Saturday, December 13, 2008

Let's Scare Jessica to Death [film - 1971]

This is an excellent movie I've managed to catch a couple of times on late-night or Sunday-afternoon TV. I'm generally not a movie fan and don't collect many of them; but this film is a stand-out and it is Gothic. I'm going to order a copy. It's been a while since I've seen LSJtD, so I'll defer to this man's fine review from IMDb [The Internet Movie Database]:

Dreams or nightmares, madness or's amazing. Author: Vince-5 from northeastern PA:

Unjustly neglected, Let's Scare Jessica to Death ranks with The Haunting (1963) as a classic of understated horror. Everything about it is brilliantly eerie--from the tombstone etchings to the hostile townsfolk to the whispering voices in Jessica's head. From beginning to end, there is a distinct impression that beneath this picturesque rural setting something is very wrong...and this sense builds slowly and lyrically, leading up to a breathtaking shock-twist climax. And still, as in The Haunting, we're left with the question, "Was it real?"

Benefiting from a well-utilized low budget and beautiful color photography, this is one of the most subtly scary motion pictures you'll ever find. The characters are well-rounded and brought to life by a team of talented character actors. Zohra Lampert positively glows as the sweet, delicate Jessica; she is superbly expressive and keeps you firmly at her side all the way. Her performance should be studied as a casebook example of how to play a fragile, sympathetic character. And this rich, highly imaginative Gothic chiller is essential viewing for fans of intelligent terror.+++

This film includes Jessica's tombstone-rubbing "hobby," which was the first time I'd seen or known of it. If you get the chance and haven't already, rent and watch it.

Image obtained from


Karswell said...

Very very excellent movie. I don't know it's unjustly neglected though as I remember it playing on late night television constantly as a kid / teen throughout the late 70s and well into the 80s, and everyone in school was always talking about it. But you're probably right, it's likely a bit neglected these days... but only by a younger generation that probably doesn't watch movies made before 1985 anyway. Their loss.

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