After losing her mother at an early age and being raised at a boarding school, Cristina Reiner is notified of her father's death and summoned to Monserrat Mansion for the reading of his will. Other members of her strange, ... more »accursed family are found there awaiting the imminent demise of Cristina's ailing stepmother, whom she has never met. When Death finally visits the castle in the person of an elegantly attired Queen of Darkness, Cristina is approached by the ghost of her father, who advises her to flee the castle and her cold-skinned, bloodthirsty relatives. But is it already too late? Find out if you dare in cult director Jess Franco's legendary cult classic, uncut in America for the first time!« less
"WARNING -- This is NOT, I repeat, NOT a Zombie movie. If anyone out there typed "Living Dead" into the Amazon search engine and come up with this little golden nugget Of Jess Franco weirdness, click the back button right now!
I know this movie has been re-titled "Zombie 4" and "Zombie 5" when intercut with footage from the 1980 film "Zombie Lake." But the "Living Dead" of the title refers to Vampires. The original title was "Cristina, Princess of Eroticism," but for some reason, they chose to mislead unsuspecting Zombie movie fans, as well as to reveal cause of the strange goings on we are meant to be wondering about.
I'm a great admirer of Jess Franco. I like to watch his movies, but unfortunately, it's impossible. Not only because he has made over 200 movies, and each one of them has about 5 different titles, but because the overwhelming majority of his films are crap. From what I read about Jess Franco, he would not argue with me on this particular point, because he allegedly believes ALL of his films are crap, whereas I actually like some of them.
The DVD has options to watch the film in its original language with English subtitles (which I didn't do, so I don't know what language that actually is, although I would assume it was French.) or dubbed in English. Most people probably think the preferred viewing option would be subtitles. As you can imagine, the dubbing is pretty atrocious, but there is a very specific reason why someone would want to watch the film this way. This film has been famous for several years (well, famous in a cult-like way) for being the source of many prominant and more lengthy samples on My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult's classic album, "Confessions of a Knife." Long time Thrill Kill Kult fans remember the eerie, "I hear her...she's calling me tonight.." and of course, "I'm blind, but I can see the color of souls, and yours is white," which is still used in their live show today. We've sought after it for years, and it's finally available on DVD! Although, sadly, my fellow TKK fans, the now legendary, "I'm gonna find her! And I'm gonna kill her!" sample is NOT in this film, but if you found that, don't you think you'd only end up disappointed?
Cristina is traveling to visit her extended family in a mansion, and everyone tells her not to go there, because no one lives there. Unless you blocked out the title of the movie, you can probably guess why they think this, even after Cristina arrives, and meets her family members. This movie doesn't have a lot of gore, but plenty of nudity, and general Jess Franco weirdness. The people who live in the house, and some who just hang around for no apparent reason, like to come into Cristina's room while she's sleeping. This never stops her from sleeping naked above her sheets, however, and if it did, it wouldn't be much of a Jess Franco movie.
One such person is Linda, a blind woman who says she wants to help Cristina, although it is never really explained how or why. One morning, Cristina wakes, naked of course, to find a big black dildo on her floor. When she flings it away, Linda says, "Oh, no, you've shattered the great ebony phallus! You are now doomed to eternal misery!" I haven't exactly figured out how Linda knew that Cristina shattered the great ebony phallus, since she is blind. But, since it is never mentioned again, I have to assume one of two things: 1) Linda knew Cristina was doomed to eternal misery anyway, in a mansion with the living dead, and shattering the phallus had nothing to do with it. She just put it there because she knows that a girl who sleeps naked when strangers keep coming into her room might find it useful or 2) Jess Franco wanted to shoot a scene with a naked girl sitting in front of a big black dildo, and wrote in Linda's line in a failed attempt to incorporate it into the plot.
Did I say, "plot"? I didn't mean to. Don't watch this expecting a story to unfold. Like most of his best films, it's a lot of weirdness and very little story. But if you're interested in Jess Franco enough to have looked this up, I would recommend it. It's also a must-see for Thrill Kill Kult fans."
One of Jess' Best
Jonathan Schaper | London, Ontario Canada | 02/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Franco's 150+ films can be divided into two types: crude, deritive films he quickly cranked out in order to maintain an income, and those into which he poured his heart and soul. The fact that most of his films fell into the former category, that he had low budgets and short filming periods, his films are often poorly translated, and ill-advised cuts were often created by his american distributors, has led to an underappreciation of Franco's skills. Although most of his films deserve all the criticism they receive, this disk should help lead to a reevaluation of Franco.This film, despite the unfortunate title imposed upon it by the producers, is one of Franco's better films, although those looking for a horror film or one of Franco's more fun-filled movies, such as The Girl From Rio, will likely be disappointed.After the death of his favourite star, Soledad Miranda, in a tragic accident, Franco spent about a year cranking out lousy films in order to quickly fulfill his contractual obligations with a German distributor. Afterwards, he created this film which is a very personal, poetic, surreal and melancholy rumination upon death, most likely inspired by Soledad's death. One of the themes touched upon is how death is especially tragic when it happens to someone who is young and innocent.Attempting to describe the plot only does this film injustice. Without conveying the film's actual mood created through image, music, and acting, the story sounds absurd and simplistic. Fortunately, Image has for the first time released Franco's true vision of the film. As another reviewer notes, you should watch this in the original language. Previously the dozens of different cuts available in the american market were bastardized versions with inserts created by different directors. Some of these schlocky inserts are included on the disk as an extra, including some by Jean Rollin (from whom I would have expected much better)."
Cool 70s supernatural film!
Bob Ashley | texas | 04/22/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Remember those supernatural gothic films of the 70s?Here's a good one from the legendary Jess Franco.Gratuitous nudity and an oft-times muddled plot temporarily take points away from this poetic,atmospheric meditation on life and death.Gosh,I miss the atmosphere those 70s gothics generated so well.A beautiful woman goes to visit family that live in a dark mansion that seems to drift in a netherworld and it all leads to an ulra-creepy ending.
Forget about the zombies,people.The title was coined to make the film appealing to fans of zombie films.This is still a brilliant film,though."
Great NOT ZOMBIE movie
Francesco Cesari | Venezia, VE Italy | 04/15/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of best Franco's films: a poetical, surrealist, oneiric and tragical tale of an orphan girl who so much absorbs people's sorrow that she becomes insane and dies.
However, my review's aim is to make clear some mistakes: 1) it is NOT a zombie-film: the zombie-scenes are included in the dvd only as extras and have been shot by Rollin. So, if you are zombie-fans, avoid this film. 2) The original title was obviously different: A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD is only the producer's title. 3) Avoid the English soundtrack, because the dubbing is bad and the music, which in the original version is very beautiful, is totally different. The French soundtrack (with English subtitles) is absolutely great. 4) The film isn't uncut because when producers added the awful zombie or erotic scenes (which are not included in this dvd) they cut off other sequences or footage, which unfortunately haven't yet been recovered. Nevertheless this is one of the most personal Franco's film. It was shot for Cannes Festival, but its destiny was to be spoilt by producers, in order to sell it in the B-cinema-halls."
Fun With Franco
Megan DiSantis | Chicago, IL | 03/12/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Anyone who likes Franco or who is curious about a Franco movie should enjoy this one---typically weird, er, insane characters in a sleazy setting. Not exactly horrifying, but gratifying with its black humor, e.g. Franco's and Vernon's characters, and its creepy story of a woman sucked into insanity."