She Killed in Ecstasy (Jess Franco, 1971)

Actress Soledad Miranda in Jess Franco's film She Killed In Ecstasy

She Killed in Ecstasy / Sie Tötete in Ekstase
Directed by:
Jess Franco. Produced by: Artur Brauner
Cast: Soledad Miranda, Howard Vernon, Ewa Stroemberg, Paul Muller, Horst Tappert.

The Story

A board of corrupt medics reject young Dr. Forrester innovative research into human embryos, driving him to suicide. His gorgeous young wife sets out to avenge his death by seducing and killing those she holds responsible.

The Cast

The cast of SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY is made up of Jess Franco regulars: Howard Vernon (THE FRENCH SEX MURDERS), Paul Muller and the director himself. Neither Fred Williams nor Horst Tappert leave much of an impression. Thankfully, Soledad Miranda is very decent in the lead role.

The script

What Jess Franco serves up here is an obvious rethread of his own magnificent 1966 revenge film MISS MUERTE / THE DIABOLICAL DR. Z.

The Music

Neither Manfred Huebler/Sigfried Schwab’s tunes nor Bruno Nicolai’s music used in the film were composed specifically for SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY and it shows. The reused music is inappropriate, feels tacked in and lacks variety.

The Problems

Horst Tappert’s character comes onstage halfway in and has nothing to do. The German TV star shares the screen with Soledad Miranda very briefly and their meeting is pointless. As usual with Franco, there are some jarring continuity issues. The autumnal Berlin-lensed scenes featuring Tappert’s inspector don’t match the bulk of the film, shot in sunny Alicante.

The cynical medics who have condemned Dr. Johnson are uniformly portrayed as conformist and devoid of compassion. Soledad Miranda’s obsessive deadly avenger doesn’t come across as a sympathetic character, either.

Haste is visible in everything, from half-written story to excessive use of padding to improvised sets. Dr. Johnson’s lab looks like a school-kid’s attempt at recreating a modern art exhibition in his bedroom. The police inspector’s office is a desk in a hotel lounge.

The Fashions

Soledad Miranda and Fred Williams look absurd in their wedding scene. Their wedding garb sits like an improvised fancy dress outfit on them. Horst Tappert’s habitual toupee and a bushy, extremely ill-fitting wig Soledad Miranda sports as part of her ‘disguise’ when seducing her victims are horrible. The medics are dressed more like pimps.

The Visuals

SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY is a feast for the eyes. Franco makes the locations and camerawork into protagonists. Althought the image framing is often approximate and there’s plenty focusing and panning issues, SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY is a good looking film.

Final Throughts

On the whole, SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY is a frustrating, colourful, slow-moving yet memorable film. It was one of six pcitures Jess Franco made for Berlin-based producer Artur Brauner in the early 1970s – a perios some fans refer as Franco’s ‘Golden Age’. A time when he still had decent actors and acceptable budgets. SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY is not quite as absorbingly free-form as its more celebrated counterpart VAMPYROS LESBOS. Still, this film is full of interesting stylistic flourishes and gives Soledad Miranda lots of screen time.