July 30, 2016

Saturday night film screening: Chicago independent filmmaker, author and film studies instructor Michael Glover Smith presents LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH. 8:30 p.m. Free, BYOB.

"I sit here and I can't believe that it happened. And yet I have to believe it. Nightmares or dreams? Madness or sanity? I don't know which is which." So goes the voice-over narration that begins LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH, John Hancock's spectacularly creepy cult-classic horror film from 1971. The fascinatingly ambiguous plot concerns the subjective experiences of a woman from New York City (Zohra Lampert) who moves to a rural Connecticut farmhouse after being released from a mental hospital. Accompanied by her husband and his best friend, Jessica attempts to start life anew in a bucolic environment, but peace of mind is hard to come by when she suspects that one of the townspeople, the beautiful Emily, may be a vampire. Eschewing gore for psychological subtlety and eerie atmosphere, Hancock keeps the viewer's knowledge of what is real and what is not tantalizingly in flux -- one of the reasons the film has drawn a legion of admirers over the decades. This special 45th anniversary screening of LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH will be introduced by Michael Glover Smith, who will also moderate a post-screening discussion. 

Michael Glover Smith is co-author of the book ‘Flickering Empire: How Chicago Invented the U.S. Film Industry’ and director of the indie feature 'Cool Apocalypse.’ His blog is White City Cinema, and his Transistor Radio series is The White City Cinema Radio Hour.