Another Nine Nights of Argento #8 – “Masters of Horror: Jenifer” (2005)

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Here we go again! For my third annual Halloween trek through horror master Dario Argento‘s frightful filmography, I’m glopping through a gory grab bag of the Giallo madman’s screenplays, TV work, and other obscure treats.

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In the mid 00’s, the Mick Garris-produced Showtime anthology series Masters of Horror offered up famous horror directors the chance to have carte blanche in telling the most horrific stories they could in 60 minutes. A star-studded filmmaker roster included John Carpenter, Don Coscarelli, Joe Dante, Tobe Hooper, John Landis, Lucky McGee, Stuart Gordon, Takashi Miike, and one Dario Argento. Arguably, no one had more to prove than Argento, and nobody involved seized the opportunity with more relish.

Argento’s first of two episodes for the show involves a hideously deformed seductress named Jenifer (Carrie Fleming) who is repellent to most people and Viagra to a select few. When married police officer Frank (Steven Weber) saves Jenifer from a near-butchery at the hands of a vagrant with a cleaver, he feels an obligation to the victim that slowly turns into something more twisted.

Soon, Frank’s life goes down the tubes as he becomes fixated on the young girl, perhaps because he’s willing to look past her warped face, drool, and giant black eyes and see her for the hot torso, arms, and legs that make up the real Jenifer. Sure, she kills and eats animals and children, but nobody’s perfect, right? Relationships are about compromise.

Expertly balancing the gore and the sexuality, this is Argento in his latter-day prime. Jenifer herself, as realized by the latex masters of KNB EFX group, is a nightmarish creation and ranks among the best of this series’ numerous monsters and murderers. While the episode ends abruptly with a few loose ends, it’s rare to leave an Argento film wanting more than less.

Next Up: MASTERS OF HORROR: PELTS (2006)

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Categories: Dario Argento, Director Spotlight, Features

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