The Horror Honeys: Saturday Creature Feature with Suzanne!

Saturday Creature Feature with Suzanne!

Jennifer (1978)

After the success of Carrie (1976), we were given a plethora of movies, both theatrical and made-for-TV, about young ladies who sought supernatural revenge on the people who tormented them for being different. It’s a tried and true formula that is still being used today with an upped technology factor, as in the recent release, Unfriended. I’d like to thank our Horror TV Honey, Lisa, for taking that bullet for me, for all of us.

I thought I’d watched pretty much every film from the 70s & 80s with this basic plot line, but one escaped my attention. Jennifer Baylor (Lisa Pelikan) is a poor, but intelligent, attending a prestigious private school on scholarship. She is quiet, studious, and well-liked by everyone, except Sandra Tremayne (Amy Johnston) and her clique. Sandra is a Senator’s daughter, spoiled and entitled, and has no real reason to despise Jennifer, other than her station in life. She is determined to get Jennifer out of the school by any means necessary. 

Sandra is a particularly vicious mean girl. In her attempts to rid the school of poor Jennifer, Sandra tries to drown her during swim practice. Sandra and friends also try to humiliate Jennifer by taking nude pictures of her in the locker room and posting them around school. In a final act of depravity, Sandra kills a kitten, hangs it in Jennifer’s locker, then tries to frame her for the death. She doesn’t save her vitriol for Jennifer alone. She makes it clear to her “friends” if they aren’t with her they’re against her and is willing to sink to the depths of a planned sexual assault on one of them.
Of course, they don’t know about Jennifer’s telepathic ability to speak to snakes. 

Jennifer is a mix of many different films of the time period, but not offensively so. I actually liked the direction this film took with the overused plot. Unlike Margaret White, who saw Carrie’s telekinetic ability as evil, Mr. Baylor, sees Jennifer’s powers as a miracle. Still, Jennifer resists tapping that vein. She repressed her talent after an unfortunate accident when she was a child. It isn’t until she is pushed to the very edge that she reestablishes that connection.

Unfortunately, the special effects are incredibly bad. Real snakes were utilized for some shots, but during the explosive climax, where Jennifer looks shockingly like Piper Laurie, giant rubber snakes were used and it was far too obvious.

Of course, this film is pretty dated and the acting is mediocre, but it also stars Bert Convoy, and his perm, as a sympathetic mentor/biology teacher. So if you’re a sucker for the 70s, like I am, it’s definitely worth a watch.

 “They will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16:18

What is your favorite creature feature?
Chat about it with Suzanne on Twitter: @suzebee04