Jenifer / Do You Like Hitchcock? Dario Argento

The great thing about horror films is that most directors never lose their edge with age. Though quality isn’t always guaranteed, as the Masters of Horror series has proven, some of the genre’s heavyweights are still looking to take a stab at keeping their cameras rolling. Dario Argento is on a fertile path that finds the legendary horror icon still tapping into his creatively twisted mind. Jenifer is his contribution to the MOH cable series and as you’d expect, it’s also the creepiest one yet (save the upcoming Takashi Miike offering). Steven Weber (Wings) stars as Frank, a detective who rescues a facially disfigured woman named Jenifer from a psychotic man on the verge of killing her. As her saviour, Frank discovers that Jenifer is relentlessly devoted to him, to the point where she won’t share him with anyone, which results in a sadistic bloodbath of gory disembowelling, cannibalism and torture for those close to him. Yes, classic Argento. While the film suffers a little from its measly budget, which in turn makes it look and feel like something you’d find on TV, there’s no denying it’s shocking and nasty enough to satisfy even the biggest horror cynic. Unfortunately, the promise of a score by a member of Goblin doesn’t quite meet the standards it once did, so anyone anticipating Jenifer’s music be warned. Simultaneously on DVD is Argento’s recent feature Do You Like Hitchcock? Traversing the lines of the standard whodunit? Hitchcock formula with his usual mix of blood, guts and genuinely European characteristics (i.e., bad dubbing, foreign landscapes), DYLH? isn’t one of his better films but it does present a mystery that will keep you guessing till the last frame. The trouble is there’s little temptation to keep you engrossed until it reaches its climax, with the shoddy acting, slow-moving plot and the less-than-usual amount of gore all dragging it down. Surely capable of coming right back with another classic one of these days, it’s too early to count out Argento, as he’s still a lean, mean, horror making machine. (Anchor Bay)