Monday, February 7, 2011

She Killed in Ecstasy (1971)

I’m the first to confess that She Killed in Ecstasy was a slight disappointment when I first saw it. But I can explain: I’ve just seen a lot of über-gory, fantastic eurocult classics like Zombie Flesh Eaters, Deep Red…yeah, all the classics and suddenly this slow, atmospheric revenge-drama took over my TV and almost bored me to death. But like all of us, you’ll get older and sooner or later you don’t crave the latest gore flicks – you want something else. That’s where Jess Franco shows up and brings his special kind of sleazy poetry to the world.

She Killed in Ecstasy is a strange, poetic revenge-story, very odd and very slow. But every frame is filled with tension and the marvelous cast, from Soledad Miranda in the lead to the victims: Paul Müller, Howard Vernon, Ewa Strömberg and finally Jess Franco himself is one of the most solid casts he’s ever had in a movie. Franco keeps the story simple, without any long and boring explanations. After Dr Johnson (Fred Williams) kills himself after being almost bullied out from scientific group, maybe of jealousy, his wife decide to take revenge on his death lures the doctors into a sex-trap which ends with her cutting or suffocating them to death!

This is so far from the typical revenge movie, it never becomes sleazy, even if it has a lot of nudity and some violence, but stays more on the arthouse-side than the exploitation side. The subtle acting from everyone involved, except maybe the great Howard Vernon who almost makes a Hitler-like performance when he stands on a stage condemning Dr Johnson, is powerful and has an aura of realism and depth. The victims, how selfish they might be, still feels human after all and never becomes stereotypical baddies. Jess Franco, a man I think is quite a decent actor, makes one of this best jobs here and it’s very obvious, whatever he said himself about this movie, that both the character and story is something he cared for very much.

Low on zooms, Franco uses stylish and simple angles with really showcases the fantastic sets. Maybe not the normal hotel rooms (Franco must be the master of portraying hotel rooms by the way, a Franco-movie with out that kinda room always seem to miss something), but the wonderful exterior locations and the fantastic surrealistic house on the island. The light is most of the time almost naturalistic, but never turns ugly or pornographic.

She Killed in Ecstasy might lack that kitchy madness that so many people love, but it has poetic revenge, a great cast and a visual style that still is one of the most unique and atmospheric I’ve seen. It’s a movie that takes it’s time and you might not like it the first time, but sooner or later it will starts to bug you (like a lot of Franco’s productions) and soon you will sit there again, inhaling the power of Franco at his best.


Alex B. said...

Yes, the Hitler-performace I also notice very time:)
Maybe Vernon thought Jess was filming him in the long shot, so he gave it some extra intensity, while Jess zoomed in.

Ninja Dixon said...

Haha, cool!
Well, maybe! You never know with those zoom lenses! I think Vernon just felt inspired, standing on a big stage, and gave it all :)

Alex B. said...

I think Vernon also gives it all in his brothel flashback scene in French Sex Murders :))

dfordoom said...

It's more or less a remake of Franco's earlier The Diabolical Dr Z. I love both films.