Wednesday, September 1, 2010

She Killed in Ecstasy (Jesus Franco, 1971)

One of the great things about the multitude of bad Franco pictures (though I contend each has something of value) is that the good ones seem all the better. Example: She Killed in Ecstasy, aka Sie tötete in Ekstase, is a fairly straightforward revenge tale with beautiful location shots and a style of story telling that rarely leaves the audience confused. There is some trippiness to it, but it is not so terribly odd.

The story is simple. Doctor Johnson (Fred Williams, Count Dracula, A Bridge Too Far) is performing questionable medical experiments. The local medical association bans him from practice and destroys his research. He cannot take the shame of being called a blasphemous criminal, and takes his own life. His wife, Franco favorite Soledad Miranda, vows to avenge his shame/death by killing those that branded and destroyed him.

Lab coats are different in the south of France.

Mrs. Johnson knows what it takes to lure these pious healers to their doom. Sex, of course. They preach of doing good, and maintaining the righteousness of medicine in the face of godless researchers, so obviously they are deep-down filthy sinners. Sounds kind of modern, doesn't it?

The medical association, played by Franco regulars Paul Müller, Ewa Strömberg, Franco, and Howard Vernon.

First, she goes after Professor Walker (Howard Vernon, A Virgin Among the Living Dead) who she lures to a hotel room by pretending to be a prostitute. Walker is the most vocal and self-righteous of the group, yet has no qualms engaging a prostitute right after and interview on his holy viewpoint. Walker is impotent and likes to be degraded. She gets him halfway there, and then...

Soon, the rest of the association fall before Mrs. Johnson's rage. Doctor Crawford (Ewa Strömberg, Vampyros Lesbos) is a lesbian lured to her death by a disguised Mrs. Johnson, and Doctor Houston (Paul Müller, Eugenie de Sade) has a similar fate as Walker.

Mrs. Johnson saves the best for last, Doctor Donen (Franco). She kills his wife first (off screen) and then ties him to a chair and kills him in a fashion that likely inspired Franco fan Quentin Tarantino's chair killing in Reservoir Dogs.

Not as manic as Reservoir Dogs, but has quite happy music in the background.

This story really fits Franco's style. During the seduction scenes, the action cuts away to scenes of Miranda and Williams before his death, leading the viewer to remember that she is doing this for revenge, but also perhaps thinks of her husband to better fake her attraction to her victims. Miranda gives us a good, crazy performance here. I have not divulged everything. She is nuts, and Franco does not let you forget it.

It just wouldn't be a Soledad Miranda role if she didn't sit clutching her legs.

Weighing in at a mere 73 minutes (on the Image Entertainment DVD, at least), this is a lean, no nonsense film that wastes very little time. You get about 20 minutes of exposition in the beginning, and then on to the action. Well worth your time.

More images and a video at my Franco-Phile Tumblr.


Will Errickson said...

I agree. My favorites of Franco's are this, VAMPYROS LESBOS, and VENUS IN FURS. Can NOT get enough Soledad! Alas.

Darius Whiteplume said...

Alas, indeed. I still need to see Venus in Furs.

Unknown said...

NO! There is no such thing as a bad Jess Franco film!

Darius Whiteplume said...

;-) - I like them all, though Female Vampire left me confused.

dfordoom said...

She Killed in Ecstasy is more or less a remake of Franco's earlier The Diabolical Dr. Z (AKA Miss Muerte). Both versions are terrific films. But She Killed in Ecstasy has Soledad!

Darius Whiteplume said...

I need to see Dr. Z yet. Anything with Soledad gets automatic bonus points.

There are _so_ many Franco films out there... Before the internet, it was impossible to seek out the best. Thank Cheese for horror bloggers!

Copyboy said...

Wow! Got a lot for my Netflix queue. Though I wish it was infinite earths instead of Two. Viva 1985.

Darius Whiteplume said...

There is too much goodness on Netflix. Unfortunately I keep finding stuff they don't have that I want.

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