Jenifer (2005) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This was episode four of season one of the "Masters of Horror" cable series.

A police officer comes upon a man about to decapitate a young woman. He tells the man to stand down, but he refuses, and the policeman has to shoot him. Just before dying, the fatally wounded man offers a cryptic warning to the officer, whispering "Jenifer." When the detective tries to comfort the hot-bodied young woman, he finally sees her face, and it is the deformed face of a hideous beast, or an alien.

Despite his initial revulsion, the policeman can't get the woman out of his mind. He even fantasizes about her during sex with his wife that night, causing him to sodomize her brutally. The next day, filled with pity for Jenifer and strangely attracted to her, the  policeman checks her out of her insane asylum and brings her home. Jenifer turns out to be a true beast and eats the family cat. When the police officer will not return Jenifer to her asylum, his wife and their son move out. Despite Jenifer's grotesque face, the cop has sex with her repeatedly. That is repulsive on its own, to him as well as the viewer, but the matter becomes truly horrifying when he finds that Jenifer has killed and eaten the adorable little girl next door. Instead of turning his monster over to the authorities, he drags her out into the wilderness and begins a new life with her in a remote cabin, where her behavior becomes ever more feral until he finally realizes that he must do something about it.

The actor Steven Weber ("Wings") wrote the screenplay, from a story in a Creepy comic. I'm going to spoil the ending without actually telling it to you, by saying that if you've ever read any old horror comics, you will know precisely how the story must end after the first five minutes, in which Jenifer's previous caretaker tries to kill her with a meat cleaver, then tries to warn the police officer (played by Weber himself).

When Weber got the story accepted for the Masters of Horror series, he had no idea that it would eventually be directed by the legendary Dario Argento and scored by Goblin, the group which scored many of Argento's greatest films. Argento locked in on the erotic aspect of the story, and amplified it to the point where the film is actually gorotica rather than straight horror, in that all of the shock comes either from the sex scenes or the explicit flesh-eating. In fact, Argento originally shot two explicit oral sex scenes, complete with penis-in-mouth close-ups. In the first, Jennifer uses her gigantic, deformed mouth to pleasure the policeman. In the second, a teen boy thinks Jenifer is going to give him a blow-job, but it turns out that her concept of eating dick is much more literal than he had hoped. The special effects guy explains in the special features that Dario Argento also had envisioned a genital close-up of Jenifer and asked for a scary alien vagina for this scene. The bizarre pussy was dutifully created, but Dario scrapped the idea before the scene could be filmed.

The DVD is loaded with extras - three hours worth of featurettes and documentaries to illuminate a 57-minute TV show! The film itself includes a full-length commentary by actor/screenwriter Steven Weber, and then there are two hours' worth of featurettes, the best of which is an interview with Dario himself, in which he explains how the film's pre-production was done via email, and offers his commentary over the two deleted scenes. The original version of the teenager scene actually shows Jenifer gnarling chunks out of the lad's penis. There is also a screen-to-script featurette and the usual interviews with the main actors, as well as with the the make-up and special effects people.

This is obviously not for people who are repulsed by the idea of watching Jenifer devour human and animal entrails (or penises!), nor for people who can't accept the idea of Weber having sex with a creature with a hot body and a deformed face, but this DVD is a must-own for people interested in horror comics, gorotica, or Argento. I'm not particularly interested in any of those, but I found the special features to be fascinating and the film to be watchable. The screenplay is not expertly crafted, but one rarely gets to see gorotica directed by a big name director. Of course, my tolerance may be explained by the fact that I've had sex with some women even uglier than Jenifer, but then who hasn't, after a few ill-timed pints?

 

DVD INFO

  • Commentary by Writer/Actor Steven Weber and DVD Producer Perry Martin
  • "So Hideous My Love An interview with Dario Argento" featurette
  • "Working With A Master: Dario Argento" featurette
  • "Behind The Scenes: The Making of Jenifer" featurette
  • "Howard Berger And The Make-Up of Jenifer" featurette
  • On Set: An Interview with Steven Weber
  • On Set: An Interview with Carrie Anne Fleming
  • Script To Screen: Jenifer
  • Complete Screenplay (DVD-ROM)

NUDITY REPORT

Brenda James - breasts in a sex scene.

Carrie Fleming - breasts in two sex scenes. Breasts and buns in a shower scene.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online (it was a one hour TV show)

 

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

 

Based on this description, this film is a very high C+ on our scale. Required viewing for gorotica buffs and Argento fans, especially the special features.

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