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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Jennifer, The Snake Goddess

   Jennifer a.k.a Jennifer the Snake Goddess was my holy grail of movies. I learned of this film's existence in one of Leonard Maltin's movie guides and was instantly intrigued. The movie and I shared a name and was also released the same year I was born.

    But the film remained elusive to me for many years, until one happy day I stumbled across a copy. A lot of people refer to this as a rip off of Carrie which was released two years prior. I don't see it, while it shares a similar plot it is a far superior movie.

    To start with the main character is more admirable than Carrie. She is no wilting violet languishing in a corner, she is a stronger and more intense heroine. Jennifer is played by Lisa Pelikan who deserved a better career than Ghoulies and Return to Blue Lagoon.

    Jennifer is a poor rural farm girl with a scholarship to an elite private school. Of course, that automatically makes her the school whipping boy. Her main nemesis is Sandra, an untouchable politician's daughter who is far more psychotic than any bully Carrie had to offer. Unfortunately for the mean girls, Jennifer has a special power that she has been trying to suppress for years.

    Carrie was an okay film with some iconic scenes and great cinematography  but was also marred by some horrid soundtrack choices and rampant over acting. Jennifer, however took itself seriously, there's no gore, no cheap scares tacked on at the end. This movie's horror was more subtle than scary. There's actual character and plot development. No blood or unnecessary nudity. A pleasure to watch.

     The movie was not 100% perfect, the film loses points during the big climax. This is the only point in the film where I agree with the rip off theory. Jennifer's psychotic death by jazz hands routine was painful to watch. And the snakes were bottom barrel special effects, and I don't mean by today's standards either. Come on this was the era of Star Wars and Jaws, they could have been slightly better.

    But all in all, Jennifer is well done horror film and twice as good as Carrie. I'd recommend it to any '70s horror movie enthusiast.