Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 7th, 2006
Theatrical Release Dates: USA, 2005
Director: Dario Argento
Cast: Steven Weber, Carrie Anne Fleming, Brenda James, Harris Allan
DVD released: August 15th, 2006
Approximate running time: 58 mins
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 and Stereo
DVD Release: Anchor Bay
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $16.98
Frank Spivey (Steven Weber) a detective rescues a disfigured girl named Jenifer (Carrie Anne Fleming) from a madman with a hatchet. Frank feeling guilty takes Jenifer into his home until he can find her a permanent home. Frank’s life starts to fall apart the more obsessed Jenifer becomes with him. Has Jenifer got her claws to deep into Frank or will he be able to get ride of her before it is too late?
Jenifer was adapted by Steven Weber from graphic story by Bruce Jones and Berni Wrightson. Jenifer would also mark Dario Argento’s first film that he had directed outside of Italy since his 1993 film Trauma. Argento’s direction is spot on from the beginning to the end. If anything Jenifer proves that Argento still has some of his old baroque visual style left. Argento also plays tribute to James Whale’s Frankenstein by recreating the scene where the monster kills a little girl by water. This time the scene takes place by a pool and the end result is a lot more gruesome.
Sex has always been a key ingredient when making a horror film. Those who do the dead are often the victims while those who remain pure solve the plot and remain tell the every end. The films of Dario Argento often depict sex in a negative light and those who have sex often meet with tragic ends. Jenifer like most of his previous films is about obsession and this time the object of affection comes in the form of a girl named Jenifer who has no known past or concert identity outside of her name. Not much is ever revealed about Jenifer but one thing is known for certain she loves sex. The ambiguity of the lead character Jenifer works seamlessly with the films as we are never really sure if she was born this way, did an accident cause her disfigurement or is she a being form another planet.
The acting Jenifer is some of the best performances in any Argento film with the two leads Steven Weber and Carrie Anne Fleming really shining in their respective roles. Carrie Anne Fleming as Jenifer is as flawless as a performance as you will ever see in a horror film. Her character is a mute and she conveys so much throughout the film with her body. Composer Claudio Simonetti and frequent Dario Argento collaborator provides a playful score the at times is reminiscent of Bernard Herrmann’s score for Psycho. Argento returns to his roots as he delivers the goods with several gory and bloody set pieces. This is also by far and away Argento’s most sexually explicit movie of his career.
Overall Jenifer is another solid effort from Dario Argento that achieves some much in just one hour.
Jenifer is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves its original aspect ratio. Colors look lucid and faithfully reproduced. Details look sharp in the background and foreground. Black levels remain strong throughout and grain is kept to a minimum. Outside of some minor edge enhancement the image looks exceptional.
This release comes with two audio options a Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital stereo surround. Both audio mixes are in English. Both audio mixes have a deep full bass sound and dialog sound clean with no problems of distortion or hiss. Overall both audio mixes are very good with the slight edge going to the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix which sounds more robust.
Like all the previous Masters of Horror releases this one also comes with a wealth of extras like a still gallery, an extensive bio for Dario Argento which also includes his filmography, trailers for eleven of the Masters of Horror episodes and trailer for other titles currently available from Anchor Bay. Other extras include a audio commentary with writer/actor Steven Weber and DVD producer Perry Martin. Steven Weber talks about working on Jenifer, working with Aregento and various other projects he has worked on like the remake of The Shining. Perry Martin is great as a moderator of the track as he comes up with many great questions for Steven Weber. Also included with this release is DVD-Rom content which includes the screenplay for Jenifer and a screensaver. The remaining extras comprise of seven featurette’s “So Hideous My Love” a fifteen minute interview with Dario Argento who discusses Jenifer and this featurette also includes the deleted footage from Jenifer, “Working With a Master: Dario Argento” a sixteen minute tribute to the cinema of Dario Argento that includes interviews with Howard Berger, Steven Weber, Tony Musante, Carrie Anne Fleming and Claudio Simonettti, “On Set: An Interview With Steven Weber” is a eleven minute interview with Steven Weber who discusses writing the screenplay and working with Dario Argento, “On Set: An Interview With Carrie Anne Fleming” is a ten minute interview with Carrie Anne Fleming who discusses working on the character of Jenifer and working with Dario Argento, The remaining featurette’s are “Script to Screen” (thirty eight minutes), “Behind the Scenes: The Making of Jenifer” which consists of twelve minutes of behind the scenes footage and “Howard Berger and The Make-up of Jenifer” is a twenty minute segment that shows the viewer the step by step process of putting on the Jenifer make-up. Finally this release like all the previously released Master of Horror release comes with a trading card.
Anchor Bay continues to roll out the Masters of Horror series in style with a wealth of extra features that perfectly complement Jenifer the main feature which comes with a first rate audio/video presentation, highly recommended.
For more information about Jenifer visit Anchor Bay here.