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Let's Scare Jessica to Death

Let's not.

Rod Lott September 10th, 2013

After hearing about Let's Scare Jessica to Death for years, I'm thankful I finally got to see it, newly rescued from out-of-print oblivion by Warner Archive. I only wish the 1971 shocker had proven worthy of its hype.


Fresh from a mental hospital, Jessica (Zohra Lampert, The Exorcist III) is taken by her husband, Duncan (Barton Heyman, The Super Cops) to a farmhouse with a cove nearby for a fresh start. If only Duncan had known that it's reportedly haunted, which can't be good for Jessica's fragile psyche. Almost immediately upon their arrival — in a hearse, no less! — the voices in her head start right back up.

Having the heroine experience visions that may not be real — that is, seen and acknowledged by other characters — is a good road for a psychological horror film to travel. It's just that the view is so relentlessly dull. Let's Scare Jessica to Death is the feature debut for director John D. Hancock (Bang the Drum Slowly); his inexperience shows in the pacing, the amateurish performances and even the choice of an ill-fitting musical score (hippie folk).

For something with intentions of fright right there in the title, the movie never gets anywhere near raising a pulse, despite having a considerable cult whose members may feel otherwise. Less can be more, but in this case, it's just less. —Rod Lott

Hey! Read This:
• The Super Cops DVD review

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