Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 11th, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: West Germany, December 10th, 1971
Director: Jesus Franco
Writer: Jesus Franco
Cast: Soledad Miranda, Fred Williams, Paul Muller, Howard Vernon, Ewa Strömberg, Horst Tappert, Jesus Franco
BluRay released: May 12th, 2015
Approximate running time: 82 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: LPCM Mono German
BluRay Release: Severin Films
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $34.99
Synopsis: Dr. Johnson has been conducting experiments human embryos. He approaches the medical board with his findings. When they reject all of his work he falls into a deep depression before he finally takes his own life. Devastated his wife concocts a plan to avenge the demise of her husband. She seduces all the members of the medical board as they all fall into her web of sweet revenge.
There are two things that clearly inspired She Killed in Ecstasy and actually a third connection to something else if one factors in that the film is a loose remake of Jess Franco’s own film The Diabolical Dr. Z. With the other two inspirations being Franco’s fondness monster / mad scientist type films and last but most definitely not least, there is a more then passing similarity between She Killed in Ecstasy and François Truffaut’s The Bride Wore Black.
Structurally this film’s narrative is more fleshed out then the other films that Franco was making during this phase of his career. The premise is simple the protagonist stalks and kills those who drove her husband to kill himself. And after a brief set up things from there on until the finale move along at a brisk pace. Also another strength of this film is that all of the main players and their motivations well defined?
In other areas of this film there a satisfying mix of carnage and eroticism. With the scenes that shine the most in this regard being the well-executed death scenes, most notably a scene Howard Vernon’s character gets stabbed over a dozen times in his genitals.
From a performance stand point the world once again revolves around Soledad Miranda whose captivating performance finds that ever so perfect balanced between alluring seductress and an angel of death that exacts their vengeance on those who have down them wrong. With the moment where her character reflects on what she has done half naked on her couch being her defining moment as an actress.
Several cast members from Vampyros Lesbos return for She Killed in Ecstasy, albeit in different roles. With this time around the casts functionality beyond Miranda’s performance are basically mere props that Franco exploits as the right moment. Unfortunately the performance that leaves the most to be desired is Fred Williams in the role of Soledad’s husband who has taken his own life after his life’s work has been rejected by colleagues. His emotionless performance makes its difficult to car for his plight.
On the other hand the other three main performances are great in their respective roles as they just sit back and let Miranda’s character savagely inflict pain on them. Also there is a scene that is oddly reminiscent of moment from Vampyros Lesbos in this film. And in this scene Franco’s character becomes the victim as Miranda’s character slowly tortures him while he sits in a chair.
Another wonderful asset that this film has is its Jazz infused score that was composed by Manfred Hübler and Sigi Schwab. There album Psychedelic Dance Party and Sexadelic would serve as the soundtrack for these three Franco films, She killed in Ecstasy, The Devil Came from Akasava and Vampyros Lesbos.
Shoot back to back with Vampyros Lesbos, there is an immediacy to the events which unfold in She Killed in Ecstasy. Unfortunately Franco and Miranda would only go onto make one more film together The Devil Came from Akasava. She would die tragically in a car crash shortly thereafter. Ultimately She Killed in Ecstasy is an extraordinary film that makes a perfect companion piece to Vampyros Lesbos.
She Killed in Ecstasy comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. This is another solid Hi-Def make over from Severin Films that trumps all previous home video releases for this film. Color look accurate and have never look as vibrant as then now do for this transfer. Other areas of improvement include image clarity, shadow detail, black and contrast levels. Also there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in German and English subtitles have been included with this release. Once again there has been extensive work done with the audio as dialog is always clear, everything sounds balanced and robust when its needs too. With that being said, outside of some very minor instances of background hiss. There is a minor instance around the fifty minute mark where the audio for a moment sounds ever so slightly distorted / off. Range wise things once again far exceed expectations, with the film’s delirious score greatly benefiting from this new audio mix.
Extras for this release include, a German language trailer for the film (2 minutes 37 seconds), a featurette titled Sublime Soledad with Soledad Miranda historian Amy Brown (20 minutes 22 seconds – 1080 progressive widescreen), author Stephen Thrower discusses She Killed in Ecstasy (13 minutes 7 seconds – 1080 progressive widescreen), an interview with actor Paul Muller (6 minutes 32 seconds) and an interview with Jess Franco titled Jess Killed in Ecstasy’(16 minutes 56 seconds – 1080 progressive widescreen, in English with optional English subtitles).
The featurette titled Sublime Soledad is a well-rounded overview of Soledad Miranda’s career.
Topics discussed in the interview with Stephen Thrower include, how Jess Franco picked up the pace by 1970 as a filmmaker and how he completed as many as twelve in one year, he mentions the similarities in this film to another Jess Franco film, Soledad Miranda, the cast and his thoughts on the final product.
The interview with Paul Muller is more a remembrance of the eight films that he made with Jess Franco and there are plenty of anecdotes about working with Jess Franco, most notably how during a love making scene where Franco from across the room screamed that he wanted from his actors and Muller was obliged to continue kissing his lovely costar.
Topics discussed in the interview with Jess Franco include, how this project came about so quickly, the origins of the plot, locations featured in the film, how this film differs in tone from Vampyros Lesbos, the cast and how he didn’t like Fred Williams performance, he also suggests that maybe someone like Klaus Kinski would have been better for the role, Soledad Miranda and her death.
Also included with this release is a CD titled 3 Films by Jess Franco which contains twenty four tracks of music from these three Franco films, Vampyros Lesbos, She Killed in Ecstasy and The Devil Came from Akasava.
And not to be overlooked is how this new release is almost three minutes longer the all previous releases, expect a German Blu-Ray release from 2014. Overall She Killed in Ecstasy gets a excellent release from Severin Films, highly recommended.
Note: Severin Films are also releasing this film on DVD.