Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Jesus Franco - Sie tötete in Ekstase aka She Killed in Ecstasy (1971)

Jesus Franco has made so many movies that it's almost inevitable that he will occasionally get one right. This is one of those movies where his bizarro and repetitive plots, his pan-and-zoom-happy cinematography and his obtrusive jazz score all manage to gel for a pretty dumb but thoroughly enjoyable movie. It helps, of course, that this was one of only four films he made with the incredible Soledad Miranda before her untimely death.

There's no denying that Franco's regular collaborator (and wife), Lina Romay, was a very sexy actress in her prime and has become something of a legend in her own right, but she is a pale shadow of Soledad Miranda, who was if anything even more beautiful and had a class and talent that none of Franco's later actresses could hope to achieve.

The plot is about as simple as you get -- this is yet another Franco knock-off of "The Bride Wore Black" with Miranda avenging herself on the scientists who drove her husband to suicide by censuring his morally dubious embryo research. Of course, this involves getting them all in bed (including the one woman, who is naturally a lesbian). This makes for some interesting (and sometimes disturbing) scenes--a nude woman being smothered with a see-through plastic throw pillow, a single trickle of blood running down Miranda's bare thigh after she stabs one poor guy in the back (while he is apparently licking the lint from her belly button), and, perhaps most disturbing of all, Howard Vernon, Dr. Orloff himself, in the altogether (shudder!).

Like any good Franco movie this film is deliciously perverse. Miranda's murderous campaign against these hapless souls is every bit as morally questionable as her husband's grisly experiments. She manages to achieve an uneasy combination of touchingly sympathetic, voraciously sexy, and frighteningly psychotic. Her last two victims (one of who is Franco himself) realize exactly who she is and know she's going to kill them, but they can't resist her any more than a male praying mantis can resist the female who is going to rip him apart and eat him after copulation.