Christina (Christina von Blanc) arrives at a small coastal village from a boarding school in London to attend the will reading of her late father (whom she has never met and only seen in photos sent to her by her aunt and uncle). At the village inn, she is met by Basilio (Franco) who escorts her to the family villa where she meets Uncle Howard (Howard Vernon), Aunt Abigail (Rosa Palomar), and lovely Carmence (Britt Nichols). Despite some eccentric behavior from villa's "open" inhabitants, they are kind people towards Christina as she is welcomed. Following breakfast the following morning, Christina strolls the villa's grounds and meets a young man. Christina invites the young man inside the villa, and he is shooed away by Uncle Howard. The young man believed the villa was empty and always avoided it. In fact, Christina was told no one was living in the villa upon her arrival in the coastal town at the inn but she disputes the fact--her whole family lives there. She has been receiving letters.Jess Franco's quiet and poetic Christina, princesse de l'erotisme (1973) is notable for its "closed" characters at the villa, Linda (Linda Hastreiter), Anne Libert's character, a queen, and Paul Muller's character and for its final act. However, before describing Christina for what it is, here is a look at what it is not (or what others tried to make it), from Obsession: The Films of Jess Franco:
One [of] the most widely distributed of Franco's films, "Christina queen of sex" is also one of the most worked-over of his films. Originally a a nouvelle vague style horror film, it was first presented at Cannes Film Festival. When Robert de Nesle's Comptoir du Film Francais released it theatrically three years later, soft core inserts for the X market had been added [note: the Obsession authors date this film as 1971]. Of course, the new footage badly distorted Franco's original concept. Worse was still to come... In the early eighties Eurocine bought back the original copyright and hired director Jean Rollin to shoot several zombie scenes to replace the softcore footage. This version, which better fitted the sales title, Virgin Among the Living Dead, is the one now available on video in the U.S. and some European countries. An Italian distributor even released the film in an edited version mixing in one of Jean Rollin's vampire films as Exorcismo per una Vergine (the poster showed a drawing of Vincent Price in Diary of a Madman!).Image Entertainment, thankfully, released a region-one DVD of Christina under the title, A Virgin Among the Living Dead (the Amazon link also interestingly credits actors who do not appear in this version, such as Arno who was cast for De Nesle's erotic inserts (Obsession)). The version on Image's DVD appears to be Franco's original cut, as there is an absence of scenes as described above. Included are thirteen minutes of deleted scenes as an extra, most of which are obviously Rollin's work. This image is quintessential Rollin:De Nesle added sex to a Franco film, and Rollin added zombie footage, like corpses rising from the ground, in the eighties (did any influential zombie films appear after 1973?). Another interesting note, Christina's French-language credits from the Image DVD credit the film's composer and conductor, the legendary Bruno Nicolai, as having one other credit: special effects. According to Nicolai's IMDb entry, Nicolai has one hundred and nineteen "Musical Department" credits, ninety-five "Composer" credits, and one credit for "Special Effects" with Christina. Why not? His music for Christina is signature Nicolai, haunting and beautiful. Franco writes the character Christina as innocent and sheltered and von Blanc plays her that way, wide-eyed and curious. Christina's character bridges the "open" characters and the "closed" characters who populate the narrative. The "open" figures, such as Vernon's Howard, Franco's Basilio, and Nichols's Carmence, are eccentric but superficially harmless. These characters have darker sides but walk openly in the villa and with Christina. The "closed" characters of the narrative, such as Libert's and Muller's characters, hide in the shadows of the villa with little interaction with Christina (until the final act). These characters are very dark. One of the images that Franco repeats within Christina is this one of Christina ascending the stairs:There is also a small chapel on the villa's grounds, and it perhaps houses the darkest secret within Christina and also represents the films strongest theme: supposedly, according to an elderly man who has been perpetually waiting for the chapel to open, one may receive a special blessing from a Saint within. The chapel is not open to him. Christina does not enter the chapel but the villa is open to her: "open" and "closed," light and shadows, blessings and curses. A personal favorite in Franco's filmography.