Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971)

Starring: Zohra Lampert, Barton Heyman, Kevin O’Connor, Gretchen Corbett, Alan Manson and Mariclare Costello

Directed by John Hancock

Format: DVD

Tagline: “Nightmares or Sanity…Which is Which?”

“Something is after Jessica. Something very cold, very wet…and very dead…”

“Finally released from an institution after suffering a nervous breakdown, Jessica (Zohra Lampert) seeks the tranquility of a secluded home in Connecticut to help make her recovery complete. But instead of a restful recuperation with her husband Duncan (Barton Heywood) and a close friend (Kevin O’Connor) in the New England countryside, Jessica soon finds herself falling into a swirling vortex of madness and the supernatural. And an even more unsettling discovery is that the entire region seems to be under the influence of a mysterious woman the trio finds living in the supposedly empty house. Jessica’s fear and dread only intensify when she discovers that the ‘undead’ girl, Emily, tragically drowned long ago, on her wedding day. Is she back to take vengeance…and scare Jessica to death?”

My Story:

It’s been just over a year since I purchased this film. The reasons why I bought it remain somewhat unclear. My sister’s name is Jessica, I live in Connecticut, and it’s supposedly an underrated horror film. So, I bought it. And now I’m watching it. That plotline sounds all over the place though, huh?

My Thoughts:

  • I have a bad feeling this is going to prevent me from falling asleep tonight…
  • Connecticut, what a state.
  • Creepy voiceover exposition via Jessica…
  • Why was she tracing gravestones? what? Who does that? Though the other question would be, why are they traveling in a hearse?
  • Why do people keep appearing and disappearinggggg???!?!?!
  • I hate when there’s a lot of sound, then just quiet. It’s always eerie, no matter what.
  • She already has voices in her head, and we’re nine minutes in.
  • Wow, wow, this is frightening. I had straight-on shots as much as I hate the dead silence.
  • I hope the back cover didn’t spoil this Emily character for us…
  • They’re all sitting around a dinner table. I hope this turns into The Big Chill.
  • Oh yeah Emily, you’re just gonna hold a seance out of nowhere?
  • Woody is tryna get the moves on Emily.
  • Emily is a ghastly seductress.
  • JESSICA DON’T GO IN THE WATER ALONE GODDAMMIT.
  • Simple music is the scariest. Always.
  • I don’t understand how they’re just raiding this house and selling the loot in town.
  • Remind me not to read the back cover before the film…I have a feeling it got spoiled 😦
  • Supposedly this town is filled with old guys.
  • How did he not see that body while fishing?
  • JESSICA DON’T FOLLOW THE DIRTY LOOKING GIRL IN A DRESS NOT FROM YOUR ERA.
  • When anybody screams or yells in films from the 70s, it’s much more frightening.
  • It is so uncomfortable watching people breakdown. And not a stereotypical sob, but like a breakdown that seems like it’s unique to them and only them. Lampert’s freakout in bed was so well done.
  • WHO KILLED THE MOLE?!?!
  • That cheating son of a bitch…
  • Everyone is turning against Jessica now….oh boy.
  • JESSICA, Y U ALWAYS ALONE IN SCARY PLACES?
  • Emily, GTFO alright? I’m tired of your stupid weird shit.
  • Loud whispers are also scary.
  • Don’t go back in the house, are you stupid? Ughhhh this is so uncomfortableeeee.
  • The thing about me turning down the volume in fright, is that I can’t hear the whispers. Dilemma.
  • WOODY, WHY THE HELL WERE YOU ON YOUR TRACTOR WHEN THIS WAS ALL HAPPENING.
  • Woody, never trust a woman just wearing a wedding dress out of the blue.
  • Ghost town.
  • Jessica, passing out in the woods is not a great idea. And you can’t trust your husband after he just finds you.
  • Oh and Jessica, there’s no winning.

The Verdict:

I liked this. There’s something about horror films from the late 60s and early 70s that make them so much scarier than horror now. I think it’s a mixture of the subject matter, as well as the execution of some of the suspenseful or scary parts of the film. There aren’t jump scares, there isn’t (usually) a ton of blood. It’s much simpler. And simple is scary. That’s what I appreciated most about this, as well as Lampert’s performance. But the story wasn’t GREAT. It was good and seemed original, but it wasn’t superb. This is a keeper though, without a doubt.

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