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Monday, July 30, 2012

Day 212: Masters of Horror: Jenifer

Masters of Horror: Jenifer
But she has so much inner beauty

I am still a novice when it comes to Dario Argento movies. I have reviewed two of his works, (Inferno and Masters of Horror: Pelts) but they only scratch the surface of Argento's unique vision. It was difficult to get through Inferno, mostly due to a lack of a cohesive plot and the fact that it dragged for hours. It was visually stunning and the music was great, but I had no clue what was going on. I enjoyed Pelts because it was a focused horror story that confined Argento to a certain format fit for television. It still had plenty of blood and gore, but Argento couldn't go off on an LSD-style color trip for an extra hour. Perhaps his other Masters of Horror installment would be just as good.

Masters of Horror: Jenifer is a 2005 horror movie from the Showtime television series starring Steven Weber (Farm House, Wings) as police officer Frank Spivey. While parked in his squad car, Frank sees a man carrying a meat cleaver forcing a woman (Carrie Fleming) to the ground. The man raises the cleaved and Frank draws his gun and fire. The woman has a beautiful figure but a horribly disfigured face and giant black eyes. That night, Frank is consoled by his wife Ruby and during sex, he fantasizes about the girl he saved and becomes too rough with her. The next day, Frank speaks with a police officer who interrogated the girl and learns that her name is most likely Jenifer, due to a note found on her with that name written on it, and that she is mute and probably mentally handicapped. He meets her in the mental hospital and takes her home with him. Frank dreams of a non-disfigured Jenifer and awakens to find her standing in his room, terrifying his wife and teenage son. Frank takes Jenifer out to find a place for her to stay, but ends up having sex with her and bringing her back to his home. There, she eats his cat causing Frank's wife and son to leave him. Frank turns to alcohol and while he is blacked out, Jenifer kills and begins eating Amy, a little girl that lives near Frank. He tries to get a circus worker to kidnap her and put her in the freakshow, but he finds the worker half-eaten in his refrigerator. Unable to break free from his attraction to her, Frank takes Jenifer to live with him in a cabin in the woods. What will happen to Frank and Jenifer?

I'd hate to see her on a bad day

This is certainly a weird story, but it doesn't quite reach the “Argento in his prime” weirdness.The story is fairly straightforward, and I have the feeling that I've seen something similar, but I can't place my finger on it. The makeup used on Jenifer's face is quite creepy and not easy to look at. Jenifer doesn't talk, but instead makes an array of almost-human sounds. This adds to the overall horror of the character because it is something unnatural coming from a human body, similar to the spiderwalk scene from The Exorcist or the jerking movements of the little girl from Ringu. It takes a lot for me to be shocked or taken aback from a horror movie, but the scene where Jenifer is eating Amy really stuck out to me. So much so that I actually said “That's fucked up,” something that doesn't occur often when watching a movie. I think it was mostly due to Amy being so young and the movie showing her covered in blood and entrails.

It's hard to ignore the large amounts of sex and nudity in this episode. It definitely isn't for children, and, to be honest, some adults. It was an interesting mix of eroticism and repulsion, almost like a bizarre adult Beauty And The Beast in reverse. I do find it hard to believe that Frank could become so obsessed with her, but I think it was due to some sort of pheromone or hypnosis. It wasn't really clear and was too convenient for the story's purposes. The movie doesn't have the same flare that Argento's earlier works have and could have used something to separate it from other Masters of Horror episodes. The story is a bit predictable, especially towards the end and could have use some more explanation into who or what Jenifer is.


Masters of Horror: Jenifer is a decent episode in the series with some good blood and gore. Steven Weber plays his part well enough and Carrie Fleming is fine as Jenifer. Her disfigured makeup is very good and the weird sounds she makes are very creepy. The movie is predictable and lacks that true Argento eye for film-making. There is a lot of nudity and sex in this film and is not appropriate for certain audiences. The movie does have some scary moments, but the horror tends to lag at certain points. Overall, it's a decent watch; not the best from Masters of Horror, but not the worst.



  1. I love Masters of Horror and I'm a huge fan of Dario Argento but I really didn't like this one. I was completely grossed out by that Jenifer. I know it's just a character but I'm highly convinced that her breath smelled. Gross.

  2. Yeah it wasn't great. I liked Pelts a lot more. Her face was pretty gross. I should have taken a picture of my face the first time I saw her. Would have been priceless.

  3. At the beginning, when he is untying her, she scratches his hand. This is revisited several times in the episode/movie, so it can't be coincidence. She has some kind of natural poison/drug that allows her to seduce men.