Stephen King quotes Let’s Scare Jessica to Death as one of his favourite horror films, and he doesn’t just put his name down on anything (that’s a lie as the man would put a quote on a bag of dirty laundry if they paid him enough), but this time around King is right. Released in 1971, directed by John Hancock, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death is an eerie, atmospheric tale about a woman, named Jessica, who is having a hard time distinguishing between reality and insanity.
After spending some time in a hospital, Jessica is whisked away by her husband and friend to a remote house in the countryside. When arriving at the house, they meet a girl who has been squatting at the house for some time. Instead of kicking her to the curb, they invite her in to stay. It’s fairly obvious from the get-go that something ain’t right with the girl, and Jessica can sense that. Jessica also senses that something ain’t right about everything in this area. The townsfolk are a bunch of old bullies with mysterious marks on their necks, the lake seems to house a ghost, and even worse there is a tale about a possible vampire. Personally, not the best getaway location for a mentally unstable person.
As the film moves through its 89-minute runtime, events keep getting crazier and crazier for Jessica, culminating in an ending that leaves us wondering whether or not it all happened.
There is a lot of great stuff in Let’s Scare Jessica to Death that elevates it above other horror movies of its time. First off, Orville Stoeber needs to be highly praised on his score for the movie. Featuring an eerie soundtrack laced with synth, the music never stops being fantastic. Also, the cinematography by Robert M. Baldwin is to die for. The flick is filled with fog-drenched scenes that scream gothic horror. Also, one scene involving a lady rising out of the lake will send goosebumps. Finally, the biggest praise needs to be given to actress Zohra Lampert, who puts in a flawless performance as Jessica.
When watching Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, I am reminded of another movie titled Images, which came out a year later, which also featured a distressed woman in a crazy situation that may or may not be entirely in her head. If you’re a fan of Jessica, be sure to check out Images (full review here).
Scream Factory releases Let’s Scare Jessica to Death on Blu-ray using an HD source provided by Paramount Pictures. I assume it’s the same source that has been available on streaming services, which means it’s a bit rough around the edges. A new transfer would be nice, but the one we get isn’t terrible. There is a bit of dirt and debris present through the picture, but nothing that is overly distracting for the average viewer. Some people report some aliasing when viewing the images in our Gallery, but I don’t personally see it. Audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono, and there were times I noticed a bit of hiss in the background, but the dialogue was loud and clear for a majority of the runtime, and that amazing soundtrack comes through nicely.
Gallery: Let's Scare Jessica to Death (Scream Factory Blu-ray) Screenshots
Here are Let's Scare Jessica to Death screenshots from Scream Factory's Blu-ray.
Unlike the recent release of Body Parts, I wouldn’t say Let’s Scare Jessica to Death is overflowing with extra features, but there are some choice nuggets that Scream Factory has provided fans of the film. In combination to a new audio commentary with director John Hancock and producer Bill Badalato, we have an interview with composer Orville Stoeber that runs roughly 16 minutes. He discusses not just the film, but his life growing up. Film Historian Kim Newman speaks for roughly 23-minutes about his love for the film and its various influences. The last new feature is a roughly 6-minute Then and Now look at the various filming locations. Rounding everything out is the usual assortment of trailers, radio spots and a still gallery.
NEW Audio Commentary With Director John Hancock And Producer Bill Badalato
NEWArt Saved My Life – An Interview With Composer Orville Stoeber (HD; 16:25)
NEWScare Tactics: Reflections On A Seventies Horror Classic – An Interview With Author/Film Historian Kim Newman (HD; 23:44)
NEWShe Walks These Hills – The Film’s Locations Then And Now (HD; 6:49)
Theatrical Trailer (unrestored HD; 2:58)
TV Spot (unrestored HD; 0:55)
Radio Spot (1:03)
Still Gallery (no chapter breaks; 4:39)
Let's Scare Jessica to Death delivers an eerie story that is catapulted above many other films thanks to a fantastic soundtrack, gothic cinematography, and a wonderful performance from Zohra Lampert. Be sure to pick this one up on Blu-ray from Scream Factory, which houses some informative special features and an all-around solid video and audio experience.
Reader Rating1 Vote
Older HD transfer
Some may consider the story to be slow, but some would be wrong.