Prolific Eurocult director Jesus Franco worked with countless continental leading ladies as he made his nearly 200 films – but the one who moved him the most as a filmmaker was Soledad Miranda. She tragically died before the age of 30 in a car accident, on the verge of signing a contract that would lead to several more Franco/Miranda collaborations, but her handful of films with Franco included some of the controversial director’s most inspired work.
She Killed In Ecstasy is not as well-known as Vampyros Lesbos – the key Franco/Miranda work for most Eurocult fans – but it is equally worthy of consideration. This film finds Franco using Miranda as the pivotal figure in a revenge scenario. She plays the wife of a scientist (Fred Williams) who is driven to suicide by the treachery of his jealous colleagues. Said colleagues include a rogue’s gallery of Franco regulars: Howard Vernon, Paul Muller, Ewa Stromberg and Franco himself! Miranda begins to seduce and slash her way through the scientists’ ranks, giving Franco plenty of room to indulge his love for sex, death and delirium.
The resulting film is unusually plot-intensive for Franco, with a first act that delivers an effective comic book-style plot setup (Franco’s love of the zoom lens is used well here). However, it’s Miranda’s revenge that really gives the film its charge. Franco gives her plenty of room to emote and she hits all the notes from grief to rage with fervor. The director’s camera also makes the most of her as an alluring, fancifully-dressed figure of sex and death. Miranda dives into the love scenes and the killings with total commitment to Franco’s feverish approach. It’s a beautiful actor/director marriage that any Eurocult fan can appreciate.
And that’s not all the fun that She Killed In Ecstasy has to offer. Franco exploits futuristic-chic architecture, costumes and furnishings to create a beautiful pop art backdrop for his oversexed mayhem. Vernon chews the scenery with glee as the nastiest of the enemies while Stromberg adds extra eye candy and Muller plays his character’s guilt and nervousness well. Franco the director gives Franco the actor a final scene that mixes lust with death in a suitably flamboyant way. The cherry on top comes from the Manfred Hubler/Siegfried Schwab soundtrack, which takes lounge music into lysergic realms.
In short, She Killed In Ecstasy is the best Franco/Miranda teaming after Vampyros Lesbos and an impressive example of Franco’s esoteric style firing on all cylinders. If you’re adventurous enough to sample this director’s work, this film is something you should include in your survey.