Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Virgin Among the Living Dead (1973) Review

A Virgin Among the Living Dead
This is a slow and surreal film by legendary exploitation director Jess Franco.  I want to emphasize "slow."   It's so slow that it's difficult to stay awake at times even with so many boobies on the screen, and they are boobies of very high quality.  That's what this film has going for it: boobies... well, boobies and untamed '70s bush.  Britt Nichols, Christina von Blanc and the other ladies are indeed lovely, and usually in various states of undress.

Don't let the poster art fool you.  A Virgin Among the Living Dead has nothing to do with zombies.  Well, at least the original version didn't have zombies but when the film was re-released in 1981 at the height of the zombie movie craze, Jean Rollin filmed some sequences with people crawling out from under piles of leaves with crappy white paint on their faces and tattered clothes and called them zombies.  These scenes were then haphazardly inserted into the film and make no sense whatsoever.  Rollin had no idea that these scenes would be used for the film, he was just instructed by the studio to film some zombie stuff so that's what he did.

"Want some rye?  'Course ya do!"
Christina (Christina von Blanc) is a young woman from London who visits her reclusive family after she receives a letter from her uncle informing her that her father is dead and that she should be there for the reading of the will.  She has never known her family because her mother died when she was young and she was raised in boarding schools.

When she arrives at the local inn to spend the night before traveling to the family estate, the innkeeper tells her that nobody lives in that castle anymore.  That doesn't seem right, but whatever.  After a troubled sleep, Christina is picked up by a dim-witted mute (Jess Franco) and taken to the castle.  All of her family members act very strangely and that's because they're all dead... or undead.  They're not zombies and not exactly vampires although some do have a taste for blood.  I guess that would make them ghosts; strange, rape-y, satanic-ritual performing ghosts.

Anyway, Christina is in for a hell of a time as she sees visions of her hanged father, dead bats on her bed and blood-licking sex acts. Other times she wakes up from nightmares to find half-naked family members staring at her or a giant black dildo on the floor, etc.  You know, the usual family reunion stuff.

A Virgin Among the Living Dead is a surreal, haunting film but, as I mentioned before, it can be painfully slow and it certainly won't appeal to many.  But watch it for the boobies.  They're terrific.

Violence Rating: 3 out of 5
Booby Rating: 4 out of 5  - Click to see who gets naked and number of nude scenes

And here's one of Jean Rollin's zombies