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Conrado San Martín,
Without a family, penniless and separated from her sister, a beautiful chaste woman will have to cope with an endless parade of villains, perverts and degenerates who will claim not only her treasured virtue but also her life.
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>
This was only my second Soledad Miranda film, and it took me a while to get to it after being somewhat underwhelmed by EUGENIE DE SADE (1970), perhaps her most acclaimed collaboration with Jess Franco.
Anyway, I found SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY (which I watched via quite a satisfactory VHS dub) to be generally enjoyable and, typically of this period in Franco's career, rather good to look at (despite its obvious 'cheapness'). This, in fact, was one of the criticisms I leveled at EUGENIE DE SADE when I posted my first impressions of it on the 'DVD Maniacs' Forum: after the relative aesthetic beauty of THE DIABOLICAL DOCTOR Z [MISS MUERTE] (1965), EUGENIE THE STORY OF HER JOURNEY INTO PERVERSION (1969), A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD (1971) and, to a lesser extent, LUCKY THE INSCRUTABLE (1967), I had found the leap into extreme realism (in the film's ambiance if not the plot's logical progression, which I had discussed with Francesco at the time) rather too jarring BUT I'm digressing here, so back to the topic at hand
SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY is aided immeasurably by its great pop soundtrack, with which I personally had no problem whatsoever. [Another brief parenthesis here: Francesco had told me that some of the same music is also featured in another notable Franco/Miranda collaboration, VAMPYROS LESBOS (1970), which I have yet to watch so that's surely a point in its favor already!] The film is essentially a remake of the superior if more traditional MISS MUERTE, but with a few interesting plot changes: here, the controversial doctor is the husband and not the father of the leading lady, making for an even more intense revenge scenario; the girl, then, commits the murders herself this time around rather than relegating them to a subordinate a' la Miss Death; finally, even though in this case the deadly weapon is nothing more complicated than a dagger, the visual depiction of the 'murders' themselves (due, no doubt, to the more tolerant censorship prevalent in the late Sixties) is a lot more vicious. Similarly, a lot more eroticism is allowed here too, some of it purely gratuitous, but most effective during the lesbian sequences featuring Miranda and Ewa Stromberg (whose relationship, I felt, echoes the rather moving one between Maria Rohm and Margaret Lee in Franco's masterpiece VENUS IN FURS ).
For the true Franco fan, the film's cast has been wonderfully assembled, beginning with Soledad Miranda herself, of course: though her performance is slightly overstated by the end, here she is perhaps even more compelling and seductive than in EUGENIE DE SADE (though I still think that one is the better film overall); regulars Howard Vernon, Paul Muller and Ewa Stromberg not forgetting Franco himself as the stuffy and arrogant doctors who condemn the girl's scientist husband, all of whom are subsequently helpless to resist her 'attentions' when she confronts them!; Horst Tappert as the rather lethargic (yet amusing) Police Inspector, who never even thinks of interrogating Mrs. Johnson (the name of Miranda's character) when the bodies start piling up and fails even to prevent her own suicide! Actually, the only actor who failed to convince was Fred Williams as Dr. Johnson, whose lengthy brooding and subsequent hysterics after he is expelled, tended to bog down the film's first half!
As such the film's pace is rather uneven: initially slow moving and fairly dull, where I really wanted the Williams character to die so that his wife's revenge plan could be put into action! Sure enough, it picks up speed from then on with the girl actively, almost nonchalantly, stalking her 'prey' (in alternately lush and common surroundings, at first in public and then privately), yet always allowing or, we might say, compelling them to make the first move towards their own demises! The ending, unfortunately, is somewhat hurried and quite poorly staged though, in hindsight, its foreshadowing of a real-life tragedy (Soledad Miranda's own death in similar circumstances occurred before the film was even released) leaves a definite impact which, I would argue, goes far beyond Franco's own wildest expectations for his film!
Needless to say, I look forward now to seeing more films featuring this enchanting actress (her other work with Jess Franco above all), particularly VAMPYROS LESBOS and, in view of its thematic similarities with MISS MUERTE and SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY itself, the hopefully upcoming NIGHTMARES COME AT NIGHT (1970).
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