|Zohra Lampert as Jessica|
|Barton Heyman as Duncan|
|Mariclare Costello as Emily|
|Kevin O'Connor as Woody|
|Gretchen Corbett as The Girl in White|Relatable Horror
Let's Scare Jessica to Death plays on everyday fears: shadowy hallways, whispered voices, and unexplained noises. In this instance, the dreaded "Something's grabbed my leg!!" terror of every outdoor swimmer.
|Flirting with Death|
They drive around in a hearse, her husband's cello case looks like a coffin, and
Jessica's hobby is visiting graveyards to make tombstone rubbings
One theory posits that the film is a hallucinatory delusion born of Jessica's
friendly/fearful attraction to the sensual Emily
Another theory sees the film through the prism of Jessica's response to her father's death and
repressed feelings of hostility/resentment toward her disloyal and infantilizing husband.
|The Madwoman in the Attic|
Let's Scare Jessica to Death share with other atmospheric Gothics like The Innocents, Rosemary's Baby, and The Haunting, a heroine who's questionable sanity brands her an unreliable narrator. Ironically, by fade-out, most of these films end on a note of "I Believe the Woman."
|Eve Was Weak|
Jessica is about to pick an apple from their recently sprayed orchard
before Duncan warns her that it's poison
Given that masculinity is a social construct only slightly less sturdy than the membrane lining an eggshell, it would seem a natural vulnerability topic for the horror genre; but Gothic tradition has long deemed the psychotic woman to be the defining trope of helplessness. In the horror genre, the e psychotic man is portrayed not as a victim, but as the agent of violence or figure of fear.
|Screams, whispers, and odd noises punctuate the sound design of Let's Scare Jessica to Death.|
Another major asset is composer Orville Stoeber's bloodcurdling score.
Standing in contrast to Gothic traditionalism and the theme of "the disbelieved woman," is the gender-based disruption introduced by the character of Emily. In horror films, a female vampire is depicted in ways not dissimilar to that of the femme fatale in film noir. Her power lies in her awareness of men's vulnerability to her sexual allure. She has both agency and control over her fate because men are such easy prey.
|In 1980 Mariclare Costello appeared as Mary Tyler Moore's |
sister-in-law Audrey in the film Ordinary People