LETS SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH
The entire film seems to hover on the edge of taking place in a dream. Director John Hancock makes it a film of hauntingly eerie daylight horrors. He starts out by crafting the film with an idyllic lyricism, which is then slowly intruded into by sharp images of horror the girl appearing to drown Zohra Lampert; Mariclare Costellos emergence from the lake like a zombie; and a much better variation on the scene that was later borrowed by Friday the 13th (1980) of a hand appearing from the waters of a lake to grab someone. The framework ending with all the townspeople lined up on the shore is a striking shot that audiences always remember.
Heroine Zohra Lampert has a wonderfully fragile, spaced-out quality. There is another good performance from Mariclare Costello as the mystery girl, who projects an enigmatic and elusive sexuality. The only real complaint is the title, which seems to belong more to one of the films seeking to cash in on the What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) cycle.
Despite such a strong start to his career, John Hancocks later career faded away. He made the highly acclaimed baseball drama Bang the Drum Slowly (1972) and was scheduled to direct Jaws 2 (1978) but was replaced because his lyrical approach was at odds with what the producers wanted. Hancock went onto make Weeds (1987), the childrens Christmas film Prancer (1989) and A Piece of Eden (2000), before returning to the horror genre with the backwoods cannibalism film Suspended Animation (2001).
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