Thursday, 14 May 2020

More Favourite Horror Flicks, Alphabetically: Let’s Scare Jessica to Death

Let’s Scare Jessica to Death
Dir: John Hancock. Cast: Zohra Lampert, Barton Heyman, Mariclare Costello, Kevin O’Connor, Gretchen Corbett. 1971.

This movie is about being haunted. Thing is, it will also haunt you. If you let it. 

That’s what it did/does to me. I saw it on, I believe, the ABC Movie of the Week, back in the 70’s when I was a kid. I liked this movie. A few years later, I revisited it on VHS, and I liked it even more. Then I picked up the DVD and I began to love it. Now, I have the blu-ray…

Let’s Scare Jessica to Death is built around an astounding performance from Zohra Lampert. She’s Jessica, recently released from a mental hospital, and moving with her husband, played by Barton Heyman (Dr, Klein in The Exorcist), and their friend Woody (O’Connor) to an apple farm in rural New York State. It will be good for Jessica. 

Arriving in the community, the trio stops at a cemetery so that Jessica can take rubbings from tombstones. They also discover that the locals don’t like hippie types moving into their neck of the woods. It’s against this background of barely sustained sanity, graveyard mementos, and outsider status that Emily (Costello) enters the picture and changes the delicate dynamic amongst the three newcomers. 

Let’s Scare Jessica to Death is the kind of movie that can get under your skin, deeply, but only if you’re willing. Its characters, atmosphere and ambiguity are key to its success. If that sounds dull to you, chances are you won’t connect with this flick. For me, this is a movie that has followed me for years. I truly love it. 

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