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It's a shame that most people here seem to have seen a cut version of this
film, because the actual original is absolutely beautiful, and belies the
criticism that Franco was a complete hack. It is a perfect example of what
can be achieved in the horror genre with an almost zero budget in what was
probably the director's busiest period.
However most people seem to have seen the US release print, which also
circulated on video in the UK in the 80's under the title of `The Invisible
Dead'. This film was marketed as being a successor to Fulci's `Zombi', and
basically was padded out with scenes from Jean Rollin's `Lake of Zombies'
(shot almost 10 years after Franco's original film) and had all nudity
There is another version which circulated with hardcore black mass footage featuring Franco regular Alice Arno and a host of stunt doubles for Vernon, Nichols and von Blanc.
The only video release of the original film at present is on Redemption, featuring a couple of nude mass scenes, some lesbian vampire sucking, a bizarre scene where Christina knocks over a giant phallus and an effectively hypnotic score from Bruno Nicolai. The UK version is missing the rather graphic rape scene present in the Benelux versions.
Christina von Blanc never unfortunately appeared in any other Franco films in fact only appeared in a couple of others including the giallo `L'Etrusco uccide ancora'. The delightful pairing of Britt Nichols and Anne Libert occurs again in his bizarre `Erotic Rites of Frankenstein' and `Les Demons', amongst other films of the period. If you are interested in Franco, this is one of his best of the period, very atmospheric and deserves to be seen in its original version.
This was only my fourth Jess Franco movie: not as satisfying overall as
THE DIABOLICAL DR. Z (1965), not as thematically compelling as
THE STORY OF HER JOURNEY INTO PERVERSION (1969) but it has,
perhaps, the most haunting quality of all. So far, only LUCKY THE
INSCRUTABLE (1967) has proved disappointing and, therefore, I look
forward to acquiring some more of his remarkably prolific work.
As always Franco did not have much of a budget to work with: consequently, the film is visibly cheap (though I must say it suits the mood perfectly!) and his direction suffers for it, given as he is to an over-use of zoom shots, but still manages enough inventive touches throughout to draw one into the proceedings. Bruno Nicolai's score, though not as catchy as his EUGENIE soundtrack, is certainly varied and weird enough to be quite effective. The film also makes good use of natural locations the chateau, the forest, the pond which give it a distinctly European look.
The plot (what little there is of it) is quite bizarre and deliberately ambiguous but the surreal, dream-like quality it creates effectively balanced by macabre touches of comedy is wholly infectious, making the film an enjoyable one despite its shortcomings.
The casting is an integral part of the film's success: Christina von Blanc is simply gorgeous, and a more than adequate heroine in the circumstances; Britt Nichols' contribution, then, can best be described by these three adjectives: beautiful, mischievous and memorable; Anne Libert is yet another highly attractive lady but her role, even if appropriately death-like, is a little too sketchy; Howard Vernon lends the film a certain style and a dash of sophisticated humor it would otherwise have lacked (this is perhaps the most impressive performance by him I have seen yet, despite brief stints in Melville's BOB LE FLAMBEUR , Lang's THE THOUSAND EYES OF DR. MABUSE  and Godard's ALPHAVILLE ) also, it is rather amusing to see gay Howard Vernon being surrounded by so many lovely women who, more often than not, have no clothes on!; Paul Muller is again underused - as he was in EUGENIE - as well as (necessarily) cramped here, though he manages to make his presence felt throughout the entire film; Jess Franco himself is funny and oddly endearing as the mute servant, a potentially irritating character.
I would like to say something about Franco's use of nudity: while frequently gratuitous, it is also undeniably striking (at least judging by this film and EUGENIE) and watching, say, Christina von Blanc asleep or taking a swim in the nude is not simply a case of voyeurism because the images in themselves are beguiling on an artistic level. That said, the S&M lesbian scene between Nichols and the blind girl is quite a head-scratcher! In my opinion, Nichols' seduction of von Blanc is the film's most potent sexual image.
I have read a number of reviews on this film as well as some of the discussion in connection with it on other boards, where a lot has been made of the fact that the version featured on the Image DVD may not be the definitive Director's Cut after all! Francesco Cesari mentioned a misplaced scene (Christina's 'death'), but all I can say is that it did not jump out at me on a first viewing (of course, Franco's work is open to several interpretations) though it is true that Anne Libert, the 'Queen of the Night', had no reason as such to get undressed! On the other hand, the ebony phallus did come (oops, no pun intended!) out of nowhere: the way it was introduced, strangely enough, reminded me of the first appearance of the monolith in Kubrick's 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) - as well as bearing an obvious similarity to a particular ornament in his A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971)!! Also, the odd repetition of scenes with Muller 'calling' von Blanc felt like padding at one point, this occurred three times in a row (!), i.e. until Muller himself explained that he was being forced to do so by Libert, who is really after the girl. But, as a general rule, I was satisfied by the film without leaving me asking for more, as it were. Apparently, the longest existing version of the film runs 105 minutes (often mentioned by Robert Monell) but, at that length, the film's quirky charm is bound to flounder especially in view of the distinctly graceless added zombie sequences.
I am of the opinion that Christina (much like Lisa in Mario Bava's LISA AND THE DEVIL ) is already dead at the beginning of the movie, only she doesn't know it sort of a wayward ghost and her family's ploy (the reading of the will) was only a means of reclaiming her. The cut back to the tavern near the end, I guess, means that Christina maybe dreamt the whole thing but, then, her 'return' to the chateau immediately afterwards, in a way, indicates that she has now accepted her death as relived in her dream state and is therefore perfectly willing to be led into the swamp by the Queen of the Night, followed by the rest of her family now that their 'job' is done. I'm sure that with repeated viewings, I'll be able to read more into it and, perhaps, even discover flaws I would not have immediately noticed!
As for the DVD itself, Michael Elliott has said that the Image transfer is the best he has seen; well, to my eyes, it is certainly nothing earth-shaking. There is a frequent hiss on the soundtrack, but the audio is otherwise serviceable and, thankfully, the original language is available. The deleted scenes are just terrible I know I don't ever want to watch the dreaded Jean Rollin cut of the film, a travesty on the lines of THE HOUSE OF EXORCISM (1975) though I still wish that all of the 'extra' footage could have been assembled for this edition. The theatrical trailer is interesting for a number of alternate shots and at least one curious outtake. Tim Lucas' liner notes are typically reverent but also reasonably knowledgeable of the film's chequered history and I agree with Francesco Cesari that Lucas' personal interpretation of the events of the film are entirely valid.
Finally, Robert Monell's description of A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD's partial remake THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR (1973), admittedly a far more poetic title is indeed enticing and, hopefully, this too can be released in future (depending on available elements) by Image themselves, Blue Underground or Synapse, all of whom have demonstrated a commitment to Franco's films by preparing a handful of titles in top-quality DVD editions.
I'm not implying that watching this drunk would be a great idea, I
meant it in a "Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas" kind of way, if that makes
no sense. nevermind. Back to the subject. We already have Night of the
Living Dead, Erotic Nights of the Living Dead, we even got a Hell of
the Living Dead, so why the hell not A Virgin Among the Living Dead?
They could probably use one. Although, that's not the original title,
and has absolutely nothing to do with what goes on, I'm not entirely
sure what to think of this one, yet, that's probably why I dig it so
much. What almost seems more like some kind of shroom-dream... make
that shroom-nightmare, A Virgin Among the Living Dead is director, Jess
Franco's exploration into the grey area between life and death, or at
least that's what they say. As of this moment, all traditional B-horror
rules have now been thrown out the window.
We begin with a young woman, Christina, traveling to an out of the way, castle, in Spain. There, stay the relatives of her estranged father, who has recently committed suicide, soon, there will be a reading of the will. Once Christina arrives in town, she's looked at like shes crazy after asking for directions, she's told no one lives there. The next day, with the guidance of a mute, Christina arrives at Monserat, to find that all her relatives are somewhere between eccentric, and insane. Monserat is filled with some kind of evil/confusion/ insanity, it's just very incoherent. Although her peculiar relatives seem kind of harmless, Christina suspects that something is a little off, when her step-mother warns her to leave, seconds before her death, not to mention bizarre occurrences such as, waking up one morning to find a big, black dildo on the floor, and a blind girl sitting in the corner, walking in on blood sucking sessions, finding dead bats on her bed, just, confusion, after confusion. and not even being allowed to have friends over, also seems a bit suspicious. Besides all the random confusion, it really seems like death is hovering over everything. With this film coming off as a dream, and being about death, then, isn't this just one big nightmare? Possibly, but I think it's deeper than that.
It is said that Jess Franco made this film as a way to cope with the death of Soledad Miranda, hence, the emphasis on death. For a horror film to come off as a genuine nightmare will always be a job well done, regardless of the intended message. Whatever message Franco intended, was intended for Franco, we're just lucky that he shared it with us, because witnessing such surreal magnificence really is a rare experience. The vibe of this film is simply indescribable. For more dream on film, check out Messiah of Evil, and Death Bed, although, You really won't find anything quite like this one anywhere, not even from Franco. Above all else, A Virgin Among The Living Dead is bold, independent film-making in its purest form. 9/10
most have only seen the cut version with added zombie footage shot by director Jean Rollin, which makes the film an irritating, confusing mess. the uncut european version is a GREAT confusing mess! one of Franco's personal favorites, which he also ha a meaty acting role as Basillio, a deranged mute. great cinematography, great weird performances from all the actors, and a kick-ass score by Brun Nicholi. best watched very late at night, but be sure to track down an uncut print.
Take a dash of Franco and layer in a generous helping of Rollin and,
viola!, you have A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD.
This is a work of atmosphere and subtle eroticism. Although it is not a zombie film, death -- and those who wear its cloak -- is its central theme.
Christina von Blanc, an achingly beautiful creature, plays Englishwoman "Christine" who journeys to the rambling estate of her late father (Franco regular Paul Muller) for the reading of his will. Her stay is a nightmarish one as she is harassed by several socially challenged relatives (Howard Vernon being one), a muttering Igor (Franco himself) and local miscreants.
Not as technically accomplished as Franco work such as THE AWFUL DR. ORLOFF or even DR. ORLOFF'S MONSTER, this piece is, nevertheless, dream-like and filled with mood and unease. Bruno Nocolai's score is quietly evocative and Jose Climent's photography is low rent but brimming with inspiration. The rural locations are gorgeous, too.
Typically, the dramatic revelations are hackneyed and not everything makes much sense, but that is Franco's way, and if you can't accept that, steer clear of his fascinating, uneven oeuvre.
Ms. von Blanc makes every one of her screen moments sparkle and comes closest to possessing the magical aura of the late, great Soledad Miranda, Franco's most exquisite leading lady and muse.
Many of the comments here are written about the hacked up version of 'A
Virgin Among The Living Dead' so ignore them. This is actually a very
watchable movie, not the best Jess Franco I have seen, but still above
average. More an erotic fantasy than a horror movie per se, it will appeal
to fans of 60s/70s Euroschlock like 'Nude For Satan' and Franco's classic
The stunningly beautiful Christina von Blanc plays the lovely innocent Christina Benson, who is summoned from boarding school in England to the reading of her father's will in a spooky castle. She never really knew her father, or had previously met her bizarre relatives who live in the castle, which according to the locals is deserted. It doesn't take much to work out her family's "secret", the title tells all. Christina however, is a bit slow to catch on. She spends most of her time wandering around in a daze, often naked (great news for us viewers!), and increasingly unable to tell dream from reality.
There's not much action in this movie, and very little horror, but it has an almost Argento-like nightmarish feel to it, and like most of Franco's output, is very stylish despite the obviously low budget. The sight of the gorgeous Ms. Blanc is more than enough for me to recommend this movie. One look at her and any failings 'A Virgin Among The Living Dead' has will quickly be forgotten! An enjoyable fun movie.
And does that EVER apply here! I have a really soft spot for this crapper.
Long, long ago, I saw it under the title "A Virgin Among the Living Dead".
It made no sense! Then, years later, in my pursuit of obtaining bad films,
found an almost-uncut version. There are so many different edits of this
film, it's hard to find the definitive cut. The one I currently have makes
much more sense than the usual rental version.
To clear things up, zombies were not part of the original film (titled "Christine, Princess of Eroticism"). The zombie footage was taken mostly - if not entirely - from "Zombie Lake" (1980), which means they were spliced in well after "Virgin" was released (1971). Anyway, "Virgin" is about a girl named Christine, who journeys to her uncle's chateau for the reading of his will. What she finds is both revolting (to the squeamish) and humorous. Jess Franco does his job of playing the disheveled freak rather well. He just looks like a sleazebag. He also does an adequate directing job. The movie is very stylish as is typical with Franco's work, but also rather visually stunning, with the shots of the lush forest surrounding the chateau. There is even some strong atmosphere, particularly when, in one scene, Christine's uncle is drawn back into the shadows after speaking to her.
The film culminates in a sexual ritual that is severely--not to mention ridiculously, at least with the "Zombie 4" version--edited on any of the American prints. In fact, many of the scenes that help make the film more cohesive are also excised from American prints. The (as close as possible to) uncut version is really good if given a chance. Though not necessary, outside. . .influences can only help the viewer (and no doubt were used during the making of this trash classic). "Virgin" + melatonin + dank fun dreamy state.
Unfortunately, as so many others have mentioned, you won't see Christine nude unless you can find a completely unedited tape. She sure is hot! Shame she was only in three films (at least according to the IMDb). So that's it. I like it, but most don't. It's worth seeing just because it's better than any given American slasher flick.
A Virgin Among the Living Dead was directed by the mega prolific Jess
Franco at a period when he was delivering his most consistently
interesting work. It's definitely one of his better films. It's another
low budget sexploitation flick that was obviously cheaply made but
there is no denying that this was one of the movies where Franco took a
bit more care. The result is an effectively dream-like and quite
stylish erotic horror.
The story revolves around a girl who travels to a remote mansion for the reading of the will of her recently deceased father. While there she encounters her very strange relatives and pretty soon a series of bizarre events start to occur, including strange supernatural happenings.
This is one of the movies that really shows that Franco definitely had something interesting to offer. His filmography was wildly erratic and uneven, which is really to be expected for a director responsible for two hundred films. However, on occasion his left-field, slightly surrealistic style produced movies that were amongst the best in the erotic genre. There is definitely an interesting ambiance to this one. The selection of weird characters and the strange events experienced by the heroine are all successfully dream-like. There is a fair bit of striking imagery such as the seated man who is pulled slowly backwards into a black void, a strange night-time walk through the woods, a vampiric lesbian coupling and the occult ceremony near the end. The latter is scored by cool music by Bruno Nicolai whose soundtrack is very good throughout the film and helps sustain the mood. Franco regular Howard Vernon plays a lecherous uncle but best of all is Christina von Blanc in the title role. She was very beautiful and this is one of her rare appearances.
The student Christina Reiner (Cristine von Blanc) travels from her
boarding school in London to the castle of her family in Montserrat for
the reading of the will of her father that she has never known and
recently committed suicide. On the arrival, she spends the night in an
inn and people tell that nobody lives at the castle. On the next
morning, the mute servant Basilio (Jesús Franco) brings Christina to
the Montserrat castle, where she meets her weird Uncle Howard (Howard
Vernon) that is playing waltz on the piano and her cousin Carmencé
(Britt Nickols) that is painting her nails and they tell that her
stepmother Herminia (Rose Kiekens) is on the deathbed. She visits
Hermínia that tells her to leave the castle and dies. Christina also
meets her Aunt Abigail (Rosa Palomar) and a Blind Girl and while
waiting for the attorney, she entwines daydreams and nightmares with
reality. When she has an encounter with the spirit of her deceased
father Ernesto Pablo Reiner (Paul Muller), he tries to warn her to
leave that place that is evil, but it is too late.
"La nuit des étoiles filantes" is a stylish and senseless trash by Jésus Franco. The story has a promising beginning, but suddenly the plot seems to be incomplete and does not make sense at all. I believe that the problem is the different versions of Jésus Franco's feature. The DVD released in Brazil, for example, has audio only in English and Portuguese but the introduction is written in French; the lead character is Christina Reiner, and not Christina Benton; there is Death, and not The Queen of the Night; the raping scene is totally mutilated. Therefore, his movies are edited in the most different ways and this procedure certainly makes the story senseless. My vote is two.
Title (Brazil): "A Virgem e os Mortos" (The Virgin and the Dead")
This was certainly one strange movie: Carmencé (Britt Nichols) is doing
her toenails during a funeral service, and a head as a flower vase is
in her room. Christina (Christina von Blanc) even drops in unexpectedly
while Carmencé is licking blood from a blind girl (Linda Hastreiter).
Everyone keeps telling Christina that no one lives in the castle she is visiting. One has to wonder as they do not eat with her. Maybe they are ghosts. They certainly don't object when she inherits everything from her father.
She not only sees her dead father (Paul Muller) several times, but he talks to her. Is she dreaming? Is she dead and just doesn't know it? Death runs though this film.
I have to say for a low budget film, it was beautifully done; the scenery and music were very good, and it was strangely interesting.
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