Friday, October 14, 2016

Night of the Shooting Stars: Countdown to Halloween (Day 14)

At the death of her father, the English girl Christina is summoned to a small village in British Honduras for the opening of the will. Christina arrives at the family home to meet her peculiar aunts and uncles. Her nights at the secluded mansion are soon filled with ghosts, unexplained supernatural occurrences and strange manifestations.
But are the girl's experiences reality or bizarre nightmare? Christina plunges deeper into the unknown as her family's darkest secrets engulf her in a whirlpool of undead horror.

Poor Jesus Franco.

The Spanish director famous for his sexploitation horror films had the hardest time with creative control.  In fact, it’s not clear the man was able to maintain much control over what his films were titled, let alone the full content of them when they finally reached playhouses.

Take “A Virgin Among The Living Dead” for example.  Franco’s working title when he shot it in 1971 was “The Night of the Shooting Stars”—an elegant and imaginative title.  But what was released in French theatres in 1973 was “Christina, Princess of Eroticism”, and, later, in 1978 Italy as “The Erotic Dreams of Christine”.  And both versions of the film had porn footage inserted featuring Alice Arno shot by someone other than Franco.

For it’s 1981 rerelease, Producer Marius Lesoeur had Jean Rollin direct new zombie footage to insert and retitled it “A Virgin Among the Living Dead”.  At this time, the English dub was recorded and the porn footage was removed (had to sterilize it for Regan’s America) and it was released on VHS here in the states by Wizard Video as directed by (get this) Jess Frank.  

And, of course, true to it’s original release, the VHS I had to review was this mauled, mangled amalgamation that didn’t quite make sense, regardless of how interesting it was.

Now, I was pretty sure I had seen this one before.  If so, I’d seen the restored version that was released years later on DVD, so not really this film.  The story sounded familiar, and the layout of it is there and the surreality of it is fairly well preserved, but the two zombie sequences seem forced and out of context.  And it’s clear that anytime something naughty is about to go down, the erotic-removers have done their job well.

Sadly, the box is the most erotic thing about this cut of the film.  And look at that box—just like this cut of the film itself it is a strange amalgamation featuring Marvel Comics Simon Garth (he's the muscle-bound hippie zombie with the nifty medallion)—The Marvel Zombie!  It’s a shame he doesn’t show up in the movie.  It would’ve been an interesting twist.

Disappointment strikes the VHS reviews here at The Goods yet again.

My Grade: “C+”

May this VHS tape get stuck in an off-brand VCR and remain trapped in that metal box like corpse in the cold of the grave forevermore.

No comments: