Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Halloween Grudge Match: Tomie vs. Jenifer!

Frankenstein's Monster versus the Wolfman, Lycans versus Vampires, Billy the Kid versus Dracula, Freddie versus Jason, O'Brien versus Leno-- these are a few of the heavyweight horror match-ups we've thrilled to over the years. However, the most cataclysmic struggle for horror supremacy would have to be the war between Ito Junji's Tomie against Bruce Jones and Bernie Wrightson's Jenifer. One is an immortal beauty who drives men insane with lust and obsession.

The other also drives men to madness... but is somewhat less physically attractive.

Let's get ready to rrrrrrrrrruuuummmmmmmmmmblllllllllle!

Tale of the tape: I have no idea how to do a tale of the tape on these two fighters. Since she's an unearthly beauty, Tomie is probably taller than average, perfectly proportioned and with the ideal height-to-weight ratio for a young woman of her age. Jenifer looks kind of like an earthworm, so I'm guessing she's a bit under 5 feet. Advantage: Tomie

Tactics: Tomie definitely has the advantage of reach and mobility. Jenifer can rip grown men apart with her bare hands or eviscerate them with those nasty teeth. Both girls frequently exert some kind of mind control over men to have them do their dirty work-- but we've only seen Jenifer capable of controlling one fella at a time. Tomie can work her mojo on groups. So one-on-one, Jenifer would easily beat Tomie, I doubt it would come to that. Tomie would send scores of would-be lovers after Jenifer and overwhelm her foe. Advantage: Tomie

Enemies: Tomie has a multitude of enemies. Her lovers tend to go mad and kill her and there's the delightfully amoral Tsukiko who battles her for three installments. Jenifer just has the one dupe narrator, and he kind of sucks. Sure, we can blame Jenifer's mental hold on him for his indecisiveness but essentially, he's a weak-willed nothing who doesn't engender much sympathy-- he's certainly not as likable as Tsukiko. Advantage: Tomie

Powers: Jenifer is as strong as she is hideous. She also uses some sort of hypnotic control over her victims; apparently, this affects males exclusively-- the primary victim's wife is revolted by Jenifer and soon leaves. Tomie also possesses a similar faculty-- which seems to affect only males as well. However, Tomie can regenerate entirely from the smallest cell remnant. In fact, even her organs have acted as cancers that have metastasized until the host body is overwhelmed and transforms into a duplicate of Tomie herself, complete with Tomie's personality. While Tomie appears to avoid physical conflict, it's clear Jenifer's attacks on her would simply result in more and more Tomies until they swarm Jenifer and kill her. Advantage: Tomie

Story: Tomie's stories are cooler and there are more of them. As grotesque as they sometimes are, they lack the raw, visceral power of Bruce Jones's nasty short. "Jenifer," the story, is 10 pages of nauseating horror with a twist ending worth of Rod Serling. Ito Junji's stories tend to ramble with a lot less focus. We're also unsure of Tomie's motives-- does she want to be loved? Is she just randomly malicious? Jenifer undermines the family unit and perverts parental love in the name of self-preservation; she's a leech. Advantage: Jenifer

The clear-cut winner here is Tomie. I imagine a scenario where Jenifer has somehow manipulated some schmoe into taking her to Japan, where he-- near the point of nervous collapse or suicide-- proves no longer useful. Rescued by a handsome high school boy on a class trip, Jenifer begins to take over his life, all the while committing horrific murders in order to feed. Unfortunately, Jenifer has chosen as her prey someone who interests Tomie. Sensing her foe, Tomie begins working her wiles on several boys of her class and makes it known she wishes her rival to vanish.

The initial assault fails. Tomie discovers the mutilated corpses of her entourage. Enraged beyond reason, she confronts her crush and forces him to show her into his house. His parents have been murdered by Jenifer and their bodies remain in the living room, a sight that barely registers on the determined Tomie. Jenifer ambushes Tomie as she reaches the boy's bedroom. The fight lasts but a moment and Jenifer feeds on Tomie's entrails.

Soon after, Jenifer's hair turns lustrous and black and her teeth begin to recede. As her entrapped lover-pet watches, she begins to walk more upright and the knotty deformities that mar her body lessen. She even appears to have a beauty mark under her left eye-- which is itself no longer a moist, dark orb, but rather something... alluring.

Meanwhile, the blood splatters in the hallway have begun to grow (no matter how hard you scrub with bleach you can never get rid of all of them). They bulge and seem to quiver ominously, almost as if they're reacting to sound. The boy now hears Tomie's voice whispering to him, overpowering Jenifer's mental hold. He grows confused, ever more desperate-- just as Jenifer grows ever more human and beautiful. Tomie's personality begins to assert itself within Jenifer and she speaks with Tomie's voice. Now there are multiple Tomies living within the house and Jenifer is completely consumed. Having no more use for the poor high school boy, they discard him and walk off into the night together. The boy goes mad and a few days later, Tsukiko (now at a new school) reads about it in the paper and shudders, glad she no longer has to deal with Tomie.

1 comment:

Pete Mullins said...

Hey Joel...'Jennifer' really creeped me out when I first read it. A true 'horror' story in every sense.