I've recently had the opportunity to check out three US Blu-ray releases of varying degrees of weirdness. Intervision Picture Corp.'s Blu-ray release of Christina, Vinegar Syndrome's Blu-ray of Rudy Ray Moore's Dolemite, and Drafthouse Films' recent release of John S. Rad's Dangerous Men.
All three are definitely strange in their own way, but they are also oddly compelling. Check out the details below to find out why.
In all honesty, the only reason I was even a little bit curious about Christina, a film I'd never heard of before this release, was the fact that it starred Jewel Shepard. I know she's not exactly a household name, but she does appear in one of my favorite films, Dan O'Bannon's The Return of the Living Dead, and in all of the behind the scenes material I've seen of that film, Shepard seemed like kind of a pain in the ass. Not exactly the kind of actress I would've thought could carry a whole film, but here she is, a year before Living Dead as Christina, the titular woman about town, and what a strange little movie this is.
Christina Von Belle was the heroine of a series of erotic novels through the '70s and '80s, here brought to life by director Paco Lara in the form of Jewel Shepard. Christina was an heiress and one of the world's most popular supermodels – in the books – and wealthy beyond the need to do anything she didn't want to do. One day she is kidnapped by a terrorist organization bent on demonstrating the superiority of the female of the species through gymnastics, bikini wrestling, and lots of hot, nasty, Sapphic sex. You know, the usual.
As much as Christina is up for a bit of fun, she also wants to get back home, so she escapes and ends up being trailed by all and sundry as she seduces her way through Europe on a sensual adventure. She talks to whomever she pleases, she sexes whomever she pleases, and she does whatever she pleases, all the while wearing very little clothing and very rarely saying no.
Christina is a fun little movie with perhaps more plot than is necessary, but just enough to justify the lack of hardcore sex scenes. Jewel Shepard's performance mostly consists of pretending to be in ecstasy and running away, which is fine by me. Amusingly, her entire performance is dubbed in English, even though she is American, which lends a strange quality to the film. It was filmed in Europe, where shooting with synced sound was not common, so dubbing was required for all of the films, but the fact that she wasn't called to do her own is pretty funny.
In terms of where this fits into the catalogue of early '80s erotic travelogues, I'd probably go with the recently reviewed Felicity over Christina. Christina owes quite a bit to classics like Emmannuelle and The Story of O, but the execution is a bit lacking. I enjoyed it, but I suspect it'll be a while before I pull it back off the shelf.
Intervision Picture Corp's Blu-ray of Christina is, unusually, bare bones. However, the A/V presentation is definitely adequate, though it's not going to blow your socks off. The stereo audio track is clear and dialogue is easy to discern, there are no surround options, and the film doesn't really need any. There are no bonus features on the disc.