From the opening moments of ''She Killed in Ecstasy'' you know you're on planet Franco! We are presented with a close-up shot of a human fetus in a jar — while some spaced out groovy ''beat'' music tootles away as accompaniment! The word ''inappropriate'' springs immediately to mind — rather like watching ''The Elephant Man'' with the soundtrack of an Austin Powers movie. Yep, this is one peculiar film... no doubt about it! Soft-core sex, medical ethics, religious guilt, social satire, violence, madness and torture are all slapped around like pots of paint on a particularly jumbled Jackson Pollock canvass.
The film was made in the same year as Franco's masterpiece ''Vampyros Lesbos'' and includes several players from that movie: Paul Muller, Ewa Stromberg and the stunning Soledad Miranda, who once again takes the lead role. She plays Mrs. Johnson -- the wife of an eminent medical researcher who has just made a breakthrough discovery that could benefit all mankind. The two are living in newly wedded bliss — oblivious to the rest of the world in their house overlooking the Spanish coast. Their ideal life together is soon shattered forever though. When Dr Johnson (Fred Williams) proudly presents his work to a select group of his scientific colleagues on the Medical Council, the response is outrage and disgust. Johnson has been using human embryos in his experiments, and in no time at all finds himself denounced, vilified and eventually banned from conducting research. The Medical Council even arrange the destruction of Johnson's laboratory and notebooks! The man is destroyed, and his mental state deteriorates until, in total despair, he commits suicide. Mrs. Johnson, who has watched helplessly as her husband's life crumbled before her eyes is distraught, and keeps her husband's body in their house on an island retreat, vowing that she will take revenge on the colleagues who were responsible for destroying his life.
The rest of the film consists of Mrs Johnson first seducing and then killing the four people on The Medical Council (which include Franco himself) who denounced her husband's work. She dresses up in various disguises, lures them away from their colleagues and has sex with them (even the woman), all the time fantasising that she is making love to her husband. At the point of orgasm, she murders them! The males are also castrated (off camera). As the film progresses, the remaining members of the Medical Council realise they are being targeted by an assassin - but even then, one of them still falls for Soledad Miranda's charms.
''She Killed in Ecstasy'' is actually pretty good — if you like the euro-trash vibe of Franco's other movies it will keep you entertained. However, it isn't anywhere near as good as ''Vampyros Lesbos'' despite making use of largely the same soundtrack music from Hubler and Siegfried and many of the same props and costumes. The problem is that despite the crazy juxtapositions and uneven mix of moods evoked (ranging from solemn poignancy to overplayed satire), the plot is just too thin and linear to cope with Franco's habitual indulgences. Gore and sex addicts will be disappointed, since there isn't too much explicitly on display and it also has one of the most ineptly staged ''climactic'' endings I have ever seen.
This film is a perfect example of style and attitude over substance but, as I say, it's a great style! So I would recommend this film, but I suggest that if you haven't seen a Jess Franco film before, you should start with ''Vampyros Lesbos'' before moving on to this one.
Once again Second Sight have released a fine looking edition of ''She Killed in Ecstasy'' to compliment their excellent ''Vampyros Lesbos'' disc. The picture quality is absolutely stunning - with rich stable colours and an almost complete absence of scratches and lines. The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen, enhanced for 16x9 TVs, with a clear mono soundtrack, free of distortion. As with their other Franco release, there are few extras included - just a trailer and a small photo gallery. But Franco fans will want to pick this one up if they want to see this film looking virtually brand new!
Worth a look for committed Euro-fans.