The “Watery” Dead Are Here!
This time of #shelteringathome has given some of us a chance to catch up on great TV shows, or discover cult films that have been released recently on home video.
This “Cult Movie Monday” has a scary meditation of psychological horror – and a new blu-ray has fascinating inside stories about this 1971 shocker!
Let’s Scare Jessica To Death!
How can you not love a horror movie with this tagline:
“Something is after Jessica. Something very cold, very wet…and very dead.”
Let’s get started – first, check out this trailer:
Here’s an obscure movie worth finding! A recently institutionalized woman has bizarre experiences after moving into a supposedly haunted country farmhouse and fears she may be losing her sanity once again.
“Let’s Scare Jessica To Death” stands as one of the most subtle, yet truly scary films ever. It just gets under your skin, despite a sensational title that suggests one of those “let’s do something to get her inheritance” contrived plots – there is much more to it!
The film is a masterful example of “believable, real-life” horror that has a haunting lyricism that sucks you into Jessica’s surreal nightmares.
Zohra Lampert’s performance is superb and one of the most realistic portrayals of mental instability we have in the genre. So, when you see dead girls roaming a cemetery, you have to ask yourself: is this really happening or is all of it in Jessica’s mind?
Which leads to the shocking question: IS THIS REALLY a dead woman coming out of the water to grab Jessica?
The Overlook Film Encyclopedia called the film a “poetic and persuasive film” that “borrows from both the gothic and post-Night of the Living Dead traditions to depict the death of the love generation as a group of dropouts who find rural America less than accommodating.”
Now, Shout Factory has a great newly remastered blu-ray that gives you a “deep dive” into the making of the film.
There’s a new audio commentary with director John Hancock and producer Bill Badalato, remembering many details of making the film almost 50 years later. They talk much about the locations, the cast, the storyline, the shooting techniques, as well as share various anecdotes about the props (such as the little mole seen in the film). Hancock mentions JESSICA was inspired by THE HAUNTING and TURN OF THE SCREW (as well as the style of Alfred Hitchcock, and there’s even a bit inspired by Polanski’s REPULSION), and also admits he wanted to do away with the ghost-like character because he didn’t think she added much to the proceedings.
“Art Saved My Life” (16:25) is an interview with composer Orville Stoeber, who recalls his long interest in music and singing, and eventually meeting director Hancock in New York. He details how he synth-scored the film and describes how the director worked closely with him during the process. “Scare Tactics: Reflections On A Seventies Horror Classic” (23:44) is an interview with author/film historian Kim Newman, who labels LET’S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH as his favorite horror film, first seeing it in the theater in 1973 as a teenager, and exemplary of the type of films he was writing about in his Nightmare Movies book. He praises the performances, details the edgy narrative, and he recounts how very different and “scary” it was compared to the Hammer and AIP genre fare that was coming out during the same period. “She Walks These Hills – The Film’s Locations Then And Now” (6:49) is a look at the actual Connecticut locations now as compared to how they appeared in the original film (this includes the “Bishop House” which is currently in terrible condition). The extras are rounded out by the original theatrical trailer, a TV spot, a radio spot and an image gallery. (George R. Reis)
The terrific DVDDrive-In” website had this writeup on the special features – see more here:
This would be a great double bill with another psychological shocker:
Yes, “Rosemary’s Baby” also tells the story of a young woman going mad – or is she? And yes, it’s the film that broke Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow’s marriage up!
Click here to find out why:
And if you like your horror a bit more “domesticated”, how about these perfect wives?
“The Stepford Wives” is a GREAT sci-fi film by the Author of “Rosemary’s Baby” – see the trailer here:
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Leave me a comment on my “Cult Movie Monday” and let me know your favorite psychological horror!