CHRISTINA (1984) Blu-ray
Director: Francisco Lara Polop
Intervision Picture Corp.

Severin Films brings the first of a handful of their Private Screenings line to Blu-ray on their Intervision sublabel with the Spanish-lensed late night TV favorite CHRISTINA.

Jetsetter, tabloid darling, and publishing empire heiress Christina Von Belle (Jewel Shepard, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD) hops the globe in search of men and fast cars. In the South of France, she reconnects with race car driver Patrick (Ian Sera, PIECES) who brings her back to his seaside villa for a foursome with oil heir Max (Tony Isbert, THE DRACULA SAGA), French actress Brigitte (Pepita Full James, THE STORY OF O 2). Not one to let an attempted abduction by the 10th of November sect spoil her fun, Christina goes bottomless riding along the beach the next day only to be betrayed by Patrick's valet (Emiliano Redondo, THE PEOPLE WHO OWN THE DARK) and whisked off to an island by the sadistic Rosa (Karin Schubert, EMANUELLE AROUND THE WORLD) and her band of fighting female liberators ("Don't you think this is a little extreme, men do have their uses," Christina quips). Slipping into blackout fantasies where she equates lesbian groping with having toy cars run all over her body, Christina tries to seduce her captors – including Miss Bahamas 1979 Josephine Jacqueline Jones (showcased to better effect in BLACK VENUS) – into effecting her escape, but she ends up swimming into the clutches of smugglers lead by Alain (Emilio Linder, SLUGS) who wants her body as much as her father's money.

Ostensibly adapted from the first in a series of roughly fifty Berkeley paperback novels by Blakely St. James – actually Robin Leonard, Charles Plat (THE SILICON MAN), Ted Gottfried, William E Butterworth (SUSAN AND HER CLASSIC CONVERTIBLE), and Hart Williams with covers photographed by Playboy's Dwight Hooker featuring 1975 Playmate Jill De Vries – that chart the erotic adventures of a comely jet-setter, CHRISTINA was one of a handful of softcore 1980s productions made in Europe by producer Harry Alan Towers (99 WOMEN) – scripting as Peter Welbeck – for the Playboy channel that also included LOVE CIRCLES, BLACK VENUS, and LADY LIBERTINE. Handsomely lensed by Alejandro Ulloa (NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF) in Spain and France among modern seaside villas and picturesque ruins, the film nevertheless drags once the novelty of seeing an undraped Shepard from every angle and close-up (thankfully sharper than the diffused wider shots) wears off. Director Francisco Lara Polop had served as assistant director, production manager, and producer on films like Eloy de la Iglesia's THE GLASS CEILING and the Paul Naschy flicks COUNT DRACULA'S GREAT LOVE and THE HUNCHBACK OF THE MORGUE, making his debut as a director with the late night favorite MURDER MANSION; however, after the death of dictator Franco and the easing of censorship restrictions, the jobbing director was reduced like some of his other countrymen to helming softcore erotica of increasing explicitude. CHRISTINA was Polop's second-to-last film as a director (the last being an erotic adaptation of THE MONK) although he did produce Jose Ramon Larraz's THE EDGE OF THE AXE. Spanish producer Andrés Vicente Gómez moved on to loftier projects with Álex de la Iglesia (PERDITA DURANGO), Bigas Luna (GOLDEN BALLS), Fernando Trueba (BELLE EPOQUE), Gonzalo Suárez (ROWING WITH THE WIND), and Pedro Almodóvar (MATADOR).

Released directly to cable television stateside in 1985, the film somehow eluded VHS, coming to DVD first through Severin's own Private Screenings sub-label in 2006 utilizing the existing fullscreen tape master. Intervision's 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.78:1 widescreen transfer has colors that pop and the image is sharper than before, but the degree of soft-focus and diffusion in Ulloa's photography does not lend itself to a crisp image. More evident thanks to the enhanced resolution are faint scratches, creases, and stains in the film element along with some possible sprocket damage on the left side of the frame during a few scenes. The LPCM 2.0 mono track has a bit more life when it comes to the disco score. There are no extras. (Eric Cotenas)