Thursday, February 15, 2024

FRANCO FEBRUARY - DAY 15! SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY (1970) (Severin Films Blu-ray Review)

Day 15 of Franco February is one that is close to my heart, the film that introduced be to Jess Franco,  She Killed in Ecstasy (1970). An erotically charged revenger 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 is one of Franco's best. 

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: 1080p 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 of 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 stunningly gorgeous and devoted wife (Soledad Miranda, Vampyros Lesbos), the mad doc 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. 

As said there's not a lot to the story, it is very simplistic but what sold the movie for me is the stunning beauty of star Soledad Miranda. Her turn as the murderous widow is so mesmerizing, there's very little dialogue but her eyes have a hypnotic 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, but you just go with it. You'd expect that after the first corpse turned up with a note indicating that the other were are next they would be a heightened sense of self preservation among these highly educated professionals, but that just goes to show you that you should never underestimate the draw of a gorgeous, naked woman. Just thinking about it myself if I were in the situation I might set aside my own fear of death for a chance to score with Soledad Miranda if I am being honest, she was something special and was gone way too soon, dying shortly after shooting wrapped on this picture. 

On top of that purely carnal reasons for loving this movie we have some great visuals throughout the movie and an abundance of fantastic architecture with surrealistic cinematography by longtime Franco cinematographer 
Manuel Merino (Vampyros Lesbos). I couldn't write about the movie and not mention the sweet psychedelic  lounge score from Manfred Hubler and Siegfried Schwab (The Devil Came from Akasava) which is one of my favorite scores of any Franco film, of any film ever in fact. 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 well managed grain and fine detail. Colors are brighter and warmer when compared to my old Synapse Films 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 nipple and freckle. Noticeable print damage is minimal but there are instances of speckling and scratches visible from time to time.

The lossless 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 shortly before his death in 2013, Franco is typically sprawled out on his couch, chain-smoking of course,  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 interview 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, particularly when discussing Franco, 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 literary 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 time 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, which is wonderful.

The discs are housed in a Criterion-style clear case within a die-cut slipcase (o-ring) 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 revenger laced with intoxicating visuals and scene after scene of the lovely and curvy Soledad Miranda, who fills nearly every frame of the movie. On top of that you have a swinging psychedelic lounge score that will linger long after watching the feature. She Killed in Ecstasy was my introduction to the strange and provocative world of Jess Franco and it remains so to this day, if you're a Franco fan this is the must-own edition of the film.