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Enter the Crypt as John "The Unimonster" Stevenson and his merry band of ghouls rants and raves about the current state of Horror, as well as reviews Movies, Books, DVD's and more, both old and new.

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From the Desk of the Unimonster...

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03 May, 2008



Year of Release—Film: 1971

Year of Release—DVD: 2006

DVD Label: Paramount Home Entertainment


Don’t let the title mislead you… this isn’t another “let’s-drive-my-wife-insane-and-get-her-riches” movie. LET’S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH is actually a literate, well-plotted Horror Film, one that, while slow-moving to the point of slothfulness, has a tremendously good pay-off… if you can stay with it.

Directed by John Hancock, and starring Zorah Lampert as the titular Jessica, the plot involves a woman (Lampert) who’s just been released from a mental institution, relocating to a rural New England village with her husband Duncan and his friend.

The whole relationship seems odd, and grows odder still when the group discovers a young woman, Emily, living in the home they’ve purchased. Both men are soon falling under Emily’s spell, as Jessica begins spiraling back down towards insanity. Though it first appears as though there’s an effort to drive Jessica insane, the real answer isn’t quite so simple.

Though the film is well-designed, the execution is sloppily done, with a confused, and at times confusing, script; poor photography, little better than the average Made-for-TV Movie of the period; and a no-name cast that is not quite able to wring the full potential from the weak script. On the positive side, though, is the hauntingly beautiful Essex, Connecticut location and the suspenseful plot.

Few settings are more appropriate for a Horror Film or novel than New England, and it is perfectly suited here. However, the photography, by Robert M. Baldwin (as Bob Baldwin), simply doesn’t do justice to it. Likewise, the premise of the film is let down by a meandering script that never quite gets its feet firmly planted.


The DVD is an average effort for Paramount, a company that seldom goes the extra mile on anything but it’s new releases. The print used is clean and complete, and presented in the original widescreen, and the movie is subtitled. The disc is what you would expect for a 35-year old film that was hardly a financial success when first released, and overall, is a decent product.


There are no special features on this disc, and it’s difficult to see how much a “Making-of…” or deleted scenes section would’ve added. This isn’t really a movie that cries out for such amenities, even if they had been available.


While this was a surprisingly enjoyable film at the end, it does require some patience to get there. The cast does the best they can with the script they were given, but you can’t help thinking that a more talented ensemble might have been able to overcome its inherent difficulties. But that shouldn’t stop you from checking this one out. While it’s not one that I would recommend for purchase, (unless you find it in a bargain bin) it certainly is worth a rental. Be patient with it, and you will be rewarded.

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