The Brown Shoe Diaries Halloween Movie Club. Track down today’s movie and post your comments. Good? Lame? Scary? Not scary? Bring it.
Today’s recommended feature is:
Let’s Scare Jessica To Death (1971, d. John D. Hancock)
When I was a a hyperactive kid in the early 1980’s one of the local tv channels ran a packaged, late-night movie show every Friday called “Shock Theater.” I can’t imagine what my mother was thinking in allowing me to stay up for it, especially because I was already such a fraidy-cat spaz. I’ve gone back to some of the movies from that show that I recall really freaking me out. Some don’t hold up to adult discernment, Let’s Scare Jessica does.
Jessica has just been released from a 6 month stay in a New York City mental hospital. Her devoted husband, Duncan, cashed in their savings to buy a bucolic farm house and abandon orchard in the hope of building a more tranquil life for Jessica. Upon arriving at the house, they find Emily, a squatter who says she’s been living in the old house “for a long time.” Being groovy people, the couple invite Emily to stay on with them. Not being what she appears to be, Emily begins to discretely terrorize the already nervous Jessica and seduce Duncan. When Jessica starts to wig-out, and grows unable to separate reality from illusion, Duncan goes to a nearby town to find help. But the townspeople are hiding a dark secret about Emily and the old farm house. When Duncan doesn’t return, Jessica must fight for her sanity and her life. Who is Emily? Is Emily really even there or is Jessica going mad again?
Let’s Scare Jessica is from a period of independent filmmaking in the 60’s and 70’s, between the campy creature features and horror cinema’s exasperating decline into vulgar, repetitive slasher sequels. In that era, filmmakers combined novel stories of demonic possessions and the occult with stark, European inspired neo-realism. Let’s scare Jessica is brilliantly stark, moody, non-professionally cast, and actually scary.
BTW, listen for awesome sound effects work in the movie. Sometimes what you hear is freakier than what you can see.
P.S. I can’t find any information about “Shock Theater.” I always that it was put together by the local station in my home town but am told that it may have been a syndicated service. It was on in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Let me know if you remember it and what your favorites were.