Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Film #7: Let's Scare Jessica To Death (1971)

Please, for your own sake. If you ever get released from a mental institution after six months vacation in Crazyville, don’t move directly into a creepy farmhouse in the middle of a haunted island. It’s not good on the nerves.
Just ask poor Jessica, the title card heroine/foil who learns this lesson the hard way in the 1971 moving picture “Let’s Scare Jessica To Death.” Ohhhh man, and how ever does she get scared.

City girl Jessica is fresh out of Arkham after going what the scientists call “batshitbonkers” (it’s a medical term). Her bald-ass husband Woody and mustachioed best friend Duncan figure it must be the buzz of the city that sent Jessica’s belfry bats flying – after all, they are pretty sick of NYC themselves. So the hippified threesome decide to up and move to a remote island (somehow in the middle of Connecticut?) where they will own and operate a peaceful orchard. What a friggin’ hippie dream fest. It will be, like, so far out man. Little fresh air will be good for Jessie, right? Yeah, not so much.
The group arrives to find the World War I veteran-townspeople don’t take kindly to hippies (damn kids with their standup bass playing, hearse driving, and free love, meeeahhh!). After surviving a near gang-stomp by a group of 87-year-olds, our hippy friends arrive at their orchard, only to find a beautiful fire-crotched squatter chillin’ in their pad. They take a shine to their new flirty friend, even kooky Jessica. Well, that is until she notices that lustful look in her husband’s eye toward the soul-less ginger. Things go even further south when Jessica starts to hear the woman’s voice inside her head.

The fresh air doesn’t help Jessica’s crazies: whispering voices and ghostly apparitions only increase after the group holds a séance in the house. The plot gets thicker than chicken broth when Jessica learns the former occupants of the house met a horrible fate – whole family was slaughtered after their red-headed daughter drown in the adjacent lake. Local legend has it the girl never really drown, but was actually a vampire who continues to feast on the townsfolk (WTF? This is the plot? We're confused...).

Soon, the bodies begin to sprout faster than the apple trees, and Jessica is left to wonder whether the legends are true or if it's all just in her broken head. And just why does that squatter redhead look so much like the drowned girl shown in an old attic-stored picture?
Watch as Jessica finally gets a clue, and then gets freaked-the-fu*k-out, in the 1971 flick “Let’s Scare Jessica To Death.”

The Low-Down:
There are some horror movies that are just so cheesy and poorly written, acted, directed and produced that all you can do is just throw your standards to the stinky wind and sit back to enjoy the filmy mess.
Let’s Scare Jessica To Death is NOT one of these movies… sort of. Unfortunately, it is too good for its own good. Now, that’s not to say this is a masterpiece. Nor is it a so-bad-it's-good poo-fest. This one lies in-between, with both horrible and wonderful moments.
The RDHP had more fun ripping on the movie MST3K-style than actually watching it. But still, there were some captivating moments (similar to how 9/11 was captivating) that had us cringing away from our respective screens.

For example, midway through the movie Woody and Jessica are in bed fighting after old slick-dick made eyes at the "sexy" squatter in front of his mentally-unstable wife. They have this intriguing, surprisingly realistic argument about how Jessica should be sent back to her NYC crazy house and that they should possibly divorce. It was just an awful thing to watch, horrifying actually. It was then we said, "Come on, movie! What the hell? Did we suddenly turn on a melodramatic drama? Is this Revolutionary Road? We shouldn’t be horrified by this type of thing. Where are the dead bodies, the ghosts, the monsters? Now that is horror we enjoy." This scene was just painful, and felt about as good psychologically as running backwards, naked through a cornfield.
It hurt, but in a way, we kind of liked it. It was new, fresh, something never witnessed by us in horror. You gotta like that spunk.

Mix that with the hilarious scenes of the townsfolk. They are anciently old, but are supposed to be a menacing mob hell-bent on kicking some outsider ass. Old people aren’t scary; they shit themselves for mercy-sake. You can’t fear something that shit’s itself, can you! And during these moments, the RDHP felt at home again. "Okay," we said. "Now we are talking, movie. This is a so-bad-it’s-good!"
The duality of this picture left us confused on what to think. This could be a good movie. It could be a bad movie. It could a so-bad-its-good-movie. Hell, we don’t know. Give it a try, and let us know your opinion. Like a deaf corpse, we’re dying to hear from you. (YES, another crappy pun AND a joke that doesn’t make sense!)

RDHP Ratings:
C-rating: 2.5
Chris Dimick screams: “I had fun watching this movie, but it was only partly due to the film. Nick and I had a blast ripping this one up as it glided along the one atom thick ice supporting its plot. See this one with a group of rowdy friends, and you’ll enjoy yourself. Watch it alone, and you will reach the end of confused, depressed and probably a little horny. Then again, this one might just be brilliant. The atmosphere is very creepy, digging deep as it slowly cuts to bone. You see nearly the entire movie from Jessica’s point of view. In fact, the movie really is a story being told by Jessica, as its beginning and end are one in the same. The plot details are not adequately revealed, but really we only find out as much about what is going on as Jessica does. We are taken along on her freak out, left in the scary dark with Jess. Were the horrific events that unfold all just inside Jessica’s demented mind? If that was the point, it was made so dull I could sit on it. And I just did. And it feels amazing.”

N-rating: 2.5
Nick Rich screams: “What to say about Jessica and her 70's-licious world? I've been trying to come up with an answer to this question for over a day now and came up with the following: fallout. To me this movie is about the fallout of many things... the fallout of a new subculture (i.e. hippies vs. WWI)... the fallout of a woman from her traditional role (very 70's, women taking charge, being progressive and slipping into insanity ;P)... the fallout of relationships (see crazy-scary bedroom scene description above)... the fallout of having a mustache (I never knew the dangers until I saw this movie!)... the fallout of ambiguously dead ghost-vampire women (what-what-WHAT!?!?). Like Chris, I was taken aback by this one. Example: I didn't know they were supposed to be on an island until I read Chris's summary above! This movie felt like it was trying too hard to be, like, deep man... really deep... but forgot that depth requires substance. That being said, I did enjoy watching it for the pure early-70's time capsule it was (clothes, hair, people and social climate). I love how the first few years of a decade feel like the last, and you could definitely feel the 60's holding on here. And it did have some beautiful shots (the scenery and colors were breathtaking at times). The Skinny: Watch this film if you like pretty pictures and a) never want to get married (because your woman might turn out to be crazy!) or b) are married and want to face true horror (it makes me tremble just remembering it)!”

A Moment For the Husbands:
Fellas. Hear this, and hear this well. Learn from this movie.
If your wife ever asks if the slutty woman staying in your house is attractive, never, EVER, respond in this manner:
[Scene: Wife and husband Jessica and Woody drive into town after asking the sexy drifter to stay indefinitely at their house]
Jessica: “Do you find her attractive?”
Woody: “Yes.”
[Long awkward silence. Jessica turns away, furious, toward the car window]
DUMBASS! Enjoy sleeping in the cold, buddy.

What Scares the RDHP to Death?
- Daddy's beatings
- Cook County Jail showers
-  Pesticides on our food, but especially sprayed in our face as we are running from vampires!
- Glenn Beck
- Parenthood (children – what little monsters)
- Dying alone
- Earned silence while laying in bed with your spouse
- Hot man breath on our necks
- Grandma’s hairy lipped kisses
- Wives who love to do tombstone engravings just after being released from the nuthouse
- Turtles (they are some creeper-ass amphibians. Think about it.)

P.S. The RDHP doesn't believe the woman pictured above is even the actress from the movie!

1 comment:

  1. I saw the screen during two tame parts (which also happened to be my favorite bits of the movie): a visit to an antique shop (yes!) and a glimpse of the fabulous wallpaper in their country house. I can see why they moved out there. But I just tried watching the trailer and I didn't make it past 30 seconds! sigh.