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Let's Scare Jessica To Death (Day 18)

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Gary Floyd


18.) Let's Scare Jessica To Death (1971)

Plot: Jessica (Zohra Lampert) is let out of a mental ward, and moves into a country home with friends. So, what's with the strange drifer girl (Gretchen Corbett)? Or the vampire in the lake? Or the townspeople with those odd scars?

Review: The term "lost classic" gets thrown around a lot, especially in the horror genre. Hardcore fans such as yours truly love to mention movies like Vampyr, Horrors Of Malformed Men, The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, and others as examples of why we should continue to dig for great but overlooked horror movies. One movie that gets thrown around by such fans is John Hancock's 1971 classic "Let's Scare Jessica To Death."

The movie itself is not a gorefest-bloodshed is quite limited within the movie-but what it lacks in disembowelments it makes up for in creeping dread and atmosphere. Throughout most of the movie, we are unsure what is real or what is a dream, as Jessica's paranoia reaches a fever pitch level, and the atmosphere clouds over the viewer, up to the conclusion. The dead in the movie are not rotting corpses bent on destruction, but are instead undead townspeople who you can't trust, bringing to mind the classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Also, just like Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, Messiah Of Evil, and I Drink Your Blood, "Jessica" serves and a condemnation of hippie culture-and may be the biggest middle finger-the biggest proverbial fuck you-to the culture, as it reveals many of the things that destroyed it, and it wasn't authority figures either: bickering, in fighting, egos, the looming sense of comformity, acid drenched delusions, paranoia, and more figure into the movie. The overriding message of the film seems to be that even without authority and police figures, the hippie movement was doomed to fail from the get go-only it would end up destroying itself instead of the other way around.

"Let's Scare Jessica To Death" is a great horror movie, and deserves it's cult reputation.

Rating: 9/10 One of the best horror movies from the 70's you haven't seen or heard of. Recommended.

Next Time: Erotic Nights of the Living Dead
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