A Virgin Among the Living Dead

A Virgin Among the Living Dead is a 1973 European erotic horror film directed by Jesús Franco. Franco shot the film in 1971[1], but it was only released in 1973 after some additional erotic footage was added to the film without Franco's involvement. It was later re-cut with some extra zombie footage and redistributed to theaters again in 1981 as a zombie film.[1] It has since been restored on DVD to Franco's original director's cut.[1]

A Virgin Among the Living Dead
Directed byJesús Franco
Produced by
  • Robert de Nesle
  • Karl Heinz Mannchen[1]
Written byJesús Franco
Starring
Production
company
Brux International Pictures
Distributed byAndrés Salvador Molina
Release date
  • 1973 (1973)
Running time
78 minutes
Country
  • Spain
  • France
LanguageFrench

Plot

A beautiful young woman named Christina arrives in Europe to visit her estranged relatives in a small castle for the reading of her dead father's will. She eventually discovers that they are all undead, and they fear that when she inherits her father's mansion, she will ask them all to leave. But Christina is lonely and tells her Uncle Howard that she wants them all to remain there and live with her. She learns that a spirit called the Queen of the Night has claimed her father's eternal soul because he committed suicide by hanging himself. Christina winds up becoming one of the living dead herself, and at the end of the film, she and the rest of the family all solemnly march off into a swamp on the grounds of the estate, accompanied by the Queen of the Night.

Cast

  • Christina von Blanc as Christina Benson
  • Britt Nichols as Carmencé (as Britt Nickols)
  • Rosa Palomar as Aunt Abigail
  • Anne Libert as The Queen of the Night
  • Howard Vernon as Uncle Howard
  • Paul Muller as Ernesto Pablo Reiner, Christina's dead father
  • Jesús Franco as Basilio (as Jesús Manera)
  • Nicole Guettard as Female Doctor in hotel (as Nicole Franco)
  • Alice Arno as Princess of Eroticism (erotic inserts in the re-edited 1973 version only)

Production

Franco shot the film in 1971[1] in Portugal,[2] where he said he had the full cooperation of the local authorities, and total license to film the outdoor nude scenes.[1] Franco stated in interviews that this was one of his favorite films because he felt the plot was "so imaginative and interesting", the actors were so enthusiastic to work with him and it was made at a very happy time in his life.[3] Franco himself played a co-starring role in this film as a mindless cretin named Basilio who walks the corridors talking in gibberish to a severed chicken's head. Franco's then-wife Nicole Guettard had a small role in the film's framing sequence as a nurse[1]

According to Franco, the original shooting title of the film was The Night of the Shooting Stars (La nuit des étoiles filantes), the title he always preferred.[4] It was released in France, however, in 1973 as Christina, Princess of Eroticism, and in Italy in 1978 as The Erotic Dreams of Christine; both versions contained new porn inserts featuring Alice Arno added to the film without Franco's consent. Franco was not involved in filming the padded sex scenes.

Producer Marius Lesoeur later had horror director Jean Rollin direct some newly filmed zombie footage that was added to Franco's film for its 1981 re-release, under the new title A Virgin Among the Living Dead. At this time, the English dub was also recorded, the Arno porn footage was excised and the film was released on VHS.

The film was released years later on DVD with the 1981 Rollin zombie footage removed and the film restored to basically the way Franco originally shot it, but the film's title has always remained A Virgin Among the Living Dead, a title which Franco abhorred.[3]

Home media releases

The film was first released on VHS in the United States as A Virgin Among the Living Dead by Wizard Video (the 1981 re-release with the added Rollin zombie footage included.[5])

The film was released the same way on DVD in the United States by Image Entertainment in 2003 as part of their EuroShock horror line.[3]

On August 20, 2013, a Blu-ray edition, containing Franco's original director's cut, was made available by Redemption.[6] Rollin's zombie footage is on the disc as well as an extra feature separate from the film.

Alternative titles include: A comme apocalypse; Among the Living Dead; Christina chez les morts vivants; Christina, princesse de l'erotisme; Christina, Sex Princess; La nuit des etoiles filantes; Los suenos eroticos de Christine; and Zombie 4[7]

Reception

Richard Whittaker of The Austin Chronicle called it "one of the most infamously mutilated underground favorites", and said the original Franco version is the best cut of the film.[8] Chris Alexander of Fangoria called the original Franco cut "a loose, atmospheric masterpiece of pure cinema".[9] Gordon Sullivan of DVD Verdict wrote that the Kino-Redemption release is "a triumph for Franco fans, though unlikely to appeal outside that demographic".[10] Bill Gibron of DVD Talk rated it 3.5 out of 5 stars, calling it "a truly unnerving experience representing Franco at his most visually arresting".[11] Writing in The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia, academic Peter Dendle called it "an atrophied psychological horror, which is over-stylish and impressionistic to the point of incoherence".[7]

See also

References

  1. Thrower, Stephen; Grainger, Julian (2015). Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema of Jesús Franco. Strange Attractor Press. p. 428. ISBN 978-1-907222-31-3.
  2. Alexander, Chris (2013-08-20). "Jess Franco's "A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD" (Blu-ray Review)". Fangoria. Archived from the original on 2015-02-17. Retrieved 2015-02-16.
  3. Blumberg, Arnold T.; Hershberger, Andrew (2013) [2006]. Zombiemania. Telos Publishing. p. 354. ISBN 978-1-84583-817-1.
  4. "BIFFF 20". DevilDead.com. Retrieved 2015-02-16.
  5. Alexander, Chris (2013-12-09). "EXCLUSIVE: Charles Band Announces Wizard Studios". Fangoria. Archived from the original on 2015-02-17. Retrieved 2015-02-16.
  6. "Kino Lorber and Redemption Release Jess Franco's A Virgin Among the Living Dead, Nightmares Come at Night, and The Awful Dr. Orlof on Blu-ray and DVD" (Press release). New York City, NY: Kino Lorber. 2013-08-06. Retrieved 2013-08-23.
  7. Dendle, Peter (2001). The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia. McFarland & Company. pp. 128–129. ISBN 978-0-7864-9288-6.
  8. Whittaker, Richard (2013-08-25). "DVDanger: 'Alyce Kills'/'A Virgin Among the Living Dead'". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2015-02-16.
  9. Alexander, Chris (2013-08-20). "Jess Franco's "A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD" (Blu-ray Review)". Fangoria. Archived from the original on 2015-02-17. Retrieved 2015-02-16.
  10. Sullivan, Gordon (2013-08-13). "A Virgin Among the Living Dead (Blu-ray)". DVD Verdict. Retrieved 2015-02-16.
  11. Gibron, Bill (2013-09-17). "A Virgin Among The Living Dead: Remastered Edition". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2015-02-16.
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