A Virgin Among the Living Dead (1973)

A Virgin Among the Living Dead Blu Ray CoverThis dreamlike (or haphazardly incompetent depending on how low your tolerance for 1970s Eurotrash is) tale of a naive gal from the city falling in with her deranged relatives at their country estate does a nice job showing how much of our perceptions about people are shaped by the culture we are raised in.

For instance, in America when you hear a gal is a virgin, you can take it to the bank that she has a skin condition, attends a bible college and dresses like Laura Ingalls Wilder’s conservative sister. In Europe though, their virgins are super models who have no problem carrying on conversations with total strangers while wearing only a shirt and sheer panties!

While this surely helps to explain Europe’s migrant problem, it really only makes sense for this to occur so early in the film as an effort to keep the audience from bailing out on its ill-advised overuse of zooming close ups and even more ill-advised overuse of a story as dull as our virgin (Christina) shows she is when instead of fleeing as soon as she lays eyes on her degenerate relations, she goes skinny dipping!

Christina does have enough sense to be embarrassed and frightened when it becomes apparent that almost half the locals are peeping her. A friendly guy chases two perverts away and is incredulous when Christina tells him she’s staying with her family at the mansion since everyone in the area knows no one is living there.

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Reluctantly, he accompanies her back to the mansion where Christina’s uncle scares him off and slaps her around for bringing an outsider back with her! But don’t get your virginal sexy panties in a knot, Christina because the reading of your father’s will is tomorrow and you are in line for some bitchin’ swag!

Director Jesús Franco seems to play the scene of the lawyer reading the will for laughs (as opposed to scenes that he played straight, but still provoked laughs like when the mute character he himself played was holding Christina’s stepmother’s severed hand while Christina was talking to her aunt right next to him) with the lawyer mumbling and droning on and on through all the legal boiler plate before announcing that Christina got everything including her dad’s collection of ebony phalluses!

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A Virgin Among the Living Dead lets down in almost ever facet, from the decided lack of zombies the title seemed to promise, to not being nearly as sleazy as it seemed to want to be (No shower scenes? Only mild lesbian overtones? The mute never stole her sheer panties?) to the decidedly low wattage terror that ultimately confronted Christina, but there was one thing the film delivered on – the ebony phallus! In the film’s funniest and most memorable scene, Christina wakes up too see a large black dingus sitting on her bedroom floor! Crawling naked to it, she smashes it, making dudes everywhere wince.

But what did it all mean? Did it have anything to do with the dead bats in her bed or the planter shaped liked a severed head? Or why the locals think the mansion is deserted? Or the conversation she has with her dead father (noose still around his neck and blood trickling from his mouth) where he warns her to leave? And why was one of the peepers taking her temperature and giving her a shot in her ass?

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By the time Christina is being lead back into the pond where she first skinny dipped while everyone from the mansion stands around before slowly also walking into the pond, you realize that it was probably never meant to make any sense. The barely explained series of mostly uninteresting events reeks of that most unholy of marriages – arty surrealism and trashy exploitation filmmaking.

So it is that we are treated to scenes as varied and nonsensical as Christina doing a rambling voiceover as she rides to the mansion where she earnestly notes how foreboding the countryside and vegetation is and a woman painting her toenails during an impromptu wake for a mansion resident who just died. Worse, when the film needs to deliver on the exploitation such as the sacrifice at the end of movie, it chickens out on that just like it did with showing Christina’s stepmom’s fate.

A film whose obtuseness owes more to a poor script than any pretensions of art, A Virgin Aming the Living Dead unfortunately peaks with its perfect grindhouse title and delightfully lurid poster.

© 2016 MonsterHunter

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