Jenifer (2005, 58 mins)
Some guys love a girl that’s a mess. They are obsessed and must immerse themselves in the narcissistic behaviour and drama of these girlfriends gone wrong. And so I bring you the tale of Jenifer, which I found browsing online one night. The next day I hot-footed down to Suspect Video on Markham St. right here in T.O. to see if they had a copy. Of course they did, as this rental shop is at the top of my list for finding obscure horror, as well as cutting edge docs and foreign film. And I just love the guys that work there.
This short film is part of an anthology series called Masters of Horror. The two seasons consist of short films directed by horror greats such as John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, and John Landis. Jenifer was directed by Dario Argento, a legend of the horror genre. The story was based on a comic of the same name, written by Bruce Jones in the ’70’s, and the screenplay was written by the star, Steven Weber, which surprised me. I remember him when he was on the sitcom Wings. Not really a fan, but he redeems himself in the movie.
Detective Frank Spivey (Steven Weber) becomes hopelessly involved with a mysterious young woman, only know as Jenifer (Carrie Anne Fleming). He rescues her from certain death at the hands of a meat cleaver wielding man who wants this gal dead. She is hot, except for her hideously disfigured face. She is taken to a psychiatric hospital, but Frank can’t forget her. Her memory creates a violent need in him (that he takes out on his ditzy wife Ruby) and removes Jenifer from the hospital (after walking in on her shower time. Because that’s normal) to spend the night at his home so he can find her a more humane place to stay. No one knows where she came from, she can’t talk and is now attached to Frank. Which we quickly learn is o.k. with him. Because despite that ugly grill, she is really, really hot. For him. So much so that she and the family cat have a show down in the middle of the night (she wins the hiss off), and the next morning, she bites Ruby’s face in an enraged attempt to stop her protests to Jenifer staying at their house. Frank leaves with Jenifer and they hook up amidst her demonic growls of ecstasy. He realizes they have nowhere to go and returns home to his wife’s obvious protests. Jenifer eats the family cat, and Frank’s wife takes their son and high tails it out of there.
Now it’s just the two of them. Franky and Jenny. Sitting in a tree. Frank is grossed out by her, but the willy can’t lie and he wants what he wants. A hot monster chick. So he is caught up in a web of repulsion, desire and obsession as he tries to cover up when Jenifer starts eating more than cats. Bigger prey. He is stuck with her and you realize why cleaver man, who used to be a business man with a family, wants Jenifer gone. Because when you hook up with her, she’ll just leave you in a heap of entrail covered trouble. Carrie Anne Fleming does an amazing job as the feral Jenifer, and you never really get a sense of what her origins are. Steven Weber was kind of a cheese meister, although he nailed the glazed I’m thinking with my other head look.
I found myself thinking “She’s crazy!! She’s a demon! Dump her!!”, as I watched this movie. But I started to think of all the times I gave an ex-boyfriend second chances as they left my heart ripped to pieces, so I can kind of get where the character of Frank was coming from. But she did eat his cat. And break up his marriage. And drove him to drink. And forced him to bury bodies in his backyard. Which for the record, never occurred with any of my exes. To each his own…but it does lead me think of the age-old view that women are nothin’ but trouble. Be it his needy wife Ruby, or the salacious Jenifer, the women of this film are extremes, and it’s interesting to see how male urges are blamed on this hyper magnified view of female sexuality. Is a gal who is sexually free a monster, shunned by society and an instigator for bad behaviour? The sexy monster made me do it! Well, this pixie has been called worse…
I enjoyed the extras on this dvd. The interviews with Dario Argento and the cast were really interesting and informative. And I just loved the special effects special feature. I don’t like doing this type of makeup application, but I’ve always found the sculpting and art behind it fascinating. Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero created the makeup for Jenifer off of the original artwork by Bernie Wrightson from the comic. These two geniuses of f/x makeup have a long, long list of work behind them,most recently The Walking Dead, not to mention awards. It’s definitely worth a watch for the makeup and Carrie Anne Fleming.
Most Memorable Line: When Frank’s teenage son skulks in during dinner, Frank announces, ” The Prince of Darkness is home.” Accurate, as most teens are evil, but daddy’s new girlfriend has them beat.
Favorite Scene: O.k., so I love animals and hate films where they get hurt or killed. But when Jenifer is caught feasting on the family cat, it’s kind of funny. She offers the gooey guts up to Frank, as if to say, “Want some? It’s good…tastes like kibble!” Pretty ridiculous, so I can’t be too offended.
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