Horror movies come in two sizes: Supernatural, incorporating science fiction and fantasy of all sorts, and Not Supernatural, a.k.a. Being Hacked To Death. I have zero interest in the later type. For all their blood and gore, they’re dull as dirt. I like horror for what the horrific suggests as much for what it looks like.
If you, like me, look for horror films that evoke a sense of dark wonder, of cosmic or unworldly eerieness, I really think you should check out LET’S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH.
Jessica, her husband (Duncan) and their pornstache’d hippie pal Woody leave New York for a farm in Connecticut. Their choice of housing is very appropriate for someone just out of a mental hospital:
The trio make a go of the farm, filling the air with pesticides. Jessica is involved in her not-depressing hobby of gravestone rubbings, and there’s even a squatter for Woody to hook up with. But Emily, the redhaired drifter, seems more interested in Duncan and, it seems, in Jessica. Emily physically resembles a woman in a portrait found in the attic.
And then things start to get weird.
Is Jessica having a breakdown? Is Emily a ghost? Or is her interest in Jessica and Duncan more biological in nature? And what about the creepy old people in town?
JESSICA didn’t do much when it was released in the 70’s but it’s gained a bit of a following, enough so it at least got a barebones DVD release. It’s slow, it’s quiet, but it has a cumulative power. A fine score, very good acting–Zhora Lampert gives one of the great performances in a supernatural film–and a unique vibe of burned-out sixties people washed up on the shores of the Nixon era, struggling to grapple with the damage…and failing.