She Killed in Ecstasy Review

Johnson (Frank Williams) is a scientist working on genetic engineering and cloning. However, he is banned from continuing by a panel of four doctors and the resulting bad publicity causes Johnson to go mad and eventually kill himself. His distraught wife (Soledad Miranda, acting under the name Susann Korda) vows revenge on the four doctors, whom she holds responsible for her husband's death. She sets out to seduce and kill them one by one.

Jess Franco (who directed this under a pseudonym as well as giving himself an uncredited acting role as one of the four doctors) is in the Guinness Book of Records as the most prolific film director of all time. Second Sight are releasing She Killed in Ecstasy (also known as Mrs Hyde) on DVD along with another Franco of similar vintage, Vampyros Lesbos. She Killed in Ecstasy is a film of remarkable, indeed single-minded, narrative simplicity, which accounts for the brief running-time. An opening act shows Mrs Johnson mourning her husband's death, with the events leading up to it retold in flashback. Then we have the pursuit, seduction and murder of each victim, four separate sequences one after the other.

What you will look for in vain in this film is much in the way of subtlety, good acting or any visual flair in the usual sense. What you will get is a considerable fondness for the zoom lens (in a few places, the focus-puller was obviously unable to keep up!), a synthesiser score of a type rarely heard outside porn movies, and some laughably kitsch contemporary fashion. Sex was the main selling point here (it's quite restrained in the gore department), and Franco wastes no opportunity to show the comely Ms Miranda in various states of undress, if not completely nude. Needless to say, one of her victims (Ewa Stroemberg) is a lesbian, but Mrs Johnson doesn't hesitate to seduce her too. Note a couple of odd film-buff homages: two of the doctors are called Donen and Huston.

This restored all-regions version (uncut by the BBFC) was jointly commissioned by Second Sight. It went back to the original negative and it's as good a transfer as you're likely to get. It's in 16:9 (presumably corresponding to 1.75:1 in the cinema - certainly it seems to be in the right ratio) and anamorphic. It looks very good indeed, barring a slightly faded credits sequence, which may be deliberate but I suspect not, and some unobtrusive artefacting. The film is shot in the type of high-keyed colour that immediately places it as late 60s/early 70s, and the DVD presents this very well. The soundtrack is in German, possibly because that version was the longest. Some of the cast are obviously dubbed, others aren't, so I suspect that there is no "original-language" version of this film. The soundtrack is mono, as you'd expect. Like many European films of its time (Italian ones especially) it has a rather hollow sound to it, due to nothing being recorded live. There's also a lot of emphasis on that synthesiser score. If your German is up to it, you can switch the subtitles off.

The extras include a rather rambling (two and a half minutes) trailer, obviously aimed at the dirty mac brigade. It's presented in non-anamorphic 1.66:1. The stills gallery comprises sixteen lobby cards (that Sie tötete in Ekstase in yellow letters on each one is something of a giveaway). When you get to the last one, if you page forward you start again at the beginning. The menu navigation here could be improved: you have to press the Down button to go up on the screen. I have no complaints about the number of chapter stops: twenty is more than enough for a film just short of an hour and a quarter.

There are many words to describe this film, "tacky" being one of them. "Good" is not another, but then neither is "boring". Second Sight are releasing a wide range of interesting and well-presented DVDs, and this is one of them.

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