If you are a horror hound who grew up during the 1970s, then no doubt you read the Warren publications Creepy and Eerie (if not, what’s the matter with you?). In Creepy #63, there appeared a story titled “Jenifer,” written by Bruce Jones and illustrated by the Master of the Macabre, Berni Wrightson. In the capable hands of Dario Argento (Suspiria and Inferno, among so many others), this “love story of a monster” comes to the television screen, albeit a bit censored—it’s okay, though, as the DVD provides the censored footage as part of the bonus package.
Jenifer is an exercise in obsession. It begins when police officer Frank Spivey (Steven Weber, who also wrote the script) shoots an old man who is trying to kill a disfigured young woman. As the old man dies, he croaks out one word, “Jenifer!”
Despite a hideous face, there’s something uncomfortably alluring about Jenifer. It could be her incredibly hot body, provided by the luscious actress/model Carrie Ann Fleming, or it could be her gentle and waifish behavior, which in an odd way is incredibly endearing. Spivey’s sympathy for the girl soon leads to outright sexual obsession, turning his world upside down and eroding facets of his life. In the meantime, Jenifer devours the family housecat, a neighbor’s child, and a sideshow promoter. Spivey eventually discovers the girl’s cannibalistic predilection and abandons wife and house, taking Jenifer to a cabin, where he attempts to cope with his debilitating compulsion.
Unfortunately, Jenifer grows ever-hungry, and despite Spivey’s constant supply of meat (of both varieties, mind you), she manages to escape and seduce a young boy. While pleasuring the young man with fellatio, she helps herself to some charged beef. Spivey manages to find Jenifer in midconsumption, and raging like the old man at the beginning of the tale, sets out to kill her. But before he can accomplish his goal, a hunter comes upon the scene, shooting Spivey. As Jenifer paws at her new-found benefactor, Spivey croaks out his last word, “Jenifer!”
With an incredible score by Claudio Simonetti (Goblin) and under the firm hand of Argento, Jenifer is easily one of the best episodes of season one. Repulsive, seductive, and psychopathic all at once, the character of Jenifer serves as a modern-day succubus whose “supernatural” powers reside in her physical and emotional attributes. Both Weber and Fleming turn in outstanding performances, but it’s really Fleming who has the more difficult part, as she must convey lust and vulnerability while covered with face makeup and wearing only a flimsy nightgown during most of the movie.
Jenifer will give you the creeps long after it’s over.