When EVIL Gets Tough, You Fight Back! “The New Kids” reviewed!


Loren McWilliams and his sister Abby were both proud of their illustrious military careered father as well as adoring him immensely. When the teenagers’ parents set off toward Washington D.C. to receive a commendation from the President after foiling a terrorist hostage situation, Loren and Abby felt like the luckiest kids alive, but that all quickly changed with a phone call, announcing a deadly accident that killed both their parents. Somber in disbelief, Loren and Abby decide to take up on an offer from their uncle Eddie and aunt Fay who own a gas station and a joint rinky-dink amusement park in Glenby, Florida in hopes to whet the appetites of thrill seeking tourist right before hitting the major league theme parks of Disney. Settling into a new school system is relatively easy for the siblings who’ve often been use to moving from location-to-location with their father in military service, but acclimating to the local drug pusher, Dutra, along with his entourage of subversive delinquents, has placed a target on their backs. A cat and mouse game over dominance ensues with an unreasonable Dutra unable to ever settle the score until his complete satisfaction in punishing the new kids in town has been sated, even if that means Loren and Abby, and those close to them, have to fight for their very lives.

“The New Kids,” aka “Striking Back,” is a horrifying suspense thriller from the original “Friday the 13th” director Sean S. Cunningham and penned by the father of Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal, Stephen Gyllenhaal, and “Visiting Hours” screenwriter, Brian Taggert. Instead of a lurking serial killer stalking and massacring half-naked and carefree camp counselor teens on a secluded camp ground, Cunningham tackles felonious teenagers wreaking havoc on popular outsiders treading on their drug turf, especially those who give a good fight back. “The New Kids” bombards every scene with caustic, no-good trouble and when push comes to shove, the only rational is to give the razor-edge scrap right back in a serrated do or die narrative.

Before the face of the collegiate admission scandal and before being the beloved onscreen mother to twins fathered by Uncle Jess on “Full House,” Lori Loughlin co-stars with Shannon Presby as on the defensive Abby and Loren. Presby slightly overshadows Loughlin as a stronger character or presence on screen. Loren continuously evolves through the storyline beginning as a well-rounded, cool-headed, optimistic son who recently lost his parents and then blossoms through bullying and violence as a mad dog protecting what’s his – family. Abby staggers quite precariously and never quite finds her footing in the grand scheme of things other than being a passive victim of Dutra and his gang. Even the contrast between Loren and Abby’s respective love interests is lopsided as Loren and his girlfriend (“Silent Madness’” Paige Price) dominate the dynamically in comparison to Abby and an underused and very youthful looking Eric Stotlz (“The Prophecy”). The real stud of “The New Kids” is a young, slim James Spader (“Wolf” and “The Blacklist”). Pure platinum blonde hair topping piercing eyes with a pinch of a Boston accent really brought out the villain in Spader in one of his very first feature films. Many other familiar faces in the cast, some familiar amongst horror fans, including John Philbin (“Return of the Living Dead”), the late Eddie Jones (“C.H.U.D.”), and the legendary Tom Atkins (“The Fog” and “Halloween III”) in a brief role. The remaining cast round out with Vince Grant, David MacDonald, Theron Montgomery, Lucy Martin, and Jean De Baer.

On the surface, “The New Kids” might seem polar opposite to Cunningham’s franchise birthing “Friday the 13th” series, but if looking with a keen eye, Cunningham has slapped and slathered his style all over the bullying barraging thriller. Techniques such as the camera focusing on feet that come out from hiding, the sudden appearance of people behind objects, and the menacing atmosphere of being watched are sensationalized characteristics of his camper slasher flick. Also, though the soundtrack is akin to the likes of Harry Manfredini, it was actually composed by the renowned Lalo Schilfrin who more than like was given precise instructions from Cunningham to compose a companion like score with a twist of a new kind of fear.

Mill Creek Entertainment presents Columbia Pictures’ “The New Kids” onto a Blu-ray home video with a widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The region A release on a BD25 has a well preserved transfer with little to no damaging issues and lots of good, wholesome natural grain speckling on the solid and wide range color palate. Even the darker scenes have pronounced definition so nothing is obscured from the viewer. The English language DTS-HD Master Audio track is quite robust with no sings of hissing or crackling during the entire 90 minute runtime. Even with Loren is whispering to Dutra in an intense claustrophobic and apprehensive scene, Loren is audible and understood, completing a dialogue friendly release with a, as aforementioned, a baleful score by Lalo Schilfrin. English SDH subtitles are also included. Unfortunately, there are no bonus features on this release; however, the retro style slipcover, where the VHS tape looks to be protruding from the VHS box, is a nice tough by Mill Creek Entertainment, especially with the faux wear around the edges and on the facade. For director Sean S. Cunningham, “The New Kids” steered clear of being a Voorhees repeat, but was certainly a recapitulation of Cunningham’s strong suits and with a strong, confident cast, “The New Kids” is sorely understated and overshadowed and I’m personally pleased that Mill Creek Entertainment delivered a Blu-ray release to the U.S. even if there are no bonus features.

The New Kids available at Amazon!

Comic Book Vigilante Takes on Evil! “Robot Ninja” review!


The television adapted bastardization of his beloved illustrated Robot Ninja leaves comic book artist Lenny Miller with a bad taste in his mouth. His disgust with the direction angers him to part ways with the project, leaving the televised rights in the hands of a careless and uninspired studio crews and execs, but that won’t stop Miller’s creative juggernaut of the captivatedly violent, robot vigilante. Inspiration takes heart-rending form when Miller happens upon a roadside abduction and rape of a young couple where his attempt at a rescue ends tragic with the couple being brutally murdered and him severely injured, but with the help of his good inventor friend, Dr. Goodnight, the frustrated comic-book artist becomes the Robot Ninja, just as depicted in his comics, with a vengeful plan to hunt down the assailants and put a bloody end to their wrongdoing reign of terror. A good first night out ends with one thug dead and an ego boost for Miller, but Robot Ninja’s actions don’t deterrent crime and, in fact, crime hits back hard when not only Robot Ninja becomes the target, but also his friend Dr. Goodnight and innocent bystanders.

“Robot Ninja” is part one of an unintentional two part review segment about directors disowning their own cinematic handy work for X, Y, or Z reasons and while “Robot Ninja” was initially discarded by “Dead Next Door” writer-director J.R. Bookwalter due to poor post production that was essentially out of the filmmaker’s hands and a work print negative thought to have been lost for eternity, Tempe Entertainment foresaw the awesome potential for the late 80’s automaton avenger in an dual format ultimate edition after a unearthed work print surfaced and back into the Bookwalter’s hand to mend and correct his sophomore feature film! Forget Iron Man. Ignore Captain America. Incredible Hulk who? “Robot Ninja” is one of the only true comic book heroes from illustrations to to take a stand against crime passionately and not because if you have great power, there’s great responsibility.

Robot Ninja is the epitome of the combo character that could sway into either hero from the 1980’s, like in Paul Verhoeven’s “Robocop” and Amir Shervan’s “Samurai Cop,” or could even swerve straight up into the villain category though I have no examples floating around near the inner layers of my cerebral cortex, but the Robot Ninja bordered the very blurry gray lines of anti-hero status whether intentionally or not from the perspective you examine. The Robot Ninja character potentially could have set fire to the combo character direct-to-video cult underworld, but fell rather hard and flat on its face in the deadfall of the netherworld instead. None of film’s flaws or woes never sat its hampering weight upon the goldilocks graced shoulders of Michael Todd, who portrayed the clawed hand titular character. Todd’s enthusiasm for the role is beyond necessary, a real A for effort, into powering on Lenny Miller’s illustrated crime combatant. Lenny, aka Robot Ninja, vows to destroy, or rather disembowel, the local gang led by the ruthless Gody Sanchez, a she-devil aimed to please only one person – herself. Maria Markovic, another actor that’s in J.R. Bookwalter’s “Dead Next Door” circle, find herself in the antagonistic role in one of her sole two credits. Markovic’s acting chops are about as stiff as a board, but being surrounded by the right kind of thugs in James Edwards (“Bloodletting”), Bill Morrison (“Ozone”), Jon Killough (“Skinned Alive”), Rodney Shields, and Michael ‘D.O.C.’ Porter, Gody Sanchez is able to achieve par-level black heartedness. “Robot Ninja” round-kicks an uppercut class of actors such as Floyd Ewing Jr., Michael Kemper, the original Dick Grayson Burt Ward (“Batman” television series), the one and only Linnea Quigley (“Return of the Living Dead”), one of Sam Raimi’s entourage buddies Scott Spiegel, and Bogdan Pecic and the good Dr. Goodnight.

Without doubt, “Robot Ninja” was destined for the direct-to-video market and the quality of work obviously shows, but with flaws aside, the obscure 79 minute feature still manages to be a part of Bookwalter’s “Dead Next Door” universe full of gore, violence, and a distain for human nature despite briefly disavowing “Robot Ninja’s” mucked up existence for years. Subtempeco EFX, comprised of David Lange, Bill Morrison, and Joe Contracer, don’t exactly go cheap when Robot Ninja’s dual blades pierce and pop eye balls inside the skull of some punk or when Lenny’s patching up his injuries without as much flinching in pain, the open, surely is infected wound just pulsates with exploded flesh and blood. Bookwalter’s direction is hazy at times around the beginning with the dynamic between Lenny and his publisher that feels stagnant and irrelevant; however, the comic book scenes interwoven into the meatiest part of the story, the Robot Ninja action, is remarkably cool for a late 80’s budget gas.

Tempe Entertainment have outdone themselves with the region free ultimate edition DVD and Blu-ray combos set of “Robot Ninja” with a “painstakingly” restored 2k film scan from the original 16mm A/B roll cut negative and presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio. The picture is night and day compared to previous VHS and DVD releases that underwhelm director J.R. Bookwalter’s vision. The vast color palette of various lighting and color schemes during the dream sequences have been gracefully corrected and the contrast has been restored to lighten up the much of the darker, almost unwatchable scenes. Good looking and unobtrusive natural grain from the 16mm stock and the re-edit makes a difference that finally seems cuts together without causing some confusion. The English language 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound is entirely new construction from Bookwalter and the lossless tracks have ample range and depth, balanced nicely throughout, and have little-to-no distortion or other imperfections. English and Spanish subtitles are also included. A slew of bonus material on both formats include audio commentaries from J.R. Bookwalter, Matthew Dilts-Williams of Phantom Pain Films, producer David DeCoteau, James L. Edwards, Scott Plummer, David Lange, David Barton, Doug Tilly and Moe Porne of The No-Budget Nightmare. J.R. Bookwalter also has a 21 minute segment about the whole start-to-finish journey with restoring “Robot Ninja,” a Linnea Quigley retrospect on her small role experience in the film, an interview with Scott Spiegel, a location tour with Benjamin Bookwalter, “The Robot Ninja” fan film from 2013 with introduction by director Johnny Dickie, artwork and promotional material, behind the scenes gallery, production stills, “Robot Ninja” unmasked featurette, rough cut outtakes, TV show promo, newscast outtakes, the original VHS release trailer, and Tempe trailers, plus much more. Lets not also forget to mention the stunning cover art by Alex Sarabia, Carol Chable, and David Lange and a new title sequence also by David Lange. Tempe Entertainment’s ultimate edition of “Robot Ninja” is a thing of beauty that should be seen by all who love campy, Sci-Fi horror flicks with grisly skirmishes and intense tragedy in every corner. The restoration work “Robot Ninja” is founded on absolute love, a rare concept seen for direct-to-video features so you know this film must be something special – a true redemption story.

Restored "Robot Ninja" on DVD!

Evil’s One Click Away! “Slasher.com” review!


A Missouri city is terrorized by a slippery psychopath who gratifyingly kills women after meeting them on an online dating service and chopping off a lock of their hair for his serial killer souvenir. During this reign of urban terror, Jack and Kristy decide to meet for the first time in the midst of all the chaos of online skepticism. Kristy’s elaborate first date idea involves driving out to an isolated cabin on the outskirts of the big city ran by Momma Myers and her eccentric family. After an eventful day and passionate night of exploring each other inside the dark cabin enclosure, Kristy and Jack find themselves in the malevolent grips of the rural area’s most delinquent and psychopathic residents who know the wooded landscape like the back of their blood soaked hands. Escaping a killer in the city was the easy part, but in the woods, no one can hear you scream, no signal can be transmitted, and there’s nowhere to run, but what comes about of Jack and Kristy takes a twisted turn of events that has transformed this secluded campground into a war zone.

“Slasher.com” assumes to exercise an excessive vat of survival slasher tropes by creating foreboding scenarios that are extremely obvious to keen horror eye. If you know your slashers, you know the drill. Missourian native director Chip Gubera’s has developed a half-serious, half-self-deprecating 2017 thriller co-written by fellow Missourian Chelsea Andes with her first feature script credit. The story starts off hot and steamy enough with the sounds of moan-and-groan lovemaking, but turns sour in a split second with a half naked victim becoming shish kabob. Great start so far. Proceeding goes into a montage about an anonymous online dating service homicidal psychopath who lures women to their ultimate demise and whacking off a piece of their hair for trophy. Here’s where things become little satirical. Main characters Kristy and John, knee deep in online terror dating and who know each other solely from their online conversations, hike up toward a deep-wooded cabin in a small podunk town and with a bit of overzealousness, the ease between them feels whole-heartedly unnatural and very uncomfortable, but makes for superb Cliffnotes version of the whole slasher genre mock up. You got your daft couple, you got your deranged campground establishments, and then you got your gratuitous nudity – what else could you ask for?

And who are these players Chip Gubera was able to sway to be in “Slasher.com?” First up, Ben Kaplan, relatively unknown, steps into the shoes of John, an organized, easy going good looking guy who you wouldn’t expect to be online dating and the same goes for Kristy, portrayed by a very beautiful Morgan Carter, also an unknown in her first and only credit. The two have a weird and robotic dynamic that’s hard to swallow, hard to accept, and hard to comprehend why they’re both seeking what’s behind the other end of the keyboard and computer monitor, but here they are casted into the lead roles. On the opposite end of the spectrum are a duo of veterans in the horror field and, as well, in the erotic genre. “Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III” and a few other notable horror sequels’ R.A. Milhailoff, a very large and threatening man, does have the killer presence and dwarfs a out of this world demented performance by the one and only Jewel Shepard as Momma Myers. The same Jewel Shepard from “Return of the Living Dead” and from the recently reviewed sex-tastic action film “Christina” and she’s so sleazy and so unbelievable rank that’s it’s truly scary. Rebecca Crowley, Delious Kennedy, and Adam Boster fill out of the support cast.

“Slasher.com,” from what you read earlier in this review, might seem like stiff drink with the same cobalt, down-the-hatch taste, but there’s a flick of the wrist in the finale that’s leaves Gubera’s film standing just slightly above the mediocre, low-budget melee and taser-charges the nuts of what could be a new breed of horror. Just out of reach and falling flat on it’s face is the quick rise and long hard fall for Chip Gubera’s “Slasher.com” who took a quirky, fly-by-the-seams slasher and contributed to it a brief glimpse of ambition that never reach full potential, but there were moments. Good moments that cleared the ugly scrap show up every so often; for example, the dead body pit, or the captivating needs of Momma Myers by the delectable Jewel Shepard, or even the final showdown between the Myers and John and Kristy.

Cinedigm and ITN Distribution release “Slasher.com,” also known as “S/ash.er,” onto DVD home video presented in widescreen with a poor English Stereo 2.0 track. The digital noise waves through nearly all scenes of the image, especially the ariel shots, and doesn’t sharply display the forest, but keeps the vague Myers dungeon in the shadow’s of it’s own shoddiness. Sleazo, that’s the creative moniker of the scorer, provides a synthesized track that’s horribly exploited because it is a fairly good soundtrack even if it’s only a one track, sorry trick, pony. There’s also no bonus features on the DVD, leaving only the feature to fight for itself, and with that omission of extras, with that poor quality, and with steep drop at the end, “Slasher.com” fails to take advantage of the sui generis story that needed to blossom.

Vestron Video Collection’s Blu-ray Return of the Living Dead 3 and C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud Shows Love for Sequels!

From Liongsgate Home Entertainment comes Vestron Video Collection’s Blu-ray releases of two sequels that needed some refreshing! “Return of the Living Dead 3” and “C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud” will see the light of Blu-ray day come November 22nd, instilling a 1080p campy fear into hearts of North American horror fans! Packed with extra content and a fresh coat a cover art paint, Lionsgate has resurrected (and remastered) the Vestron Video label from it’s burial ground in the 1980’s, re-delivering cult classic titles into super Hi-Def and redefining a label that made a name for pioneering B-movies such as the below.

C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud

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PRE-ORDER C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud at http://amzn.to/2cpUgyC for only $28!

OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS
Kevin, Steve, and Katie are an inseparable trio of friends doing some extracurricular snooping in the school science lab when, among the test tubes and beakers, they discover a corpse! But before they can say “Abra Cadaver,” the body disappears, rolling down Route 51 strapped to a gurney. The kids need a spare stiff, and fast. What they find is “Bud the Chud,” a half-dead decomposing humanoid, the result of a military experiment gone haywire. When Bud sets out on a killing spree, the kids, the Army, the police, and the FBI are hot on his trail, trying to save the entire town from becoming “Chudified!”

BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
• Audio Commentary with Director David Irving
• Interview with Actor Gerrit Graham
• Interview with Actress Tricia Leigh Fisher
• Interview with Special Effects Artist Allan Apone
• Still Gallery

Return of the Living Dead 3

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PRE-ORDER “RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 3” at http://amzn.to/2diuIRj for $28!

OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS
In Return of the Living Dead: Part II, the chemical Trioxin turned people into flesh-eating zombies. Now, the government is trying to control these unstoppable cannibalistic killers in Return of the Living Dead 3. When a young man uses the chemical to bring his girlfriend back to life after a motorcycle accident, she is driven to eat the only thing that will nourish her…human brains! She tries to stop her own feeding frenzy but a chain reaction has already begun, as hordes of undead are unleashed from their graves!

BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
• Audio Commentary with Director Brian Yuzna
• Audio Commentary with Actress Melinda Clarke and Special Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Rainone
• “Ashes to Ashes” – A Conversation with Director Brian Yuzna and Screenwriter John Penney
• “Living Dead Girl” – An Interview with Actress Melinda Clarke
• “Romeo Is Bleeding” – An Interview with Actor J. Trevor Edmond
• “Trimark & Trioxin” – Interviews with Production Excecutive David Tripet and Editor Chris Roth
• “The Resurrected Dead” – Interviews with Special Effects Designers Steve Johnson and Chris Nelson
• Still Gallery

A Playgirl Versus the Evils of Lesbian Cults and Snooty Thieves! “Christina” review!

The following review is NSFW

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Christina Von Belle is a youthful playgirl heiress who travels through the exotic locations of Europe modeling and making love to the men of the world. Her jet-setting life screeches to a full and sudden stop when a vicious and merciless faction of lesbian guerillas, led by their determined leader Rosa who seeks to inspire young women to live a life of liberated homosexuality, kidnaps Christina for a high dollar ransom because paying for the liberation cause is quite pricey. Christina will be put through multitudes of depravity seductions to pursue the heiress that woman does not need man. As the ecstasy of her captures becomes more and more difficult to defend against, Christina jumps into action, escaping when the chance presents itself, and finds herself leaping into the arms of smugglers and thieves who seek to also use Christina’s title for a wealthy pay out. Christina’s only weapon, her only means of freedom, is her young, sensual flesh that puts everybody, even lesbian commandoes and high society smugglers, under her sultry spell.

One of Francisco Lara Polop’s (under the moniker credit of Poco Lara) last known feature films and penned by the legendary schlock writer Harry Alan Towers (under the moniker credit of Peter Welbeck), “Christina” expos a mingling cast of B-movie stars and starlets such as “Return of the Living Dead’s” Jewel Shepard. Before Shepard was a blue-haired, punk-rocking goth chick ready to be munched on by brain eating zombies, the native New Yorker stripped bare as a promiscuous woman meandering quickly through hordes of wealth and a legion of similar status men. For much of Poco Lara’s film, Jewel Shepard is damn near naked the entire time, exposing her perky breasts whenever the opportunity presents itself. The same whip-it-out concept can be attributed for nearly the rest of the female cast: Josephine Jacqueline Jones (“Black Venus”), Pepita Full James (“The Story of O 2”), Helen Devon, and Anne-Marie Jensen. The male performer counterpart understandably lacks in comparison, but rounds out nicely with Ian Sera (Pieces), Emilio Linder (Monster Dog), Tony Isbert (Tragic Ceremony), and Emilian Redondo (Black Venus).
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Christina’s sexual adventures turned passionate plights purposefully lays the groundwork in attempting to pave a similar path toward the highly popular French series “Emmanuelle,” its sequential films, and it’s cheaply produced spin-offs which simply focused around the erotic escapades of a young woman seeking to enhance her sexual experience. Also akin to the “Emmanuelle” series is the fact that “Christina” is an adaptation from a series of sexually charged books printed by Playboy Press. Yet, “Christina” failed to peak interest in spawning sequel additions, despite the high production value that includes exotically breathtaking locations in France and Spain and also the impressive car, dirt bike, and horse chases. To further be pro-“Christina,” the gratuitous nudity explodes onto nearly every single scene with Jewel Shepard’s tight and slender physique causing most tongues to go limp from gawkers’ mouths, secreting saliva with hound dog anticipation for more.

Though prevalent nudity thrills, the sex scenes lack that certain special something. The longevity of the scenes seem as transient as the Christina character, leaving more of the sexual intercourse to the far reaches of the implied sector than trying to push the envelope. The lesbian moments with Josephine Jacqueline Jones and Helen Devon cut briskly away to a dream sequence where Christina faints from the intensity of her captor’s advances and in these dreams, she’s metaphorically assessing her experience with black glove cladded hands rolling cars and tanks around the curvatures of her breasts and teasing the pubic edges of her nether regions. Another dilution of “Christina” is the stunts. While I mentioned the chase sequences were a refreshing surprise for soft core erotica, the hand-to-hand combat nullifies that pleasantry. The lesbian mercenaries fight each other, literally ripping the clothes from their hard bodies, to award themselves the pleasure of guarding, and seducing, Christina while Christina fights her way to escape from their enlisted clutches; yet, the choreography is horrendously slow and bad, resulting in more of an awkward contest rather than a test of might. I will say that the actresses did, in fact, do their own stunt work.
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Intervision Picture Corp. and CAV Distribution release a region free, re-mastered Blu-ray edition of “Christina” in a spellbinding Hi-definition 1080p resolution. The widescreen 16×9 presentation only adds to the HD transfer without forcing to strain the image framing and clarity. Clearly more vivid than any of the film’s at-home distributed predecessors, Intervision Picture Corp.’s improvement bares ample of detail, pops the natural coloring, and balances the blacks amongst the original print damage from minor grain to centering scratches. A few times a grey-to-blue toned sepia interludes during more closeup scenes, but the vast exteriors of locations, and for most of the film as well, share in the wealth of the image upgrade. The Dolby Digital English 2.0 mix has varying levels that, at times, sporadically lower the dialogue which might have stemmed from misplaced mic setups. No hissing or pops detected, resulting in clear and spotless finish on the tracks that smooths out the dialogue and sports a rather snazzy synth Ted Scotto soundtrack, especially during more action packed moments. Finally, no extras are included with this release.
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Overall, a solid piece of lost skin-er-iffic treasure dug up for display by Intervision Picture Corp. Never in my lifetime would I have guessed that Casey from the “Return of the Living Dead” would be fully nude, nearly full time, in a unique sexploitation gem entitled simply “Christina.” The Poco Lara directed soft core film might be based off the popular sleaze reads and trashy sex novels of the same name, but ultimately “Christina” just couldn’t gain any steam powered momentum on film as it so rightfully did in bedroom fantasies, leaving the kinky-lust and the misadventures of our heroine permanently in black and white of its literature bound kin.

Want a part of Christina? Own the Blu-ray of this rare film! Purchase by clicking the Amazon link image above!