Jennifer (1978) – By Duane L. Martin

Jennifer is a really smart girl.  So smart that she earned herself a scholarship to a private school for girls that’s mostly attended by the daughters of rich families and politicians.  The problem is, Jennifer is neither.  She’s actually a hillbilly girl whose mother ran out on her and her father, who himself is a religious fanatic…and not just a regular old religious fanatic either.  They were really into the whole snake thing that some of those weird churches are into.  Jennifer showed that she had the power to control the snakes when she was a little girl, but when the snakes bit and killed the son of the pastor, her and her father were driven out.  Now they live in the city where they run a pet store while she goes to school.

While some girls at the school are friendly to Jennifer, there’s a core group of snobby girls lef by the beautiful daughter of a senator that have made it their mission in life to drive her out just because she’s not one of them.  It doesn’t help that the matron of the school is corrupt and every problem there is with the girls ends up being Jennifer’s fault unless someone else steps in to defend her.  Her chief defender is a teacher played by Burt Convy, who himself is an honorable man who believes in what’s right rather than kissing the rear ends of the wealthy like the matron does.

Jennifer has tried to deny her powers, but when things come to a head with the girls, they leave her with no other choice but to accept who she is and to use her power to get revenge on those who’ve been tormenting her.

They say this film was inspired by Carrie, but from what I saw it’s only in the loosest of terms.  The only real similarities are that she has a parent who’s a religious fanatic and that she’s tormented by some of the other students at school.  She’s not telekinetic or anything like that.  He power is that she can create snakes out of thin air, both normal and gigantic, which she than can use to kill people in ways that are apparently undetectable before making them disappear again into thin air.

I’m not really sure how I feel about this film.  It’s a good seventies horror film and the performances are all really good, but I just didn’t connect with it for some reason.  I’m thinking it’s because of Lisa Pelikan who played Jennifer.  Not because she gave a poor performance or anything like that, but there was just something about her that felt…I dunno…generic?  I felt for the character and what she was going through, but I didn’t really connect with the actress herself.   The climax at the end with the snakes felt a little ridiculous too.  I mean, it’s not like snakes are wild animals that can run you down or something.  They’re not that hard to avoid.  Once all hell starts breaking loose, it’s not that hard to look around you and avoid them.  They even had little groups of gopher snakes, which made absolutely no sense because they’re pretty much harmless.

Amy Johnson plays the senator’s daughter, Sandra Tremayne.  She and Burt Convy playing the teacher, Jeff Reed were about the two best parts of this film.  She was a vile, conniving bitch and he was a caring, honest teacher.  Both are characters you’re able to feel strongly about, but sadly Amy Johnston never did much with her acting career, and I found out while looking up information about Burt Convy that he died of a brain tumor back in 1991 at the age of 57.

The transfer is newly remastered in HD and looks great, but there are no special features on this release and it doesn’t include subtitles.  I can live without special features, but I would have at least liked it to have had subtitles.

Jennifer is exactly what I said it was.  A decent, seventies horror flick that’s mildly entertaining with some good performances.  If you’re into that sort of thing, then pick yourself up a copy.  There are far better movies out there from this era, but there are also far worse ones.  I’d recommend checking this one out, but I’m not sure how rewatchable it is.

If you’d like to find out more about this release, you can check out its page on the Kino Lorber website here.