31 Spooky Movies in October: 2012 Edition, Part 11

by kdlough

29.  Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (John D. Hancock, 1971)

This one’s creepy, maybe the most genuinely scary movie I’ve watched this month.  A young woman named Jessica is released from the hospital after suffering from schizophrenia, and she, her husband, and a friend move out to the country to take over an old orchard.  They find a young woman squatting at the farmhouse, and she bears an odd resemblance to an old photo in the attic.  And Jessica seems to be seeing things again… or is she?

 

This is a great little horror movie, filled with slowly escalating details that seem banal but grow more and more unsettling.  There’s a lot of horror movies in which you can’t tell reality from fantasy, but here the effect is done particularly well.  The filmmakers make it explicit from the beginning that Jessica sometimes sees and hears things that aren’t real, so a big part of the scares comes from other people seeing things we had previously assumed were Jessica’s hallucinations.

Jessica shows its low budget every now and then with some crappy dialogue editing, but for the most part the sound is effective with a great score that jerks from hippie-drippy Morricone-lite to synthesizer squeals.  The visuals are pretty standard-issue early 70s woodsy grime, but it’s the mood that’s important here, and it’s got it in spades.

I’m really glad I watched this toward the end of the month.  This and The House of the Devil are real bright spots and a good way to wind things down.  Highly recommended; watch it on a quiet evening.

SCORE: 10 sinister (?) scars out of 10

30.  The Case of the Bloody Iris/What Are Those Strange Drops of Blood Doing on Jennifer’s Body? (Giuliano Carnimeo, 1972)

Okay, I have to admit: I’m getting sick of watching these fucking movies.  This one was a real chore to sit through, even though it’s probably one of the better non-Bava/Argento giallos that I’ve seen.

 

Maybe Bloody Iris is so effective because it so shamelessly borrows from the Bava/Argento playbook.  We have the classic trench-coat and black mask giallo killer, fashion models, disfigured loonies being hidden by family members, sex cults, and more suspects than you can wave a knife at.  We even get some good ol’ Italian homophobia by way of a fashion photographer who looks like a mincing Woody Allen.

This one also has some above average cinematography.  The sequence in the apartment building’s basement at the end looks incredible, and we even get some wide-angle lens shots that move a bit closer to the actors than the customary 50 feet away.  There’s just a lot of really handsome looking sequences throughout the film.

I’m really at a loss here for a score, since it really is a good genre entry even though I didn’t enjoy it at all.  I’ll edge toward being a little more objective…

SCORE: 7 inexplicable minutes of female wrestling out of 10

 

Well, it’s the last day of October and there’s only one movie left!  Unfortunately, it won’t be posted until tomorrow.  You can argue that would break the rules, but no, shut up.  The local Warren Theater is screening Friday the 13th tonight, so patience: a write-up will be coming shortly, as well as a wrap-up and score-card.  THIS IS IT, FOLKS!

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