Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Let's Scare Jessica to Death, Ghosts and Vampires in Connecticut

As Norman Bates reminds us, "..we all go a little mad sometimes."  No one knows this better than the protagonist in today's film from 1971, "Let's Scare Jessica to Death."  Jessica (Zohra Lampert) actually went a lot mad, and landed in a psychiatric asylum.  Like Bruce Willis, she saw dead people. But now she's better....or is she?  The bad news, if she is better, what she is seeing will be more deadly than her insanity.  Creepy to the max, patrons at 1970s Drive-Ins still have nightmares about a few of the scenes in this film.  Filmed, and set in Connecticut, the cast of this film were driven from set to set in a hearse....you gotta like that!
Jessica, Duncan (Barton Heyman) and his buddy, the proverbial fifth wheel, Woody (Kevin O'Connor) are moving out of New York City.  The brilliant idea is that NYC is not conducive for Jessica's recovery, and an old, run-down  farmhouse in the country will be.  A few problems are immediately seen by the viewer.  The family car is a hearse, and Jessica stops at all the cemeteries to trace gravestones.  She should have taken up scrap-booking. Uh oh....even before they arrive at their new home, the voices start.  Creepy ones, beckoning Jessica.  She is the only one who hears them and she dare not mention them, for fear that she will land back in the loony-bin.  She is also the only one to see the mysterious lady in white, who usually appears by the lake by their home. Oh yes...the house they move into..a sordid past.  A hundred years earlier the lady of the house drowned in the neighboring cove and the body was never found.  Town legend:  The lady is a vampire stalking anyone who sets foot near the lake. 
The voices continue, and get more frequent.  As they move into their new home, they find a squatter, Emily (Mariclare Costello). No worries that Emily is a spitting image of the woman who committed suicide 100 years ago.  Jessica's visions continue, and she keeps them to herself.  Only Jessica is suspicious of the townsfolk, as most of them wear bandages on their neck.  Clue perhaps?  As Jessica unravels, Emily makes a move for Duncan and Woody, further isolating Jessica from any safe haven.  Bodies begin to turn up, but when Jessica brings help...the bodies are no longer there.  Whatever is beckoning Jessica is emanating from the cove, which is the source of some of the most chilling scenes you will ever see.  Is Jessica going insane...again?  Are there vampires in Connecticut?  Is Connecticut's inferiority complex to their neighbors in New York a source for insanity?
Absent sudden shock-scares, the imagery captured in this film will keep you awake at night. Everything about this film is unnerving including the musical score.  However prevalent this film was at drive-ins, it is difficult to find now.  Fortunately YouTube has a good quality cut of "Let's Scare Jessica to Death."


  1. This is a great review! I watched this movie as a small child, maybe 4 or 5, and I swear it is the reason I'm afraid of water! I loved it, though. The mixture of vampires and a great ghost story is unbeatable.