For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Showtime series Masters of Horror, slap yourself. It is one of the best genre-themed series ever. The show first began airing in 2005 and was created by Mick Garris. Each episode was an hour long and directed by a literal master of horror. One of the first episodes I remember watching and becoming completely obsessed with was Dario Argento’s ‘Jenifer’. Although it works incredibly well as an episode of the series, I am left wanting so see more and would love to see Argento adapt the episode into a feature.
This episode opens with a cop named Frank Spivey, parked in his squad car, having Chinese takeout, when he sees a man with a knife forcing a seemingly attractive woman to the ground. In order to save her, Frank draws fire, killing the man and ultimately stopping him from harming the mysterious woman. Then, Frank sees the woman’s face, which is disfigured with giant black eyeballs. That night, Frank’s wife Ruby tries to console him with sexy time. But, Frank cannot get the woman’s face out of his mind. The next day Frank speaks with a social worker who questioned the mysterious woman he saved and learns that her name is Jenifer. The social worker assumes Jenifer is mentally disabled because she can’t speak and has comparatively childish characteristics.
Completely obsessed with Jenifer, Frank takes her from the mental hospital to which she was committed and brings her to his home. That same night, Frank has a dream about Jenifer but her face isn’t deformed. When he wakes up, he finds her standing in his room terrifying his son and wife. Frank’s wife’s insists on Jenifer staying elsewhere. Thus, Frank tries to find a place for her to stay. Instead, he ends up having sexual relations with her and bringing her back home. Once home, Frank and his wife begin to argue when they discover Jenifer in their bathroom, eating their cat. Frank’s wife and son leave the house, leaving him with Jenifer. Frank begins to drink and while passed out, Jenifer eats a child that lives next door. From there Frank tries to put Jenifer in the freakshow at a circus but she ends up eating someone. Poor Frank is unsure what to do, so he goes to the forest with Jenifer to live.
I think this basic setup would make an amazing start to a film. I can definitely see this episode expanding as a full length feature. Jenifer is, in every way possible, a pure horror story, perhaps even flawless. Not only is this episode a psychologically terrifying story, there are also plenty of grotesque sights to be seen. What makes this episode so disturbing is the strange hold Jenifer has over Frank. It’s as if she has him hypnotized. The storyline is simple, but still well developed. The music that was used in this episode is perfectly fitting and would translate beautifully to a feature length production.
If ‘Jennifer’ were to be adapted for the big screen, I’d Dario Argento to direct it because he brought the episode to life and he is very much a master of the macabre. ‘Jenifer’ was expertly crafter by an incredibly talented director and I would love to see him dig deeper into her world and the mysterious hold she has on Frank.