Sunday, October 4, 2020

The Season of Horror Lives Again: Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1971) - Revisited

The Mad Marathon of '70s horror continues! It's been nearly four years since I've seen Let's Scare Jessica to Death, so it was definitely time to revisit this uniquely unsettling movie. Since I have already covered this movie, I just have a few observations and reflections to share. At the beginning of the film, Jessica says, "Nightmares or dreams. Madness or sanity. I don't know which is which," and it perfectly sums up this film. I don't know which is which either, but I was left wondering about some things in trying to get a grip on what's going on in this movie on this second viewing.

We know Jessica had a breakdown, but we don't know the cause. It seems she's been suffering both auditory and visual hallucinations, and she spoke of once seeing her dead father and hearing him call to her. When Woody told Emily that they were all just wandering spirits, it had me thinking about the possibility that Duncan and Woody were already dead, and she was seeing and hearing them as she did her dead father. The fact that they're riding around in a hearse and visiting cemeteries might support that possibility, along with the fact that Duncan 'bought the farm', which might be a tongue in cheek way of also suggesting he was dead. 

We're led to believe that Emily is a vampire, but Jessica hears voices saying "I'm here" and "I'm in your blood" when she's around. Has Emily been created in Jessica's mind from the photograph of her? Perhaps Emily is a representation of the demons that are inside Jessica. 

When the mole is killed, Jessica says they all believe she did it, which seems to indicate she did. Though Emily is reportedly a vampire, everyone seems to be the victim of a slasher, with gashes on their necks. Is it possible that Jessica went mad and went on a knife murdering rampage and was institutionalized for it? She was thinking about being free for the first time in months at the beginning, which might indicate she was being held involuntarily and may have escaped. 

The great thing about this film is that it doesn't provide answers, just clues, which leaves the viewer to wonder, lending itself to repeat viewings. One of the biggest things about the film that continues to mystify me is the title. That is something I will continue to ponder the next time I watch this movie. 

1 comment:

John V said...

This one has been a favorite of mine since I first saw it in my younger days, and I feel it 's a film that retains its eerie power to unsettle the viewer with its slowly mounting sense of unease and terror. Thanks for writing about it, and sharing your views on the movie, Christine. I need to revisit it soon!