Reviews
Christina, Princesse de L'erotisme (1973) 1 brain1 brain
(France)

Alternate Titles:

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
A Virgin Among the Living Dead
Zombi 4: A Virgin Among the Living


There are at least two versions of this film, and I should say right off the bat that the one I watched had no zombies. I wasn't aware that there even were different versions until after I had seen it, or I would have watched the one that did have zombies. From what I read, though, even that didn't really make it a zombie film, other than the fact that scenes from Zombie Lake had been spliced in as dream sequences. As I've observed before on this site, the people that made that choice probably assumed that if they added zombies to it, at least somebody would watch it.

I'm not saying that the film didn't need some repackaging. The original title, Christine, Princess of Eroticism, sounds like soft-core porn (and some would argue that this is accurate). Writer/director Jess Franco is known for showing lots of skin in his films, but to give the man his due, I wouldn't call this movie porn. This was the kind of film that producers use as an example when they tell young starlets that they're making "an art film." (If they even still do that anymore. I think most young starlets have probably wised up to that particular ploy, even they were ever even not wise to it.) The only other film of Franco's that I've seen was Oasis of the Zombies, which had a sex scene, but was not particularly erotic. In Christine, the atmosphere of the whole movie was charged with eroticism, so although you could argue that it wasn't strictly necessary to the plot for the heroine's clothes to be absent in certain scenes, these scenes added to and blended with the movie as a whole in ways that avoided seeming gratuitous.

Given that eroticism is such a strong theme of the movie, perhaps the original title isn't completely inappropriate after all, but then there's much of the movie that can't be gleaned from the title. The movie is about Christine (Christina Benson), a young woman who has grown up completely separate from her family, and is returning to the family estate for the reading of her father's will for the first time since she was a toddler. The locals react with disbelief and superstition when she tells them where she's going, since they believe that nobody is still alive there. As Christine proceeds towards the valley and castle where her family lives, a sense of dread begins to grow in the movie, which Franco intertwines with the eroticism so that the two grow together.

I may have gone too far now and made Franco sound like a genius filmmaker, which based on this film he is not. The movie often drags, and the argument for the necessity or worth of some of the nude scenes gets paper thin in some places. There's also a voiceover narration that can verge on the ridiculously poetic, although it does help establish the mood of the movie. However, by most accounts it is still a much better movie than the repackaged version, A Virgin among the Living Dead (with the zombies spliced in). In this version all the nude scenes are removed, and the scenes that were added have little context and serve only to make things more confusing. So this is a strange review in that the movie I should be discussing is one that I haven't really seen, since it sounds like the changes involved were pretty remarkable. The movie I am discussing wasn't a zombie film by any stretch. However, I still feel safe in saying that you are probably better off avoiding the zombie version of this film. I mean, come on, they stole scenes from Zombie Lake! How much could that really improve things?