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"Let's Scare Jessica to Death" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 15

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"Let's Scare Jessica to Death" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 15

Old 09-23-13, 01:39 AM
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"Let's Scare Jessica to Death" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 15





Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1971)



Selected by rbrown498



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ON YOUTUBE
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These "October Horror Movie Challenge" threads are for the discussion of the films in the 31 FILM SUBSET list.

The plan is for everyone to watch this film on the October day in the thread title, and to start discussing it the morning of the following day.
You may start discussion early if you want, but the preferred plan is for this to be as much of a group exercise as possible, with all of us viewing it "together" and discussing after.

Of course, you are totally encouraged to participate in these threads even if you haven't watched the movie on the designated day.
Even if you haven't watched it in years, or are not participating in the Horror Challenge, please feel free to chime in.



Spoiler tags are unnecessary in here, so if you have yet to see the film BEWARE OF SPOILERS.
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Last edited by Chad; 09-27-13 at 05:37 PM.
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Old 10-15-13, 10:50 PM
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Re: "Let's Scare Jessica to Death" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 15

I like the ambiguous set-up and slow pacing with a ton of originality and atmosphere but sometimes it seems to fall just short or get dragged down in being too vague. Some of the psychiatric illness subplot feels over exaggerated at times. Being able to hear the character's thoughts (or hallucinations) is a nice touch.

Knowing that Let's Scare Jessica to Death is based on Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla is interesting (same source as Vampire Lovers, Daughters of Darkness, Blood Splattered Bride, etc, etc) because the movie seem much more subtle.
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Old 10-16-13, 12:13 AM
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Re: "Let's Scare Jessica to Death" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 15

I had seen this movie in a previous challenge and had been meaning to revisit it and I'm glad I did. The pacing is slow but that;s to be expected from a 70's film so it;s nice to see a film take its time building atmosphere before the scares. The vampire/ghost theme is handled subtly and with originality and even if it is a bit too vague at times it's still a pretty good film. The "harvest/farming" theme is tangential in this movie but a good choice of film nonetheless.
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Old 10-16-13, 12:20 AM
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Re: "Let's Scare Jessica to Death" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 15

The movie opens with a Last House on the Left or I Spit on Your Grave innocent type opening common in the early '70s. It has a slow, steady burn that begins to make the viewer doubt, like Jessica, what is real and what isn't. I couldn't help but compare some of that atmosphere when the main characters were dealing with the town's people to Salem's Lot. You are left, again like Jessica, wondering if it was all a dream, imagined, or real. The score helps blur reality and fantasy as well by keeping the viewer off balance.
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Old 10-16-13, 01:10 PM
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Re: "Let's Scare Jessica to Death" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 15

I love the free spirited hippie vibe of the characters... they find a girl just aimlessly living in a house and invite her to just hang out with them.
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Old 10-16-13, 07:30 PM
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Re: "Let's Scare Jessica to Death" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 15

Well, this one was my pick, and I can see by the response that it wasn't an incredibly popular one. Still, I think that it's a very interesting film, and I wanted more people to see it. To me, the movie feels really, really autumnal, and when they go swimming in the film all I can think is how cold the water must be. I'm guessing that the movie is set more in late summer, since the apples seem to be just beginning to ripen.

There's a guy out there who has set up a webpage dedicated to the film. Here's a link to it. He's got a ton of neat stuff about the movie on his site, including some interesting interviews. My favorite thing that he's got there is this advertising image that I found endlessly fascinating as an 8-year-old.

It's not a perfect film. Zohra Lampert's performance as Jessica is such an accurate portrayal that the character is difficult to like. Most actresses would have tried to make Jessica as loveable as possible so that the audience would be entirely on her side, but Lampert doesn't do this...which is a brave choice that ends up probably diluting some of the scares a bit. Still, the scene where
Spoiler:
Abigail rises from the water
sends gooseflesh running rampant up and down my arms. It's a powerful moment.
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Old 10-17-13, 12:50 AM
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Re: "Let's Scare Jessica to Death" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 15

I revisited this for the challenge. It had been so long since I saw the movie I only remember the tombstone hobby. For some reason, I thought this had a "Gaslight" kind of plot (which the title suggests). It's most likely this movie didn't make an impression on me when I was a kid since it was too slow for my tastes back then. Now I can appreciate it as a good creepy little movie.

So, is there any "correct" interpretation about what was going on? Or is the point that the audience is meant to leave the movie with both possibilities (Jessica relapsing or vampires/ghosts) open? I like to think it's the second - that would make it a better movie for me. "The Innocents" had a similar approach, leaving the audience unsure even at the end about what was really going on.
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Old 10-17-13, 08:44 AM
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Re: "Let's Scare Jessica to Death" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 15

Originally Posted by brainee View Post
...leaving the audience unsure even at the end about what was really going on.
I liked that aspect, but otherwise it was a little slow for my tastes. I did think the squatter was well cast, because for whatever she had me uneasy right from the off for no really obvious (initial) reason..!

Originally Posted by rbrown498 View Post
There's a guy out there who has set up a webpage dedicated to the film. Here's a link to it. He's got a ton of neat stuff about the movie on his site, including some interesting interviews. My favorite thing that he's got there is this advertising image that I found endlessly fascinating as an 8-year-old.
I shall browse that website next, thank you.

Originally Posted by rbrown498 View Post
Zohra Lampert's performance as Jessica is such an accurate portrayal that the character is difficult to like. Most actresses would have tried to make Jessica as loveable as possible so that the audience would be entirely on her side, but Lampert doesn't do this...which is a brave choice that ends up probably diluting some of the scares a bit.
Fair point. I'm trying to make a concerted effort to remember my thoughts this year, and then - presuming I can recall them next year (...) - I intend to revisit some of this year's films with these "in retrospect" thoughts and comments, and see if I even agree with myself after taking in consideration all these retrospective comments.

Last edited by ntnon; 10-17-13 at 09:04 AM.
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Old 10-17-13, 10:18 AM
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Re: "Let's Scare Jessica to Death" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 15

I liked it! Like some of the other movies on youtube, I wish I was able to watch a version with higher video quality. Apparently there's an HD version on iTunes that looks pretty good, that would have probably been more enjoyable and immersive. I am so spoiled from DVDs and BluRays.

This was a 70s movie through and through, from the slow pacing to the fashion, and the care free nature of inviting a stranger to live with you. I liked the ambiguity of the film, personally I think there were supernatural things going on, some type of vampire or succubus situation with the red haired girl, and that left Jessica's fragile mind in shambles. With the ambiguous nature of this movie I'm reluctant to categorize it as a vampire movie in the expanded checklist.

I loved the 70s soundtrack, very cool. I agree that the slow, silent shot of the girl coming out of the water was pretty chilling. Who did Jessica stab at the end of the movie? Was that her husband?

Apparently Stephen King cited this as one of his favorite horror movies, and I can see it being an influence on Salem's Lot.
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Old 10-18-13, 06:22 AM
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Re: "Let's Scare Jessica to Death" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 15

^DaveyJoe, yes that was her husband.

I saw this movie a few years ago and didn't care for it but for whatever reason, I enjoyed it more this time around. Yeah, it runs a little slow but the creepy sound effects and wondering what is going to happen kept me around.

I love the title of this movie but I don't think it fits with the movie at all...unless it there to fool you and make you think her husband and friend are trying to push her over the deep end. If that is the case, so be it. I do think this is one of those movies that could get a decent remake.

I believe the actress playing Jessica did a great performance as a loony because I wanted to kill her by the end. Her half grin at everything, her childish statements constantly, the stupid looks she gives....ugh, please kill her. It was driving me nuts wondering where I had seen her before and then I found out she was in Splendor In The Grass (pregnant and married to Bud at the end).

So while I didn't think this was a great movie, I really enjoyed it more this time. Maybe I was in more of a mood for it?

My rating: *** out of ****
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Old 10-18-13, 08:37 AM
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Re: "Let's Scare Jessica to Death" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 15

I'm pretty sure I watched this before and don't remember what I thought then, but I really enjoyed this viewing. Nice to have a couple films with some ambiguity in the subset.
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Old 10-20-13, 05:34 PM
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Re: "Let's Scare Jessica to Death" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 15

One of the movies that my stupid mother let me watch on the TV when I was about 5. It scared the sh*t out of me then, and I think it holds up perfectly. On a par with The Haunting for sheer slow-burn terror. A great choice for the challenge!
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