easter Eggs
• Collector’s booklet featuring brand new writing on the film by author and critic Kim Newman

DVD of the Feature with extras

Blu-ray Release Date: March 25th, 2013
Transparent Blu-ray case

Chapters 12

 

Comments

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

ADDITION: Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray (March 2013): I'll ramble... The Arrow has a slight technical superiority (bitrate) and has a brighter image with more grain, but it is also negligibly cropped. In some scenes I prefer the deeper Shout! Factory image with richer contrast - others the Arrow with its cooler skin tones and pleasing textures. There is probably not a big enough difference to sway purchases based on the visuals.

 

Audio, I might lean to the US edition - not only for the 5.1 bump but the stereo sounds a bit more robust as well - a shade more depth while the Arrow linear PCM can bring up the high-end a shade better. Both offer the optional English subtitles.

 

I'll slightly lean to the Arrow for the extras - Craven commentary matching the Shout! Factory and a superior dose of video extras/interviews plus the unexplored Easter eggs, art, liner notes etc. . Unless you are a huge fan of Deadly Blessing it doesn't seem prudent to venture outside your own region locale - the Arrow is a solid Blu-ray package - and we certainly recommend!  

 

***

 

ADDITION: Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray (January 2013): Colors take a huge shift from the SD to Shout! Factory's new dual-layered 1080P transfer. Via the Blu-ray skin tones warm and lose the orange/greenish hue exported by the DVD. You have to think the hi-def colors are more accurate although I can't stay with definitive certainty. The Blu-ray is quite clean and showcases some depth - the performers bright eyes look very pleasing as do the farm/countryside vistas. The 1.78:1 opens up the frame showing a tad more information - mostly at the top of the image. This simply looks like a typical video improvement of the two formats.

 

Audio is lossless with a surround and stereo option. The creepy score and effects are a big part of the presentation and the uncompressed exports this with the horror element as intended. The Blu-ray has optional English subtitles.

 

Like the Arrow DVD - this is stacked with extras including a Wes Craven commentary, some reasonably extensive interviews with Michael Berryman, Susan Buckner, John Naulin and writers Glenn M. Benest and Matthew Barr. There are also a trailer, TV and Radio Spots and a superfluous gallery. Pretty good work!

 

No question that there is some cheese here but it tends to work for the desired effect and plenty of pretty gals decorating each scene. No the best of the genre but better than I anticipated and genuinely enjoyable in the right mood. Recommended - Shout! Factory's attentive production will be appreciated by many.    

***

ON THE DVD: Arrow's progressive, anamorphic transfer opens up with the new Universal logo (the film was distributed by United Artists in the United States, but is now owned by Universal and is the only Wes Craven film they own that they have not released on Region 1 disc). It is likely the same master that was used for the Arrow Films 2007 DVD. The dialogue and James Horner's nice but derivative OMEN-esque score come through nicely on the Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track. The film is introduced by Michael Berryman, who is also the subject of a half-hour overview of his horror CV, and screenwriter Glenn M. Benest discusses the source of the story (a NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC article on the Amish, and he continually refers to the characters in the film as Amish even though they are Hittite) and his thoughts on the ending. Two Easter Eggs are accessible on the main menu screen by highlighting invisible spiders on the right and left sides of the screen. Chapter 3 in the scene menu is misspelled as "Yoyeur."

There also exist an English-friendly German R2 DVD from Koch Media and an Australian R0 release from Umbrella which sports an exclusive director's commentary.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


DVD Menus
 

 

Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Arrow Video - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Arrow Video - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Arrow Video - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Arrow Video - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Arrow Video - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Arrow Video - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Arrow Video - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM


Box Cover

 

Distribution

Arrow Video

Region 2 - PAL

Shout! Factory- Region 'A' - Blu-ray Arrow- Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 




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