She Killed in Ecstasy ★★★★

Watching She Killed in Ecstasy back-to-back with Frankenstein Created Woman worked out nicely. Ecstasy feels like a bolder, feature-length version of Woman‘s last half-hour, with all the knobs—sex, violence, color saturation and volume—turned to 11. Was that a sloppy metaphor? I don’t care! That’s what this movie did to me. I’m a rebel now.

I wan’t always a rebel. Heck, I’ve known about Jesús Franco since I was 14 years old—I was that kid who read Starlog and books like In Search of Dracula—but always avoided his movies. I’m a bit of a prude, and have a low tolerance for dream-logic over plot. “Nudity and zoom lenses” just didn’t seem like my idea of a good time.

I was a damned fool.

The plot’s straightforward: woman systematically seduces, then murders, the people responsible for driving her husband to suicide. The exact reason for the “seduce” part of the plan is a little hazy. It’d be churlish to complain, through, because (a) sexploitation, and (b) holy hell Soledad Miranda is gorgeous. I was a little worried, halfway through, that the episodic structure meant things were going to get repetitive, but then the dark humor really kicked in and put this revenger in a whole new category.

For all of its lurid excess, there is a sort of psychological realism in Mrs. Johnson’s arc. She starts out as a relatively organized, mission-oriented serial killer, manipulating social cues to allow her targets to trap themselves. Faced with more skittish prey, she transforms into a much more aggressive predator, emboldened by their fear and her own increasing bloodlust. As her spree continues, her methods become increasingly disorganized as she continues to undergo psychological decompensation.

I’m not claiming that this movie makes a hell of a lot of sense. Or that it isn’t a chaotic mess on occasion. Certain shots (and whole scenes) last twice as long as they should, and I’m not nearly as enamored with the soundtrack as a lot of people seem to be. But on the whole I was really impressed with She Killed in Ecstasy. Glad I saw it in restored form from Severin. I expect this will be a touchstone as I work my way through Franco’s earlier (and, as I understand it, mostly lesser) films.

[Hoop2fer #2, watched with Frankenstein Created Woman.]

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