MARCH 13, 2008
My biggest regret as a human being is that I wasn’t born in 1959 or so. I would have loved to have been a kid in the 70s, getting to experience pretty much all of my favorite horror films when they were first released, instead of 10-20 years later, after many of them had their impact blunted by ripoffs (and now remakes). Such is the case with Let’s Scare Jessica To Death, a film I probably would have loved had I hadn’t seen too many other “A woman is seeing things... or IS SHE?” movies (that were probably inspired by Jessica to boot).
It’s still a good flick though, definitely one to watch late at night with the lights off, instead of during the bright daylight like I did (this is due to the fact that at night I wanted to play Condemned 2, a game so dark I literally can’t see it when there’s the slightest bit of glare in the room). After April Fool’s Day, the title had me expecting that the movie was all just a prank (as in “Hey Guys, Let’s Scare...”), so the fact that it was indeed a legit supernatural horror film (albeit yet another slow burn of one – I REALLY need to watch a nonstop gorefest before this week is through) was a nice surprise, and not without some well-appreciated creepiness. There’s a scene late in the film where the heroine’s husband walks into a general store, and then 4 or 5 of the creepy townsfolk slowly follow him in and close the door – foreboding and creepy as hell!
Unfortunately I really couldn’t stand the lead actress, Zohra Lampert. She was supposed to be a former mental patient (which they never quite explain), so some of her awkwardness could be chalked up to that, but Lampert went above and beyond what is required for such a character, to the point where I wished she would stop speaking. Also, her character (and to be fair, her husband and his buddy) are slow as molasses – they see a century old picture with a woman who is CLEARLY the strange girl they allow to stay with them, and yet it takes almost the entire movie before anyone makes the connection.
However, the aforementioned strange girl (Gretchen Corbett) looks a lot like Ginny from the Harry Potter movies, so there’s something.
The film flies by as well. It’s only 88 minutes long, but it felt even shorter. And since there is very little “action” until the final 5 minutes or so, this is even more impressive. In fact, the film definitely could have used a few more minutes in the narrative to explain some of the under-developed plot threads (in addition to never explaining Lampert’s past mental problems, her husband seems to fall in love with Corbett without ever spending as much as a single scene alone with her).
As for the “Vampire” tag – I’m not sure. Corbett is alluded to being a vampire, and neck-biting seems to be the modus operandi for any of the film’s killings, but the finale, in which Lampert escapes the town, finds all of the pursuing townsfolk acting more like your standard zombies. In fact, the movie very much reminds me of the “sort of zombie” Messiah Of Evil (which came after Jessica), so any fan of that film will probably enjoy this one.
Strangely, the film has a PG-13 rating, despite being released some 13 years before that rating was invented. I am guessing it got a PG back in the day and has been re-rated due to some creepiness (and some all-too-brief lesbian undertones), but since Paramount couldn’t be bothered to include even a trailer for the damn thing on the DVD, answers to such questions won’t be found here (and the film’s Wiki/IMDb pages are no help either, though the Wiki does reveal that the film was originally written as a comedy!). They DID however change the box art, and thus now the movie’s title is in the Trajan font. Add it to the list, Kirby!
What say you?