21st Nov2015

‘She Killed in Ecstasy’ Blu-ray Review

by Phil Wheat

Severin Films make their return to the UK home video market with the Blu-ray release of two Jess Franco films in their library, She Killed in Ecstasy and Vampyros Lesbos – erotically charged Euro-horrors starring Franco fave Soledad Miranda which mark the pinnacle of Franco’s career. The former, a revenge thriller, is considered the best of the 200-odd films the Spanish auteur has made, whilst the latter is a crowd-pleasing slice of sleaze (who doesn’t love lesbian vampires) that is also an oddly-faithful adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula.

She Killed In Ecstasy

Stars: Soledad Miranda, Fred Williams, Paul Muller, Howard Vernon, Ewa Strömberg, Horst Tappert | Written and Directed by Jess Franco

skie-cast

She Killed In Ecstasy tells the story of Mrs. Johnson (Miranda), the widow of a young doctor (Williams) who kills himself after a medical committee terminates his research into human embryos, considering it too inhumane. She seeks revenge on those who drove her husband to his death by luring each member of the committee into compromising (OK, sexy) situations and then killing them one by one.

Overwrought, melodramatic. Just two words that could be used to describe She Killed in Ecstasy. For Franco’s movie is a slice of Euro-cheese that, honestly, could only ever be directed by Jess Franco. The sheer madness of the film – not just the crazy plot but the odd characters, the gloriously overt sexuality (Franco loves to play with that zoom lens when naked women are around), and a soundtrack that is hypnotic in its repetitiveness – just screams the work of this much-maligned auteur.

But whilst Franco’s reliance of overwrought melodramatic would hamper a lot of his other productions, here it doesn’t… It is overcome thanks to the central performance of Soledad Miranda, who gives her all to her revenge-seeking-wife role. She becomes Mrs. Johnson – the distraught widow – and after watching her at work, it’s clear there was nothing the actress would not do in the pursuit of perfection. She raised the game for Jess Franco in ways many of his other regulars performers could not. Such a shame then that she would not live to see the release of this movie.

In a fair cinematic world, Soledad Miranda’s character should be held up to the same acclaim as Camille Keaton’s role in Meir Zarchi’s I Spit on Your Grave. For Mrs. Johnson’s revenge is just as vicious, just as cunning as Jennifer’s – though I’ve no doubt the sexuality of Soledad Miranda, and her characters propensity to get her kit off every other minute is the reason it isn’t. Well that and this is a Jess Franco film – woe betide anyone who would dare to praise Franco’s work (note the sarcasm).
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Picture quality on both discs is amazing considering not only the age of the films, but the throwaway nature in which many of Jess Franco’s movies were made. Both Vampyros Lesbos and She Killed in Ecstasy are presented in fully restored, fully uncensored versions – even if that means some of the inserted footage (especially in She Killed in Ecstasy) is of a lesser quality, both in terms of image and audio, but in exchange for having uncut versions of both films? I can live with that. Besides, for the most part, both films have crisp, colourful prints and feature minimal amounts of excessive grain – grain which only really becomes noticeable during the aforementioned inserted scenes – but otherwise both titles look stunning in HD.

This Blu-ray from Severin is packed with special features, including interviews with Jess Franco himself, one of the stars of She Killed in Ecstasy – Paul Muller, interviews with Franco experts Amy Brown (Soledad Miranda historian) and Stephen Thrower (author of Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema Of Jess Franco) and the German trailer for the film.

She Killed in Ecstasy is released in the UK on Blu-ray and DVD on November 30th from Severin Films.

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