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Conrado San Martín,
A young doctor kills himself after a medical committee terminates his research into human embryos, considering it too inhumane. His wife then seeks revenge on those who drove her husband to his death by luring each member of the committee into compromising situations and then killing them one by one. Written by
Kevin Steinhauer <K.Steinhauer@BoM.GOV.AU>
If ever there was a film director who epitomized the term Eurotrash it surely is Jesus Franco. His films are a curious mix of art and trash. Some of them are terrible but some of them are great. She Killed in Ecstasy is undoubtedly one of the latter. I can think of very few film-makers who treat plot-dynamics with such extreme indifference as Franco, so, really there is no point whatsoever detailing the storyline. All you need to know is that it is unashamedly unrealistic and absurd with plot-holes so enormous that it is entirely pointless taking them even slightly seriously. Like Franco's other best films such as Eugenie, Vampyros Lesbos or A Virgin Among the Living Dead, this film relies on a combination of eroticism, mild horror, surreal imagery, some visual flair, astonishing music and an iconic female lead. Similar to those other films, this movie is, to put it mildly, not for everyone.
Like the majority of his films, this movie has been produced on a minuscule budget, and it shows. But while Franco cannot escape from the cheap and rushed approach, impinged upon him by budgetary constrains, it is the things that the film gets right that are so remarkable. First off, that soundtrack. Wow. Very similar to the score for Vampyros Lesbos, the music here is extraordinary. Composed and performed by Manfred Hübler and Sigi Schwab, it's a highly infectious upbeat lounge classic that defies description. I don't know if Franco spent a disproportionately large slice of his budgets on his music scores but if he did then the gamble paid off, as the soundtracks to his best early 70's movies are pure gold and have helped make these little movies timeless. A very similar thing could be said about She Killed in Ecstasy's other trump card Soledad Miranda. Honestly, I cannot think of anyone else like her. On paper she wasn't given a great deal to do in her Franco collaborations but I have rarely seen an actress with as much screen presence; she's frankly mesmerising. Despite the artificiality of these films, Soledad is never less than convincing. And in this film she is possibly at her absolute peak. She owns the picture. And Franco lovingly films her. Despite the abundant nudity and eroticism in her scenes it NEVER feels gratuitous with Soledad. Her presence is almost ethereal at times. I don't know if this has something to do with the real-life tragedy of her early death but, in any case, she is a treasure to be appreciated and her appearance in the handful of cult films she made with Franco is a testament to a screen presence that is equally beautiful, erotic, mysterious, vulnerable and confident. The other cast members are serviceable at best, although Howard Vernon is always kind of fun. But special mention must go to Horst Tappert as the police inspector, in all my years of watching films involving ineffectual policemen in pursuit of serial killers, I have never seen a more hopeless and hilariously unconcerned law enforcer. It looked suspiciously likely that he prepared for this particular investigation by smoking industrial quantities of marijuana.
Negative aspects of the movie? Well, despite the soundtrack, the presence of Soledad and the nice visual touches, She Killed in Ecstasy suffers from one of the most common faults to be found in Franco's output the pacing. His films never exactly move along at a fast tempo and this one is no different. His filming style seems to favour editing together LONG single takes, rather than a series of shorter edits. This results in some scenes seeming to go on far too long and the film drags at times despite it's short running time. One unusual result of this is when these long, fairly uneventful scenes are combined with the completely contrasting upbeat soundtrack. It makes for a pretty disorientating effect, watching a slow scene to a soundtrack you just can't help tapping your feet along to. It certainly is unique and, along with the presence of Soledad, makes these slow sections not just bearable but, for the most part, hypnotically enjoyable.
This little cult item is definite proof that back in the day Jess Franco was making some films that offered something completely different in a good way. This is a classic of the sexploitation genre that I wholeheartedly recommend to fans of European cult cinema and the wonderful beauty that is Soledad Miranda.
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