HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
American Assassin
Die, Mommie, Die!
All the Money in the World
Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, The
Black Panther
Children's Hour, The
Mayhem
Sphere
Guyver, The
Night School
Loveless
Ragtime
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
Murders in the Rue Morgue
Wound, The
Scalawag
Let's Get Harry
Girl with Green Eyes
Sunchaser, The
Tom Jones
Downsizing
Defiant Ones, The
Centerfold Girls, The
Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, The
120 BPM (Beats Per Minute)
Police Academy 3: Back in Training
Safe Place, A
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
Cargo
Entertainer, The
   
 
Newest Articles
A Yen for the 1990s: Iron Monkey and Satan Returns
Hey, Punk: Jubilee and Rock 'n' Roll High School
Help! with The Knack: Richard Lester in 1965
Roll Up, Get Yer Free Cinema: The Shorts on the BFI Woodfall Blu-rays
Time for Heroes: The Dam Busters and How I Won the War
Hell is a City: Midnight Cowboy and Taxi Driver
Boris Goes Bonkers, Bela Goes Bats: The Old Dark House and Mark of the Vampire
Charles Bronson's Mid-70s: Breakheart Pass and Others
Kids in America: The Breakfast Club vs Metropolitan
80s Dance-Off: Staying Alive vs Murder-Rock vs Breakin'
The Cinematic Darkside of Donald Crowhurst
Dutch Courage: The Flodder Series
Coming of Age: Boys on Film 18 - Heroes on DVD
Country and Irish - The secret history of Irish pop culture
Wash All This Scum Off the Streets: Vigilante Movies
   
 
  Let's Scare Jessica to Death Just Because You're Paranoid...Buy this film here.
Year: 1971
Director: John Hancock
Stars: Zohra Lampert, Barton Heyman, Kevin O'Connor, Gretchen Corbett, Alan Manson, Mariclare Costello
Genre: Horror, Weirdo
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Journeying in their hearse, Jessica (Zohra Lampert), her husband and their friend head off for a new life in the country, but Jessica, who has a history of mental illness, starts to believe the area is haunted when stopping briefly at a graveyard she catches siight of a young woman - but was she there at all? Their new neighbours don't seem particularly friendly in this small community and although she is delighted with the house they are to settle in, Jessica grows suspicious of the young woman who has joined them there... yet is she simply allowing her psychosis to return?

Co-written by the director John Hancock with Lee Kalcheim, this is an eerie, low budget paranoia-fest with an irresistable title. After looking to carch the viewer off guard with Emily's entrance (the young woman - Mariclare Costello), prospects for entertainment don't look too promising when she produces a guitar and commences a singsong. But don't be fooled as soon a standard "is she going mad or not?" plotline has escalated into a weird, unsettling nightmare for which there is little explanation, especially as the menacing folk of the nearby town seem to be involved with whatever might be going on.

The simple reason for Jessica's suspicion over Emily could be the fact that her husband gets along with her so well, and jealousy the cause, but once the newcomer suggests a late night seance alarm bells should be ringing. Although they don't seem to get through to anyone (or anything), unless you count the whispered voices that we assume to be part of Jessica's thoughts, this occurence acts as a kind of trigger for whatever happens. From then on, even something as innocent as a swim in the nearby lake can take on a terrifying sense of dread for our heroine.

What makes this situation especially cruel is that Jessica is doing her best to be "normal" in a world that is twisting out of shape, so the more she tries to be friendly and accomodating - she remains a sympathetic character through her sheer vulnerability - the more this is thrown back in her face, and she can't for the life of her work out why. It might be something to do with the previous tenants of the house, who disappeared in strange circumstances, and as is noted, if you look closely at an old photograph the daughter of those tenants bears a resemblance to Emily.

In tone, the whole thing comes across as sort of a horror cross between Easy Rider and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, with the ageing hippy-ish leads looking for a countryside idyll and finding a hostile community and a malevolent, supernatural force, unless it really is all in Jessica's mind. The atmosphere of trespassing in a domain that ambiguously either wants you gone or wants to possess your soul for its own ends is one that is hard to shake here. While the other actors go throught the motions adequately, the compelling Lampert gives a delicate perfromance, which makes the panicky climax all the more haunting, notably as it is left open as to what precisely was going on. Listen out for the carefully put together soundtrack, too, which includes music by Orville Stoeber.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 9496 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

John Hancock  (1939 - )

Born in Kansas City, Hancock worked as a theatre director throughout the 60s before receiving an Oscar nomination in 1970 for his short film Sticky My Fingers... Fleet My Feet. His feature debut, Let's Scare Jessica To Death, was an effective slice of horror, while subsequent films, such as Bang the Drum Slowly (featuring a young Robert De Niro) and Weeds were sensitively made dramas.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Enoch Sneed
Graeme Clark
Paul Smith
  Jamie Nichols
Andrew Pragasam
George White
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
   

 

Last Updated: