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Image Entertainment presents
She Killed in Ecstasy (Sie tötete in Ekstase) (1970)

"My revenge will be dreadful."
- Mrs. Johnson (Soledad Miranda)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: December 30, 2004

Stars: Soledad Miranda, Fred Williams, Howard Vernon
Other Stars: Paul Muller, Ewa Stroemberg, Horst Tappert, Jess Franco
Director: Jess Franco

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, sexuality, violence, suicide)
Run Time: 01h:13m:48s
Release Date: October 05, 2004
UPC: 014381224528
Genre: cult


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B-A-B D+

DVD Review

The fans of Jess Franco are a devoted, if oddball, lot. And while those fans may dispute the relative merits of the obsessive director's film output, there is one topic that they are generally agreed upon: his most impressive find was actress Soledad Miranda, who made a handful of oddball pictures with him in the early 1970s before her untimely death in a car wreck. Between the justifiably notorious Vampyros Lesbos and the somewhat obscure The Devil Came from Akasava she took the title role in this steamy tale of revenge, showcasing her best performance.

Dr. Johnson (Fred Williams) has been conducting experiments to increase resistance to disease by injecting fetuses with animal hormones. The medical congress is outraged at his conduct, and not only refuses to approve his work, but strips him of his license to practice medicine. Despondent, Johnson commits suicide. His beautiful wife (Miranda) doesn't take kindly to the hounding of her husband, and one by one she seduces and murders the members of the medical congress, both male and female.

The story may look familiar to Franco fans; it's a sexier reworking of his The Diabolical Doctor Z (1966), but with Miranda in the lead role it rises way above its predecessor. She's not only gorgeous, with bottomless dark eyes, but she demonstrates a range here that she never got to utilize in any other picture. Franco was well aware of her sensuous attractions, and spares no opportunity to have her disrobe. Not that that's a bad thing. Her lesbian scene with Ewa Stroemberg is particularly erotic. Franco's mix of sex and violence in the same act are plenty shocking today, since the two have become so compartmentalized in film.

The supporting cast is reasonably good as well, with the reliable Howard Vernon frequent Franco stars Stroemberg and Paul Muller as part of the medical congress that Mrs. Johnson is determined to destroy. That group is rounded out by a pudgy Franco, who lends what mild comic air there is to the picture. Horst Tappert has a somewhat thankless role as the police inspector who takes a flippant attitude to the proceedings, with disastrous results. Not only is he uninterested in the hounding of Johnson (including the offscreen smashing of his lab by thugs), but when Dr. Houston (Muller) begs for protection Tappert laughs him off. It's an odd and off-kilter performance that seems to point out a contempt for governmental authority on Franco's part.

The Macguffin that starts everything in motion has proven to be remarkably prescient: although Johnson has achieved results that he believes will be useful to humanity, his techniques are condemned as "criminal" and "blasphemous," not unlike current controversies regarding stem cell research. But one suspects that stem cell researchers don't have a Soledad Miranda waiting in the wings for them.

Franco is fairly restrained behind the camera this outing, without the incessant zooming and effects that would mar much of his later film output. Some sloppiness is nonetheless evident: at one point character names for Muller and Franco are inexplicably swapped. What would be a rather ordinary tale of revenge (and indeed, was in its original incarnation) is propelled to a different level by Miranda. It doesn't hurt that Franco adds another layer of weirdness on top of the revenge story: not only does Mrs. Johnson pursue revenge, but she carts along her dead and decomposing husband with her as she does so! The print stops abruptly, without end credits (just as does the Synapse disc released some years earlier).

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Comparing this release to the release from Synapse a few years ago is like night and day. The color here is vivid, where the Synapse version was washed out, and the print this time out suffers from almost none of the damage and speckling that its precursor had. This looks very nice indeed, almost too good for a Franco film. The only complaints are iffy shadow detail and very slight edge enhancement. But on the whole this is a very pleasing upgrade to the older disc. Although the running time is over 3 minutes shorter than on the Synapse disc, I didn't note any missing footage. This disc appears to be a conversion from a PAL transfer, which would account for the missing minutes. There are no PAL conversion artifacts that I saw, however.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoGermanno


Audio Transfer Review: The original 2.0 mono German track sounds acceptable for the extremely low budget that Franco wa working with. Music (much of it lifted from the classic score for Vampyros Lesbos) is a shade tinny and there's mild noise and crackle, but again it is a significant improvement over the rather noisy Synapse disc. Alas, Miranda is as usual (badly) dubbed.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 11 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Vampyros Lesbos
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Still gallery
Extras Review: There's not much for extras here: a gallery of one poster plus about ten lobby cards, and German-language (unsubtitled) nonanamorphic widescreen trailers for Vampyros Lesbos and the feature. Chaptering is a little thin but acceptable.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

A must for Franco fans, this is a weird and erotic tale of revenge, with the exquisite Soledad Miranda as much more than just prominently-featured eye candy. The transfer is a huge upgrade over the old release, which is well worth replacing.

 


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