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LETíS SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH (1971)
Published by Film Fanaddict on 2006/10/8 (2428 reads)
Directed by John Hancock
Review by Mark Jason Murray
Released by Paramount
Running Time: 88 minutes
Color format: Color
Audio/Subtitles: Original Mono
Region Code: 1, NTSC
Aspect Ratio: Widescreen
16:9 Enhanced: No
Special Features: None
Trailer Online: No
Recuperating from her stay in an institution for a nervous breakdown, Jessica (Zohra Lampert) ventures to a secluded Connecticut home with her husband, Duncan (Barton Heyman) and their friend, Woody (Kevin OíConnor). Immediately, Jessica begins to experience strange occurrences and hear voices. Afraid her husband will believe she is losing her mental capacities once again, Jessica holds everything inside. They meet Emily (Mariclare Costello), later agreeing to allow her to stay with them at the house. Strange clues appear to Jessica when she discovers the story of a young girl, Abigail Bishop (looking very similar to Emily), who drown in the nearby cove on her wedding day and her body never found.
LETíS SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH is a subtle and ambiguous exercise in early 70ís horror, one that is more effective upon reflection. While the film is hampered a bit by its relatively poor acting and slow pace, the viewer is left uncertain (just as Jessica may be) as to exactly what has taken place. Is it mainly a part of Jessicaís possibly skewed reality or are we to believe that all is as shown? The film opens and closes with Jessica reflecting on the bizarre incidents that have just taken place. ďI sit here and I canít believe that it happened and yet I have to believe it. Like mirrors or dreams, madness or sanity. I donít know which is which.Ē The filmís title could be perceived as a clue that the group surrounding Jessica were enacting a plan to drive her to another mental breakdown, yet the film doesnít deliver any clues if that is in fact the case. The viewer is left to perceive and experience the plot from Jessicaís viewpoint, making it a much more effective film overall than if one was to be privy to details outside of Jessicaís reality. Those looking for outright scares and a fast paced plot will most likely be disappointed, yet viewers looking to experience an enjoyable early 70ís obscurity which requires a bit of afterthought may be pleasantly surprised.
Rarely seen and issued previously on VHS, Paramount has finally issued LETíS SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH on DVD after years of requests from fans. Although not remastered, the film looks decent while the exceptionally effective soundtrack would have tremendously enhanced oneís viewing experience had the disc included a surround sound track, yet only the original mono is the only audio track included. Although presented widescreen, the DVD is absolutely barren of any features, not even a trailer is included. The DVD artwork is incredibly similar to that used for Sonyís release of EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE (2005) as an obvious marketing ploy to build interest.
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