Friday, December 31, 2021

The Sadist of Notre Dame – Severin Films (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Spain, 1979
Director: Jesus Franco
Writer: Jesus Franco
Cast: Lina Romay, Catherine Lafferière, Jesus Franco, Nadine Pascal, Pierre Taylou, Roger Germanes, Monica Swinn, France Nicolas, Sam Marée, François Guillaume, Caroline Rivière, Philippe Lebrun, Olivier Mathoto

Release Date: April 3rd, 2018
Approximate Running Time: 99 Minutes 10 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVCC
Rating: NR
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Spanish, DTS-HD Mono English, DTS-HD Mono French
Subtitles: English (for Spanish and French language audio tracks), English SDH (for the English language track)
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.98

"In 1979, legendary writer/director Jess Franco (VAMPYROS LESBOS) re-purposed elements of his satanic sex shocker EXORCISM with all-new footage to create a depraved new epic that – even by Uncle Jess standards – achieves new levels of EuroSleaze insanity: Franco himself stars a defrocked priest turned hooker-slashing psychopath, prowling the streets of Paris in a fever of violence, voyeurism, rampant nudity and S&M depravity. " - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 3.75/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, “The Sadist of Notre Dame was scanned in 4k from the only known print of this version. The element was a 35mm exhibition print and although we have restored some of the more egregious damage, this presentation does exhibit some signs of wear and tear. An element in superior condition is not known to exist.”

The Sadist of Notre Dame comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 44.9 GB

Feature: 29.2 GB

Though, there is print related damage that varies in degree throughout. The end result, is easily the best this film has looked to date on home video.

Audio: 4/5 (DTS-HD Mono Spanish), 3.75/5 (DTS-HD Mono English, DTS-HD Mono French)

This release comes with three audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in English, a DTS-HD mono mix in Spanish, and a DTS-HD mono mix in French. The strongest of these three audio mixes is the Spanish language track. The other two audio tracks exhibit some mild instances of background noise, and these two tracks do not sound as full as the Spanish language track. Dialog comes through clearly, and everything sounds balanced. This release comes with two audio options: English subtitles for the Spanish and French language tracks and English SDH subtitles for the English language track.

Extras:

Extras for this release include a documentary short on the Legendary Parisian Horror Cinema titled The Gory Days of Le Brady (30 minutes 58 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), an audio essay with Robert Monell webmaster I’m In A Jess Franco State of Mind (6 minutes 31 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with Alain Petit, author of Jess Franco Ou Les Prosperites Des Bis (5 minutes 2 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles) and an interview with Stephen Thrower, author of Murderous Passions, Franco Volume 1: The Delirious Cinema of Jesús and Flowers of Perversion, Volume 2: The Delirious Cinema of Jesús Franco titled Stephen Thrower On Sadist Of Notre Dame (27 minutes 50 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles).

Summary:

Throughout his career, Jess Franco would direct alternate versions of several of his films. And though the majority of these alternate versions were more explicit versions that were made for specific markets, A film like The Sadist of Notre Dame was one of the rare examples of an alternate version that didn’t shift the focus to adding more explicit content.

The origins of The Sadist of Notre Dame can be traced back to Exorcism, and like so many alternate versions directed by Jess Franco, Exorcism has a more explicit alternate version under the title Demoniac.

The narrative for The Sadist of Notre Dame rearranges scenes and expands upon the premise that originated with the aforementioned Exorcism. With the most noticeable difference between these two versions being how The Sadist of Notre Dame devotes more time to the backstory of the main character, a defrocked priest,

Without a doubt, The Sadist of Notre Dame’s greatest asset is Jess Franco’s superbly realized performance in the role of a defrocked priest.

The Sadist of Notre Dame gets a solid release from Severin Films, recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

Two Female Spies with Flowered Panties: Limited Edition – Severin Films (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

Theatrical Release Date: Spain, 1980
Director: Jesus Franco
Writer: Jesus Franco
Cast: Lina Romay, Lynn Monteil, Olivier Mathot, Joëlle Le Quément, Mel Rodrigo, Claude Boisson, Albino Graziani, Susan Hemingway, Muriel Montossé

Release Date: August 29th, 2017
Approximate Running Time: 94 Minutes 27 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: NR
Sound: LPCM Mono English, LPCM Mono French
Subtitles: English SDH (for the English language track), English (for the French language track)
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.98

"Lina Romay (of BARBED WIRE DOLLS and MACUMBA SEXUAL infamy) and Lynn Monteil (of Jean Rollin’s ZOMBIE LAKE and Franco’s SADOMANIA) star as a pair of cunning bisexual strippers released from prison to work undercover for the U.S. government. What follows is a deranged mélange of kinky threesomes, crazed S&M, depraved white slavers and audacious international politics that will leave even the most obsessive Franco fanatics slack-jawed in astonishment." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 3.5/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "restored uncut in HD."

Two Female Spies with Flowered Panties comes on a 25 GB single layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 21.6 GB

Feature: 15.5 GB

Though there are a few moments where colors look subdued, they appear to be accurate. The transfer is faithful to the film's intended soft-focus cinematography. Black levels are best described as adequate, and there are some mild issues related to compression. Overall, when compared to previous home video releases, this new transfer is superior in every way.

Audio: 4/5

This release comes with two audio options: a LPCM mono mix in English and a LPCM mono mix in French. It should be noted that both of these audio mixes were created in post-production. Both audio mixes sound clear, balanced, and robust when they need to be, especially the film’s score. Also included with this release are English SDH subtitles for the English language track and English subtitles for the French language track. Out of these two audio mixes, the French language track is the most satisfying. With the English language track having many of the trappings that are associated with English language tracks created in post-production.

Extras:

Extras for this release include reversible cover art, English language theatrical trailer (2 minutes 7 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), outtakes (8 minutes 50 seconds, there is no sound with this extra), an interview with Stephen Thrower, author of Murderous Passions, Franco Volume 1: The Delirious Cinema of Jesús and Flowers of Perversion, Volume 2: The Delirious Cinema of Jesús Franco titled Stephen Thrower on Two Female Spies (28 minutes 46 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), a featurette titled Filmmaker Donald Farmer Interviews Longtime Franco Composer Daniel White (11 minutes 51 seconds, LPCM stereo English with removable English subtitles) and an Interview with director Jess Franco titled Two Cats in The Canaries (10 minutes 28 seconds, LPCM stereo French with non-removable English subtitles).

Other extras include the Spanish version of the film under the title Opal of Fire, Merchants of Sex (90 minutes 14 seconds, in Spanish with removable English subtitles, 1.33:1 aspect ratio). This extra comes on a separate DVD that is limited to 3,000 copies.

Summary:

Over the years, Jess Franco has been known to remake or create variations of films that he had previously made. The spy genre is one that he has dabbled in numerous times, including films like Lucky, the Inscrutable, and The Devil Came from Akasava. The premise of Two Female Spies with Flowered Panties bears a striking resemblance to Jess Franco’s two Red Lips films (Two Undercover Angels and Kiss Me, Monster).

There are two versions of this film: Opal of Fire, Merchants of Sex (the Spanish language version) and Two Female Spies with Flowered Panties (the English/French language version). Besides each version having footage that is not in the other version, The Spanish language version also omits Cecile and Brigitte’s introduction scene, which gives more background information about their mission. The English and French language versions have this scene. Also, the English/French language version has scenes with actress Susan Hemingway (her character does not appear in the Spanish language version).

The narrative for Two Female Spies with Flowered Panties revolves around two ex-convicts who use their sexy dancing skills to help them spy on the enemy. The way in which these two convicts dance is almost exactly like the way the dance number was choreographed in Two Undercover Angels. This drawn-out strip tease is the most memorable and enjoyable moment in Two Female Spies with Flowered Panties. Another standout moment is when Lina Romay’s character, Cecile, is captured and tortured by the enemy. The action is fast and furious as things move along quickly in this sexy spy romp.

The two leads, Lina Romay as Cecile and Nadine Pascal as Brigitte, make a dynamic and alluring duo. For whatever reason, Lina Romay’s character is featured more than Nadine Pascal’s character, even though they are paired together at the beginning of the film. This film also features some off-the-wall humor, like the scene where Cecile finds a corpse in her closet. The score for Two Female Spies with Flowered Panties is very catchy and, at times, it sounds oddly familiar.

The film's English title, "Two Female Spies with Flowered Panties," is kind of misleading since none of the female spies wear flower panties. The film's Spanish language title is "palo de fuego: Mercaderes del sexo," which translates into Opal of Fire, Merchants of Sex. And the Spanish title makes more sense because it reveals some of the plot. Ultimately, if you enjoyed Jess Franco’s two Red Lips films (Two Undercover Angels and Kiss Me, Monster), then you will surely enjoy Two Female Spies with Flowered Panties.

Two Female Spies with Flowered Panties gets an excellent release from Severin Films, highly recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Cries of Pleasure – Severin Films (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Spain, 1982
Director: Jesus Franco
Writer: Jesus Franco
Cast: Lina Romay, Rocío Freixas, Antonio Mayans, Elisa Vela, Juan Soler, Jesús Franco

Release Date: February 25th, 2020
Approximate Running Time: 86 Minutes 48 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVCC
Rating: NR
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Spanish
Subtitles: English
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.98

"Inspired by Hitchcock’s ROPE, Franco utilized long takes, minimal edits and his beloved Lina Romay at her most extreme for this de Sade-induced saga of violence, depravity and psychosexual mayhem among the amoral elite." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.25/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "4k scan from the original negative."

Cries of Pleasure comes on a 25 GB single layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 22.2 GB

Feature: 17.6 GB

The source used for this transfer is in excellent shape. Print-related debris is minimal, details look crisp, colors are nicely saturated, flesh tones are correct, black levels remain strong throughout, and the grain remains intact.

Audio: 4/5

This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in Spanish, and included with this release are removable English subtitles. The audio is in very good shape. Background hiss is minimal, the dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced.

Extras:

Extras for this release include a locations featurette titled In The Land Of Franco Part 1 (21 minutes 1 second, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with Stephen Thrower, author of Murderous Passions, Franco Volume 1: The Delirious Cinema of Jesús and Flowers of Perversion, Volume 2: The Delirious Cinema of Jesús Franco titled Jess Franco’s Golden Years (26 minutes 41 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles) and an interview with Jess Franco and Lina Romay titled When Donald Met Jess and Lina Part 1 (11 minutes 24 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English with English subtitles).

Summary:

Jess Franco, like most directors, had his obsessions. And though there were several obsessions that he would return to throughout his career, When discussing the cinema of Jess Franco, there’s no denying the influence that the Marquis de Sade had.

Having said that, Jess Franco made only a few films that are directly related to the Marquis de Sade. Most notably, films like Marquis de Sade’s Justine, Eugenie: The Story of Her Journey into Perversion, and Eugenie De Sade. Throughout his filmography, there are many instances where the Marquis de Sade’s influence can be felt.

A case in point is a film like Cries of Pleasure, whose opening title sequence credits the Marquis of Sade. Cries of Pleasure and De Sade-like elements, on the other hand. The plot does not seem to have actually been adapted from the Marquis de Sade.

Jess Franco's filmmaking is the type of filmmaking that you either love or hate. His insistence on breaking cinema’s norms is one of the main reasons why there’s such a huge divide when it comes to his devotees and those who loathe his cinema.

However, there are a few instances throughout his filmography where he tries to make conventional cinema. It’s ultimately the films that defy cinema norms that his most devoted fans are most drawn to.

Cries of Pleasure is a textbook example of Jess Franco’s adventurism as a filmmaker. The anemic narrative features minimal dialog, and the bulk of the screen time is composed of moments of eroticism. Though eroticism takes center stage in Cries of Pleasure, the sex scenes are surprisingly restrained, and they never venture beyond soft-core erotica.

Performance-wise, the cast are very good in their respective roles, especially Lina Romay (Female Vampire, Exorcism) in the role of Julia, the husband’s lover. Another performance of note is by Roco Freixas in the role of Martina, the deranged wife who’s recently returned home from an asylum. Lina Romay and Roco Freixas have a tremendous amount of chemistry, and the moments they share are the most memorable.

Not to be overlooked when discussing Cries of Pleasure are the visuals, which often use long takes. And though long takes can come off as a gimmick due to poor execution, The way Jess Franco uses long takes is very effective. Most notably, by having the camera zoom in and out. Another strength of the visuals is their inventive compositions, which often frame the action through objects.

From a production standpoint, Cries of Pleasure is an extraordinary film that ranks among Jess Franco’s best films. The premise is superbly realized, the well-executed narrative is overflowing with moments that could have only been directed by Jess Franco, and the finale provides a very satisfying conclusion.

Cries of Pleasure gets a definitive release from Severin Films, highly recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

Night of Open Sex – Severin Films (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Spain, 1983
Director: Jesus Franco
Writer: Jesus Franco
Cast: Lina Romay, Antonio Mayans, Lorna Green, Albino Graziani, Juana de la Morena, Miguel Ángel Aristu, Antonio Rebollo, José Ferro, Robert Foster, Jesús Franco

Release Date: February 25th, 2020
Approximate Running Time: 89 Minutes 33 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVCC
Rating: NR
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Spanish
Subtitles: English
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.98

"Goya Award winner Jess Franco also wrote and directed this delirious hybrid of sexy caper comedy, EuroSpy suspense thriller, hard-boiled erotic noir, and depraved fetish shocker complete with jaw-dropping girl-on-girl violence. Jess’ equally legendary partner/muse Lina Romay – here at her most lusciously uninhibited." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "now scanned in 4k from the original negative."

Night of Open Sex comes on a 25 GB single layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 22.5 GB

Feature: 18.2 GB

The source used for this transfer is in excellent shape; details look crisp, colors are nicely saturated, flesh tones are correct, and the grain remains intact. Though black levels look very good, it should be noted that during darker scenes, black levels are not as strong as they are throughout the bulk of this transfer.

Audio: 3.5/5

This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in Spanish, and included with this release are removable English subtitles. Though the source that’s used for this release is in good shape, it should be noted that there is a noticeable background hiss throughout the film. Also, the background hiss is more noticeable during dialog exchanges and less noticeable when the score is prominent. Dialog always comes through clearly, and everything sounds balanced.

Extras:

Extras for this release include a locations featurette titled In The Land Of Franco Part 2 (15 minutes 27 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with Stephen Thrower, author of Murderous Passions, Franco Volume 1: The Delirious Cinema of Jesús and Flowers of Perversion, Volume 2: The Delirious Cinema of Jesús Franco titled The Night of Open Jess (20 minutes 31 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles) and an interview with Jess Franco and Lina Romay titled When Donald Met Jess and Lina Part 2 (9 minutes 35 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English with English subtitles).

Summary:

Jess Franco was a prolific filmmaker whose filmography consists of two-hundred-plus films. And though he worked in just about every genre of cinema, He’s most remembered for his contributions to erotica cinema.

In the 1960’s, Jess Franco began his career working in his homeland, Spain. He felt constrained by Spain’s censorship and when he left Spain in the mid-1960’s, he would not return until the late 1970’s. In the 1980's, now firmly retrenched in Spain, he would go on to direct what’s now referred to as the Golden Films.

Though Night of Open Sex was one of the first films Jess Franco shot for Golden Films, It was the first Jess Franco film released by Golden Films. Notable Jess Franco films released by Golden Films include: Mansion of the Living Dead, Cries of Pleasure, Macumba Sexual, The Sexual Story of O, and Night Has a Thousand Desires.

Though erotica is the element most identified with the cinema of Jess Franco. Throughout his filmography, he would often return to pulp-themed mysteries that featured many of the elements that have become synonymous with noir cinema.

The narrative for Night of Open Sex features femme fatales and other shady characters who are hell-bent on finding Nazi gold that's been buried by a dying man. In order to recover the gold, they must decipher clues that the dying man left in a book. Along the way, there are double and triple crosses and a few corpses.

When one thinks of the cinema of Jess Franco, some of his most memorable moments take place in nightclubs. And Night of Open Sex opens with a titillating nightclub sequence where Lina Romay moans and gyrates on top of a car. This eleven-minute sequence is a textbook example of how Jess Franco is able to create mesmerizing moments that are devoid of dialog.

Other memorable moments include a torture scene involving a curly iron on a woman’s genitals, an erotica dance sequence where Lina Romay’s character licks pornographic photos as she rolls around on the ground, and what’s arguably one of cinema’s weirder bondage scenes.

Despite the fact that the cast is little more than a collection of pieces that Jess Franco strategically moves around. There’s no denying Lina Romay’s (Female Vampire, Exorcism) presence in the role of cabaret dancer. She delivers a captivating performance that’s overflowing with sexuality.

Once again, Jess Franco does not disappoint when it comes to the visuals. Every composition has been framed for the greatest effect. Another strength of the visuals is how they take full advantage of the locations. It's worth noting how well Night of Open Sex transitions between humor and darker subject matter.

For the uninitiated, jumping in head first is the best way to expose yourself to the cinema of Jess Franco. He was a truly unique filmmaker who often defied cinematic norms. And in many ways, his connection to jazz music can be traced back to his cinema. He was a free-form artist who worked at a rapid pace, which kept him from second-guessing his gut instincts by living in the moment.

Severin Films rescues another Jess Franco film from obscurity and gives it a definitive release, highly recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Vampyros Lesbos: Limited Edition – Severin Films (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

Theatrical Release Date: West Germany, 1971
Director: Jesus Franco
Writers: Jesus Franco, Jaime Chávarri
Cast: Ewa Strömberg, Soledad Miranda, Andrés Monales, Dennis Price, Paul Muller

Release Date: May 12th, 2015
Approximate Running Time: 89 Minutes 19 seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVCC
Rating: NR
Sound: LPCM Mono German
Subtitles: English
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $34.98

"Stunning Soledad Miranda stars as a vixen vampire who lures women to a Mediterranean island to satisfy her insatiable lust for female flesh and blood." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "remastered in HD."

Vampyros Lesbos comes on a 25 GB single layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 22.7 GB

Feature: 15.5 GB

It doesn’t take an expert to see that this new Hi-Def transfer is vastly superior in every way when compared to all previous releases. Colors have never looked more vibrant, especially reds. Black levels and shadow detail have both greatly improved. Details look sharp, and there is also a marked improvement with regards to image clarity.

Audio: 4/5

This release comes with one audio option: a LPCM mono mix in German and removable English subtitles have been included with this release. The audio, like the transfer, has been given a complete make-over, and the end result is spectacular. Dialog comes through with crystal clarity, and everything sounds balanced. There are no issues with distortion, and background hiss is limited to a few very minor instances that never become intrusive. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this new release is how robust this audio mix sounds and how it does a superb job with the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack. Another area where the audio stands out for this release is the film’s score, which has never sounded as powerful as it does in this audio mix.

Extras:

Extras for this release include a slipcover, German theatrical trailer (2 minutes 29 seconds, LPCM mono German, no subtitles), alternate German opening credits (1 minute 26 seconds, LPCM mono), a brief clip titled Jess is Yoda (2 minutes 43 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), a featurette titled Sublime Soledad (20 minutes 22 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with Stephen Thrower author of Murderous Passions, Franco Volume 1: The Delirious Cinema of Jesús and Flowers of Perversion, Volume 2: The Delirious Cinema of Jesús Franco (11 minutes 26 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles) and an interview with Jess Franco titled Vampyros Jesus (20 minutes 52 seconds, LPCM stereo English with removable English subtitles).

Included with this release on a separate DVD is the alternate Spanish version of the film (74 minutes and 39 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Spanish with removable English subtitles). This version removes all of the nudity and replaces it with fully clothed versions of the same scene. Also, there are a handful of scenes that differ in this version from the German version. It should be noted that this alternate version of the film comes from a lesser source that at times is a little rough around the edges.

Summary:

Throughout Jess Franco’s career, he has had several key stages where he worked extensively with a producer. And in 1970, Jess Franco would end his collaboration with producer Harry Alan Towers with yet another adaption of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Out of all of the producers that worked with Jess Franco over the years, none offered him a larger canvas to work with financially than Harry Alan Towers. Feeling confined by the films that Harry Alan Towers wanted to make, Jess Franco ended their collaboration. At first, he ventured out as an independent filmmaker, making a trio of films before settling into the next phase of his evolution as a filmmaker, a trio of films with producer Artur Brauner.

Content-wise, Vampyros Lesbos bears more than a striking resemblance to Jess Franco’s last film with Harry Alan Towers, Count Dracula. With the main twist being that the protagonist role is switched from a man to a woman, Other influences that crop up during Franco’s gender bender Vampyros Lesbos include just a hint of the Marquis de Sade, which is another carryover from his Harry Alan Towers collaborations. And all of these moments of sadness revolve around the character that Jess Franco portrays in Vampyros Lesbos. Influences aside, this is clearly a film that signaled that its auteur had finally broken through creatively and that everything that came before this film was merely a warm-up for what was yet to come from him.

And though Vampyros Lesbos takes many of its cues from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, When it comes to the vibe of these films, this is where these two entities are on the polar opposite ends of the spectrum. Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula is known for its Gothic Romanticism, while Jess Franco’s Vampyros Lesbos is a manic fusion of Surrealism and Eroticism.

By this point in Jess Franco’s career as a filmmaker, plot and dialog are not much more than a means to further what he was trying to say with his visuals, which have by this point become the focal point. This Soledad Miranda striptease scene with a mannequin (or what appeared to be a mannequin) is one of the most iconic moments to ever emerge from a Jess Franco film. There is a fluidity to her movements that reinforces the sensuality of this scene. Another standout moment visually is a scene where Linda's character realizes that the only way she will be free of the Countess is if she kills her. Once again, Jess Franco ensures this moment of pathos achieves its desired effect by meticulously building up the moment to its optimal moment of climax.

When speaking about Vampyros Lesbos, one can’t overlook the importance of Soledad Miranda. Needless to say, the films that he made with Soledad Miranda, especially the ones where she is the lead actress, like she is in Vampyros Lesbos, These films could not have been made with another actress, since her undeniable presence is the main reason why they standout amongst Jess Franco’s voluminous output as a filmmaker.

Besides Soledad Miranda’s tour de force, other notable performances come from Dennis Price (Twins of Evil, Theatre of Blood) in the role of Dr. Alwin Seward (a Van Helsing like persona) and Ewa Strömberg (The Devil Came from Akasava, She Killed in Ecstasy) in the role of Linda Westinghouse. The scenes where her character and the countess interact are exceptional. Also, she has a tremendous amount of chemistry with Soledad Miranda, and it really shines through during their more intimate moments.

Last but certainly not least is Jess Franco’s own performance in Vampyros Lesbos, and this time around he portrays a deranged husband whose wife has been seduced by the Countess. From there on out, his opinion of women is very low and he has a sinister urge to inflict pain on women in a De Sade-like way. His character has this film’s most shocking moment, which is a scene where he has captured and is now torturing the Linda character, who reminds him of his wife.

Another wonderful asset that Vampyros Lesbos has is its jazz-infused score that was composed by Manfred Hübler and Sigi Schwab. The albums Psychedelic Dance Party and Sexadelic would serve as the soundtrack for these three Jess Franco films: She Killed in Ecstasy, The Devil Came from Akasava, and Vampyros Lesbos.

No matter how many times over the years that I have revisited Vampyros Lesbos, it is a film that has never lost any of its luster. And with each new viewing, my appreciation for the film continues to grow. Ultimately, Vampyros Lesbos is the ultimate Jess Franco film, and more than any other of his films, it captures the essence of his cinematic style.

Severin Films gives Vampyros Lesbos its most definitive release to date, highly recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

She Killed in Ecstasy: Limited Edition – Severin Films (Blu-ray/CD Combo)

Theatrical Release Date: West Germany, 1971
Director: Jesus Franco
Writer: Jesus Franco
Cast: Soledad Miranda, Fred Williams, Paul Muller, Howard Vernon, Ewa Strömberg, Horst Tappert, Jesus Franco

Release Date: May 12th, 2015
Approximate Running Time: 80 Minutes 25 seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVCC
Rating: NR
Sound: LPCM Mono German
Subtitles: English
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $34.98

"In what fans and critics consider to be her greatest role, the luscious Soledad Miranda in one of her final performances before her tragic death stars as the vengeful widow who seduces then murders the men and women responsible for her husband’s suicide." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "remastered in HD."

She Killed in Ecstasy comes on a 25 GB single layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 22.5 GB

Feature: 13.9 GB

This is another solid Hi-Def makeover from Severin Films that trumps all previous home video releases for this film. Colors are accurate and have never looked more vibrant than they do in this transfer.Other areas of improvement include image clarity, shadow detail, black and contrast levels.

Audio: 4/5

This release comes with one audio option: a LPCM mono mix in German and removable English subtitles have been included with this release. Once again, there has been extensive work done with the audio, as the dialog is always clear and everything sounds balanced and robust when it needs to. With that being said, outside of some very minor instances of background hiss, There is a minor instance around the fifty minute mark where the audio for a moment sounds ever so slightly distorted or off. Range-wise, things once again far exceed expectations, with the film’s delirious score greatly benefiting from this new audio mix.

Extras:

Extras for this release include a slipcover, German theatrical trailer (2 minutes 37 seconds, LPCM mono German, no subtitles), a featurette titled Sublime Soledad (20 minutes 22 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with Stephen Thrower author of Murderous Passions, Franco Volume 1: The Delirious Cinema of Jesús and Flowers of Perversion, Volume 2: The Delirious Cinema of Jesús Franco (13 minutes 7 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with actor Paul Muller (6 minutes 32 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles) and an interview with Jess Franco titled Jess Killed in Ecstasy (16 minutes 56 seconds, LPCM stereo English with removable English subtitles).

Included with this release is a CD titled 3 Films by Jess Franco, which contains twenty-four tracks of music from these three Franco films: Vampyros Lesbos, She Killed in Ecstasy, and The Devil Came from Akasava, and an insert that contains the track listing.

Summary:

There are two things that clearly inspired She Killed in Ecstasy, and actually a third connection to something else if one factors in that the film is a loose remake of Jess Franco’s own film, The Diabolical Dr. Z. The other two inspirations being Jess Franco’s fondness for monster/mad scientist type films and, last but most definitely not least, there is a more than passing similarity between She Killed in Ecstasy and François Truffaut’s The Bride Wore Black.

Structurally, She Killed in Ecstasy's narrative is more fleshed out than the other films that Jess Franco was making during this phase of his career. The premise is simple: the protagonist stalks and kills those who drove her husband to kill himself. And, after a brief set-up, things move along at a brisk pace until the conclusion. Another strength of She Killed in Ecstasy is that all of the main players and their motivations are well defined.

In other areas of She Killed in Ecstasy, there is a satisfying mix of carnage and eroticism. The scenes that shine the most in this regard are the well-executed death scenes, most notably the one where Howard Vernon’s character gets stabbed over a dozen times in the genitals.

From a performance standpoint, the world revolves once more around Soledad Miranda, whose captivating performance finds that ever so perfect balance between alluring seductress and an angel of death, exacting their vengeance on those who have wronged them. At the moment where her character reflects on what she has done while half naked on her couch,

Several cast members from Vampyros Lesbos return for She Killed in Ecstasy, albeit in different roles. This time, the cast functionality outside of Miranda's performance is essentially mere props that Jess Franco exploits at the appropriate time. Unfortunately, the performance that leaves the most to be desired is Fred Williams's in the role of Soledad Miranda’s husband, who has taken his own life after his life’s work has been rejected by colleagues. His emotionless performance makes it difficult to care about his plight.

On the other hand, the other three main performances are great in their respective roles as they just sit back and let Soledad Miranda’s character savagely inflict pain on them. Also, there is a scene that is oddly reminiscent of a moment in Vampyros Lesbos's film. And in this scene, Jess Franco’s character becomes the victim as Soledad Miranda’s character slowly tortures him while he sits in a chair.

Another wonderful asset that this film has is its jazz-infused score, which was composed by Manfred Hübler and Sigi Schwab. The albums Psychedelic Dance Party and Sexadelic would serve as the soundtrack for these three Franco films: She Killed in Ecstasy, The Devil Came from Akasava, and Vampyros Lesbos.

Shooting back to back with Vampyros Lesbos, there is an immediacy to the events which unfold in She Killed in Ecstasy. Unfortunately, Jess Franco and Soledad Miranda would only go on to make one more film together, The Devil Came from Akasava. She would die tragically in a car crash shortly thereafter. Ultimately, She Killed in Ecstasy is an extraordinary film that makes a perfect companion piece to Vampyros Lesbos.

She Killed in Ecstasy gets an excellent release from Severin Films, highly recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

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