Jewel Shepard is best known to hor­ror fans for her wit­ty work as one of the ill-fat­ed pun­kettes in the clas­sic Return Of The Living Dead.  That said, her bread and but­ter dur­ing her prime as a b-movie star­let was a series of soft­core and sex com­e­dy flicks that became pay cable sta­ples dur­ing the mid-to-late ‘80s: My Tutor, the two Hollywood Hot Tubs films, Party Camp, etc.  The wildest and sex­i­est film to emerge from this pack has to be Christina, a fun lit­tle soft­core trav­el­ogue that embod­ies the dis­tinct­ly ‘80s charm of pay cable-era sex­ploita­tion flicks.

Chrstna-bluChristina takes its basis from a string of erotic nov­els that were pop­u­lar in the ‘70s and ‘80s.  The title char­ac­ter, played with clothes-free aban­don by Shepard, is the jet-set­ting heiress to a pub­lish­ing empire.  As the first act illus­trates, she’s a glee­ful hedo­nist who spends her time par­ty­ing her way through the dis­cos and boudoirs of Europe.

However, her for­tunes take a turn when she’s kid­napped from a swing­ing week­end with play­boy Patrick (Ian Sera) and finds her­self impris­oned by a gang of sap­ph­ic ter­ror­ists led by Rosa (Karin Schubert).  As she tries to fig­ure her way out, her attempts lead to a series of chas­es, ran­soms, res­cues, peri­od­ic soft­core sex sce­nes and near-con­stant gra­tu­itous nudi­ty.

Christina was pro­duced by Harry Alan Towers, an infa­mous fig­ure in European exploita­tion film­mak­ing, who also penned the script under his fre­quent pseu­do­nym of “Peter Welbeck.”  His sce­nar­io is glee­ful­ly pulpy, com­plete with campy dia­logue, plot­ting and char­ac­ter­i­za­tions that nev­er even try to be seri­ous, but it con­vinc­ing­ly recre­ates the nar­ra­tive style of a trashy sex paper­back.  The open­ing scene sets the tone: Christina boo­gies down in a dis­co wear­ing a jack­et but no shirt so her breasts can jig­gle freely to the Europop groove.  It’s a com­plete­ly implau­si­ble fan­ta­sy of jet-set life, fil­tered through Tower’s dirty old man sen­si­bil­i­ty, and it imme­di­ate­ly clues you in to the film’s style.

Director Francisco Lara Polop, work­ing under the name “Paco Lara,” plays along with Tower’s take on sex­ploita­tion nice­ly.  He gives the film the kind of glossy, soft focus approach to sex com­mon to pay-cable sex flicks of the era and makes effec­tive use of Spanish and French loca­tions to cre­ate a nice lev­el of pro­duc­tion val­ue for the skin­ca­pades.  He also works in more action than usu­al, includ­ing some decent motor­cy­cle and car chas­es Chrstna-01(how­ev­er, a cou­ple of ridicu­lous­ly staged cat­fights add to the film’s camp val­ue).  Allejandro Ulloa’s cin­e­matog­ra­phy lends the right glossy touch and the sax-and-synths Eurodisco score by Ted Scotto will make ‘80s addicts grin.

Christina also boasts a fun cast for this kind of film.  Shepard digs into her libidi­nous role with aban­don, spend­ing much of her time top­less or naked and giv­ing all in the some­times sur­pris­ing­ly explic­it soft­core sex sce­nes.  She doesn’t get to show the light com­e­dy chops she dis­played in her oth­er films of this era but she fits the bill of sexbomb effec­tive­ly here.  Elsewhere, Eurotrash fans will be amused by Pieces alum Ian Sera ham­ming it up as a play­boy, Schubert devour­ing the scenery as a lusty queen bee and Josephine Jacqueline Jones, star of Towers sex­ploita­tion epic Black Venus, play­ing a would-be seduc­er of the hero­ine.

In short, Christina is glossy trash that plays like an ‘80s sex­ploita­tion time cap­sule today — and that will give it an irre­sistable appeal for any­one who expe­ri­enced their teen years dur­ing the Skinemax era.

Blu-Ray Notes: Severin just gave this title is U.S. high-def debut via a new disc from its InterVision Pictures Corp. sub­la­bel.  The results are the best this title has ever looked on home video in this coun­try, with a trans­fer that offers rich col­ors and brings out a nice lev­el of tex­ture unimag­in­able in past cable and VHS ver­sions.  The LPCM treat­ment of the English stereo dub does well by the cheap vin­tage dub­bing work.  There are no extras.