Sunday, May 31, 2015

SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY (1970)


SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY (1970) 

Special Limited Edition 2-Disc Collector's Edition Blu-ray 


Label: Severin Films 
Region Code: Region FREE
Duration: 80 Minutes
Rating: Unrated
Audio: German PCM 2.0 Mono with Optional English Subtitles
Video: HD Widescreen (1.66:1) 
Director: Jess Franco
Cast: Jess Franco, Fred Williams, Paul Muller, Ewa Stromberg, Horst Tappert, Howard Vernon

Dr. Johnson (Fred Williams) is a scientist bent performing illicit experiments on human embryos for the benefit if mankind, or some such crock o' shit. However, when his research comes up for review by his peers he is discredited by a shocked and unsympathetic medical board who frown upon such things. Despite the fact that the doc has a gorgeous home on a private island and a stunning and devoted wife (Soledad Miranda, Vampyros Lesbos) he is so distraught by his fall from grace that he opts to slash his wrists and end it all. In the aftermath his supernaturally hot wife sets about to seducing and murdering each of the four members of the medical board, whom she blames for the death of her beloved husband. 

A very simple premise and to be honest there's just not much more to it. The murderous seductress sets out to seduce each of the board members, three men and one woman among them. It's a fun cycle of seduction and murder from start to finish. The four doctors are Dr. Crawford (Ewa Strömberg, Vampyros Lesbos), Dr. Houston (Paul Muller, Barbed Wire Dolls), Dr. Walker (Howard Vernon, The Awful Dr. Orloff) and Dr. Donen (played by director Jesus Franco). Howard Vernon's character has the most gruesome death scene with Miranda shredding Dr. Orloff's wedding tackle. 

There's not a lot to the story, very simplistic but what sells the movie for me is the stunning beauty of star Soldedad Miranda. Her turn as the murderous widow is so mesmerizing, there's very little dialogue but her eyes have a seductive sadness about them. Of course, this was the swinging 70's but even I thought that the ease of which she seduces each of the doctors is sort of funny. You'd expect that after the first corpse turned with a note indication that the other were are next they would be a heightened sense of self preservation among these highly educated professionals but never underestimate the draw of a naked woman,just thinking about it myself I might set aside my own fear of death for a chance to score with Soledad Miranda to be honest, she was something special and was gone way too soon, dying shortly after shooting wrapped on this picture. 

On top of that purely sexual reason for loving it we have some great visuals throughout the movie and an abundance of fantastic architecture with surrealistic cinematography by Manuel Merino. I couldn't write about the movie and not mention the awesome psychedelic  lounge score from Manfred Hubler and Siegfried Schwab which is one of my favorite scores of any film. There's also some weird scenes of implied necrophilia between Mrs. Johnson the corpse of her departed lover whom she keeps around for cuddles, a nice twist of macabre Franco strangeness. 

Audio/Video: The 1080p HD transfer from Severin Films is quite nice, beginning with some nicely managed grain and fine detail. Colors are brighter and warmer when compared to my old Synapse DVD which was much cooler looking. Fans of the magnetic Soledad Miranda will no doubt appreciate the eye-popping HD transfer and the more natural looking skin tones, right down to the last freckle. Noticeable print damage is minimal but there are instances of speckling and scratches visible from time to time. 

The German PCM 2.0 Mono audio sounds quite nice, a few audio imperfections from the source material are evident but the sexy lounge score from Manfred Hubler and Siegfried Schwab comes through nicely and is included on this set as a bonus CD, and from what I can tell this release is a repressing of that 24-track Motel Records 1995 release minus the cool artwork and booklet. Optional English subtitles are provided on the Blu-ray. 


Onto the plentiful extras we begin with an intimate interview with the director filmed before his death in 2013, Jess is typically sprawled out on his couch chain-smoking while he discusses the making of the film and his fruitful and short-lived collaboration with star Soledad Miranda. He speaks very thick-accented English, optional English subtitles are provided. 


Soledad Miranda Historian Amy Brown offers up a 20-minute about the early life and career of Miranda who passed away at the tender age of 27 less than a year after shooting on the film wrapped. Stephen Thrower, the Author of ‘Murderous Passions – The Delirious Cinema Of Jess Franco’, chimes in for 13-minutes about the Euro-cult auteur. Thrower is always a fun commentator and I hope to eventually check out his numerous books on cult cinema at some point, but all this constant movie watching typically deters my literacy aspirations. 

The last of the disc extras is a German trailer for the film plus a 7-minute interviews with frequent Franco collaborator Paul Muller who speaks about his tme working with Franco, the interview is in Spanish with English subtitling. A bonus CD of the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack for 3 Films By Jess Franco: Vampyros Lesbos / She Killed In Ecstasy / The Devil Came From Akasava. 


The discs are housed in a Criterion-style clear case within a dye cut slip case with brand new cover art by artists Wes Benscoter. There's also a postcard sized art card with an image from the film and a track list for the CD on the reverse. This release from Severin is a limited to just 4000 so act fast, you don't want to miss out on this one, no self-respecting Euro-cult fan can live comfortably knowing this is not in their possession. It should also be noted that this is the longest version available of the film, coming in at three minutes longer than the previous DVD from Synapse Films. 

Special Features: 
- Newly remastered HD presentation of the feature in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio
- Jess Killed In Ecstasy: Interview with Director Jess Franco (17 Mins) 
- Sublime Soledad: Interview with Soledad Miranda Historian Amy Brown (20 Mins) 
- Stephen Thrower on She Killed in Ecstasy: Interview with Author of ‘Murderous Passions – The Delirious Cinema Of Jess Franco’ (13 Mins) 
- Paul Muller On Jess Franco: Interview with the frequent Franco Star (7 Mins) 
- German Trailer ( 3 Mins) :
- Original Motion Picture Soundtrack for 3 Films By Jess Franco: Vampyros Lesbos / She Killed In Ecstasy / The Devil Came From Akasava. Repressing of the ultra rare 24 track CD

She Killed in Ecstasy (1970) is an erotically charged revnge film laced with intoxicating visuals and scene after scene of the lovely Soledad Miranda, who fills nearly every frame of the movie. On top of that you have a swinging psychedelic lounge score that just cannot be beat. This movie was my introduction to the strange and provocative world of Jess Franco over a decade ago, and it remains so to this day, if you're a Franco fan this is the must-own edition of the film. 4/5

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