Wednesday, October 5, 2011

OCTOBER 2011 HORROR SKETCH 5 - Let's Scare Jessica to Death

Misleading title and absolutely terrible poster nonwithstanding, 1971's Let's Scare Jessica to Death (directed by John D. Hancock) is one of the creepiest movies I've ever seen. Seriously. It's up there with Kubrick's The Shining, though not as powerful and bombastic. Jessica is a more subtle, eerie film.

Jessica (actress Zohra Lampert in one of the best female performances in a film OF ALL TIME) just got out of a mental institution and her hippie husband and friend move into a house in the middle of nowheresville to "get away from it all" and get a "fresh start". Jessica's mind narrates, and her performance is astonishing as she clearly is taking cues from the other characters as to how to act "normal" instead of "crazy" for fear her "crazy" is showing. I've never seen a performance so pitch perfect, I think, maybe in my life.

The townspeople of nowheresville don't take a liking to hippies, but, hey - it's 1971 and the Manson thing kind of killed a lot of the Love Generation thing by that point, and this movie takes that idea and goes full tilt boogie on how the hippie thing did not, in fact, work out for anyone at all.

Jessica starts to believe that a woman squatter, living in the house when they arrive, may actually be a ghostly vampire. Is Jessica crazy? Is the woman a vampire? A ghost? And why does everyone seem so attracted to her?

And what's with the creepy little girl in white running around the garden (pictured above)?

I've never seen a movie that has such a fantastically creepy tone. So if creepy is what you're looking for, creepy is what you'll get. I can't stress enough how creepy this movie is. And Lampert's performance is so good that I ended up totally feeling really, really sorry for her. She's SOOOOO good in this movie! She carries the thing off terrifically. Anyone who's wondered at one point or another as to whether they're insane or not will understand this performance and this movie.

But sometimes, just because you're paranoid, like Jessica, doesn't mean everyone isn't out to get you...

Watch this movie, folks. Sit in a dark room, quiet your life down, and sit through it. Feel the creepy. And pray for poor Jessica's mind.

In honor of my favorite holiday Halloween, every day this October here on BRAIN POOP I'm going to provide a sketch and a little info from an obscure (and maybe not-so-obscure) horror movie that I love! EVERY SINGLE DAY of October! Stay tuned!

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Richard Harland Smith said...

I'm chiming in a bit late on this but I absolutely agree and I've had the pleasure of writing about Jessica on a number of occasions, attempting to spread the word on how great it is. I first saw the film in 1971 or 1972, at which time it was put out in tandem with Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby - what a double bill! I love your sensitive, respectful, but stylized and individual take on one of my favorite fear films.

Unknown said...

This is on Fearnet right now, I found your print via an internets search. Watching it now for the first time.. its so odd and creepy.