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A Virgin Among the Living Dead

While most horror films sporting lurid titles rarely make good on their lascivious promise, Jess Franco dependably delivers the goods. Also known (and recut, and butchered) as Among the Living Dead; Christine, Princess of Eroticism; I Desideri erotici di Christine; Une vierge chez les morts vivants; Una Vergine tra i morti viventi; and Zombi 4: A Virgin Among the Living, this thankfully brief and occasionally tantalizing horrotica tone-poem stars the pretty Christina von Blanc as an American teenager beset by seamy zombie-like relatives while at a secluded European mansion for the reading of her estranged father's will. Franco knows all too well how to fetishize nudity with creepy effect, and his overplayed shocks always enjoyably stand apart from his otherwise inept visual style. The decent (for this genre, at least) cast includes Howard Vernon, Britt Nichols, Rosa Palomar, and Franco himself. For a movie that was heavily altered for various theatrical and video releases, this Image Entertainment DVD release is considered the definitive original director's cut, running 78 minutes in a fairly good anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with monaural audio. Included on the disc is 13 minutes of footage added for later releases, most of which features a poor von Blanc stand-in gracelessly covering her face while being chased (or raped) by lethargic zombies who have nothing to do with the original movie. Also here is a trailer (mostly a collection of the film's nude scenes) and interesting (if self-aggrandizing) liner notes by genre journalist Tim Lucas. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr



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