Stroke of Midnight

31 Days of Horror: Let’s Scare Jessica to Death

I don’t remember when I first saw Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971) on the CBS Late Movie. Forget Jessica, this movie scared the be-jabbers out of me! Even thirty plus years later it still delivers the goods and is an inspiration to writers and film makers today. I can sense echoes of this film in the works of Stephen King and M. Night Shyamalan with it’s small town setting and languid pacing with a healthy dose of paranoia. The imagery of the movies ending has been copied multiple time most notably at the end of Friday the 13th (1980)

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Jessica (Zohra Lampert), recovering from a nervous breakdown retreats to an old country farm house with her husband and his best friend. The fact that they drive there in an old hearse and she stops along side of the road to do rubbings of headstones in the cemetery is probably not what the doctor prescribed for her R & R.

Shortly after their arrival the trio are confronted by a strange, sexy, girl squatting in their house, strangely unfriendly townies, and all of the old men exhibiting strange marks on their bodies. As more strange events begin to occur Jessica with Jessica and the audience questioning her sanity. Is it vampires? Satanists? Ghosts? Jessica losing her grip on reality, or her husband trying to push her over the edge?

Let’s Scare Jessica to Death is on a lovely, but bare bones DVD from Paramount. I’m thrilled to have this on DVD in a great widescreen transfer, but would have been even happier if the disc had some extras especially a commentary track.

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