original title: La Morte Vivante
aka: Lady Dracula, Scare – Dead or Alive?, Zombie Queen
Director: Jean Rollin
Starring: Marina Pierro, Francoise Bianchard, Mike Marshall, Carina Barone, Fanny Magier
Toxic waste is accidentally spilled on the grown where the deceased body of Catherine Valmont is resting and the toxic is making Catherine come back to life. Although she is now alive again, something has changed about her and she herself is not sure what she has become.
Her instincts tell her to seek out her childhood friend Helene to get help. It also becomes clear to her that in order to stay alive, she has to drink the blood of other humans. Helene can’t deny her beloved friend help, so together they become a danger to anyone living nearby them, although the horrific acts is bound to also put them in danger.
Although mostly known for doing erotic vampire films, cult director also dabbled within the zombie subgenre of horror and The Living Dead Girl is one of these films. It is not your typical zombie film however since this deal with the tragic and doomed friendship and love between Helene and Catherine. What would anyone do if their best friend did return from the other side? Would anyone really turn their back against them or would they rather try to do whatever they can for them, even if it would involve supplying other humans as food to them?
Instead of presenting his zombie as a rotting corpse, Rollin presents Catherine in all her glory as a beautiful lady looking more like a vampire than a zombie. While that might be original, the rest of the film can be said to be very typical of Rollin in that it features plenty of naked female bodies, a bit of lesbianism, a gothic setting, great visuals and a story that isn’t very fleshed out.
I’m not sure how to describe Rollin’s style, but he has a way of making a slow movie not feel very slow. It goes quietly along from scene to scene, but it doesn’t become boring or leave you wondering if anything is soon about to happen. I guess the beautiful visual look (and females) of his films are able to keep our attention on the screen even when nothing is really going on. This one is also quite violent, with more gore than his normal erotic vampire films. It’s not the best gore in the world and it can look a bit cheap if you watch it on a decent DVD or Blu-Ray, but back on VHS it looked very graphic and shocking.
The two main actresses, Marina Pierro and Francoise Bianchard, are both gorgeous to look at. Blanchard, who plays Catherine is able to make her character very animalistic but yet have a human touch to her. Her relationship with Pierro’s character Helene is very sweet and tender. Pierro is also a beauty, a sort of mixture between a young Madonna and Asia Argento. It’s interesting how Helene becomes more and more violent while Catherine gets more and more tired of being what she is. Perhaps Rollin had more to say than people give him credit for.
The Living Dead Girl is one of the best Jean Rollin movies I’ve seen so far, although it should be noted that I am not that knowledgable of his films so far. It’s very stylish, sweet, sexy and bloody gory. Perhaps not the most interesting film for the younger modern crowd, but for those with an affection for the 70’s and early 80’s euro sleaze/trash movies this should be a film to add to their collection.