Foreign Film February: A Virgin Among the Living Dead (1973)

a virgin among the living dead poster

Jesús Franco was a prolific Spanish filmmaker who dabbled in a lot of genres (including hardcore pornography) but is mostly known as a horror director. He’s one of those guys whose name I’ve heard for years, but that I’d never gotten around to watching.

A Virgin Among the Living Dead is what you might call an erotic horror film with a gothic setting, a dreamlike plot, beautiful visuals, and, yet, lots of naked flesh. It is also pretty good.

It focuses on Christine (Christina von Blanc) a young woman whose mother died when she was very young. As a child, her father sent her away to boarding schools where she stayed, even through holidays, so that she doesn’t even really know who her father is. But when she’s notified that he has died she returns to his home in a small village.

Almost immediately we know things are strange because when she arrives in the village and informs some townspeople that she will be staying at her father’s manor, she’s told that no one has lived there for some time. But Christie just knows she has other family members living there. When she arrives she is greeted by her relatives, an odd bunch one and all (including the director himself as a drooling, sniveling mute).

As the title implies, and you’ll probably figure out pretty quickly, these relatives aren’t exactly what they at first seem to be. They might be the living dead, or they might be some manifestation of her deranged psyche. It all gets pretty weird and pretty confusing, but Franco imbues it with enough beautiful imagery that you won’t mind, at least I didn’t.

It isn’t quite good, but it is definitely not boring and it for sure made me want to watch some more films from the director.

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