Jenifer (2005)

Starring Steven Weber, Carrie Anne Fleming, Brenda James, Harris Allan, Beau Starr, Laurie Brunetti

Directed by Dario Argento

Expectations: Low. I’m still interested in Argento, but he’s done me wrong more often than not.

Jenifer is an interesting Masters of Horror episode, and certainly a good one when compared to the usual quality of these, but what really holds it back is its ridiculously predictable storyline. Literally within the first few minutes I had already guessed (correctly) how the story would end. This makes the task of watching Jenifer a bit of a pointless endeavor, but at least it’s respectably well made, something I can’t say for every episode of the series. For obvious reasons, I’ll refrain from relating any of the plot, as knowing anything would spoil the whole thing.

Jenifer is arguably the best looking Masters of Horror episode yet, featuring none of the visual jank and cheap CG art that has cropped up in varying degrees in every previous episode. The cinematography is nice and the shots are mostly interesting. I also didn’t get the claustrophobic feel that most of the other episodes gave me. The only computer imagery I noticed was a fly bothering two men while eating in the opening moments. Everything else was realized in the real world by KNB FX in stunning, graphic detail. This episode probably has the most graphic gore I’ve seen in the series so far, with severed torsos, entrails and chopped up bodies showing up often. It all looks incredibly convincing and horrific, but because I didn’t care much for the characters, it wasn’t particularly effective in scaring or creeping me out. At the end of the day, gore is great, but I want some story to go with it. That being said, I welcome a fun gorefest with only a modicum of story. Key word being fun.

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Uncle Jasper reviews: Slither (2006)

Starring Elizabeth Banks, Nathan Fillion, Michael Rooker, Gregg Henry, Tania Saulnier, Jenna Fischer, Brenda James

Directed By James Gunn

Slither isn’t going to win any awards for originality. It wears its inspirations pretty clearly on its sleeve. Fans of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers and Basket Case will no doubt find themselves on familiar ground here. It’s what writer/director James Gunn does in this familiar territory that makes this movie so damn special. Slither turns back the clock and  manages to conjure up some of that old ’80s video store magic when almost any low-budget pick from the horror aisles was guaranteed to be a surefire hit. But wait, this is a Hollywood film… made in the 2000’s… it has no right to be this fucking good.

A veteran of Troma Entertainment, Gunn stays true to his roots and somehow manages to circumvent the bland thrills and commercial impotence of modern Hollywood horror by giving us something we haven’t seen since we filed away our last issue of Fangoria magazine years ago. Gunn is able to deliver the goods because he is an obvious longtime fan himself. Equal parts raucous comedy and schlocky horror, Slither manages to blend these genres smoothly without falling into the common trap of one suffering at the cost of the other. Not many films are able to successfully pull this off. I’m instantly reminded of Evil Dead II here and maybe only a handful of others. A true product of one fan’s love for the genre, Slither shows no shame for what it is, and in fact, revels in it. It’s crass, gross, sleazy, and loud and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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