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Let's Scare Jessica to Death (What Killed Sam Dorker?)

Let's Scare Jessica to Death (What Killed Sam Dorker?) (1971)


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Release Date: Aug 6, 1971 Limited



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Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 2,290

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Movie Info

This eerie low-budget chiller has recently released mental patient Jessica (Zohra Lampert) moving to a Connecticut farm with her husband and some friends. But a strange girl named Emily is at the farm, too, and it soon becomes obvious that she is somehow related to a young woman who drowned on her wedding day in the 1800s. Is Emily a vampiric ghost? Are the hostile townsfolk all zombies? Or is Jessica losing her mind once again? ~ Robert Firsching, Rovi

Aug 29, 2006

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All Critics (8) | Top Critics (1) | Fresh (2) | Rotten (4) | DVD (8)

A promising exercise in weirdness that will have you hanging until the end.

September 16, 2013 Full Review Source: Movie Chambers
Movie Chambers

Great title, lousy film.

November 9, 2011 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Hancock nails the pure dementia of the situation with scenic settings that feel utterly claustrophobic at all times...

April 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

A very mild, very dull mystery with supernatural undertones that's mostly a long, slow buildup for an unsatisfying conclusion of little sense.

May 31, 2007

Superb title aside, Let's Scare Jessica to Death generally isn't able to live up to its reputation as a hidden gem within the horror genre.

October 6, 2006 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

Let's Scare Jessica to Death spends 90 minutes tapping lightly but incessantly on its heroine's fragile sanity, as though it were some sort of Fabergé S&M model egg.

August 27, 2006 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine | Comment (1)
Slant Magazine

Audience Reviews for Let's Scare Jessica to Death (What Killed Sam Dorker?)

Made just two years after the Charles Manson murders, "Let's Scare Jessica To Death" has a weird hippy vibe to it, eerie with it's elements of communalism and counter-culture ostracization. Jessica is a timid sort of house wife, moving with her husband and a friend to a house out in the country. In town, they meet a group of locals who don't want them around. Arriving at the farm house, they're greeted by a squatter named Emily. In true hippy fashion, they invite Emily to stay with them. But Jessica, who was recently released from a mental institution, starts to have odd hallucinations. But are they hallucinations?

For such an obviously low budget, Let's Scare Jessica To Death manages create some fairly jarring, frightening images. The film is more disturbing than horrific, it makes us question who the crazy people are: Jessica (and us, as we observe through her eyes) or the people messing with Jessica, if they indeed are. It's a disturbing film, in the tradition of something like "Carnival of Souls". There are no clear answers and the whole thing doesn't make a lot of sense, which is probably the best way to go about creating this atmosphere of tension. In this manner, it succeeds.
April 9, 2013
Mr Awesome
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

Let's Scare Jessica to Death is one of the forerunners of the 'films that need a decent release' crowd. The film is notoriously difficult to track down and just about every cult horror fan in existence that hasn't seen it wants to. I'm pleased to say that I finally got myself a copy...but unfortunately, it seems I'd set my expectations too high and Let's Scare Jessica to Death has turned out to be a little disappointing for me. But that's not to say I disliked it! The atmosphere in this film is superb, and massively helps the story along with it's themes of insanity in a sinister rural setting. The film follows a woman named Jessica who has recently been released from a mental hospital. Along with her husband and a friend of theirs, they move into a rickety old farmhouse, and meet a hippie chick squatter who has taken it upon herself to stay in the formally abandoned farmhouse. However, all is not well for Jessica as she's hearing voices again, and as if this isn't bad enough on it's own - there may be more to the young girl that the trio have decided to let stay with them.

The film appears to have been marketed more towards the 'zombie fan' end of the horror market judging by the front cover, but actually Let's Scare Jessica to Death is a psychological horror film. The way that Jessica hears voices in her head helps to create tension, and this in turn is helped by Zohra Lampert in the title role. Her acting isn't brilliant, but she has an aura of naivety about her, which helps when it comes to the vulnerable, insane side of her character. The plot is always slow moving and relaxed, and this allows the film to aptly put across the plight of the main character. There isn't much gore in the film at all, which is likely to disappoint fans of the more visceral side of horror. It's clear that Let's Scare Jessica to Death is somewhat overly ambitious with its plotting, as I often got the idea that the film is trying to be more intelligent that the screenplay allows. But even so, Let's Scare Jessica to Death is a creepy gem and one that will certainly appeal to fans of the less gore focused horror movies.
July 14, 2009

Super Reviewer

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