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Saturday, June 27, 2015

She Killed in Ecstasy and Vampyros Lesbos (Severin Blu-ray) - Double Your Franco, Double Your Freak On

When you hear the name Jess Franco you probably instantly starting drooling over the mental images of sexy women artistically splayed across the screen, beautiful shot and set to exquisite music balanced with a plot twist so shocking your mind can barely stand it (because it’s near absurdist). If you were to play a word association game and a participant were to draw the name Jess Franco (or Jesus Franco), one might be inclined to pair it with the words gonzo or sleaze or Renaissance man. His over 200 works of film have been appreciated for years by a small, cult-like group of devoted followers who pray to the goddess Lina Romay and fondle their fake moustaches as if they were Salvador Dali mimes, and in his death Franco has become the icon to many. His legend continues and, thankfully, his work endures. Severin Films has always been a staunch supporter of the legacy of Franco, supporting his films with quality releases and attempting to preserve what might otherwise be lost to the next “generation sleaze”.  In their most recent releases of Franco’s work, Severin has taken films that some might consider trash and offered them a silver platter with white glove treatment and anointed it with oil squeezed from the pores of a 1000 virgins with beautiful pubic hair. Let’s talk about She Killed in Ecstasy. Let’s talk about Vampyros Lesbos.

She Killed In Ecstasy

It’s a true joy to watch strange revenge films filled with sexual drama especially when the root of the movie what borderlines on mad science. She Killed in Ecstasy is a picture filled with erotic, murderous moments that are as sexy as they are shocking. That’s not to say that She Killed in Ecstasy is a frightening picture. We must remember that Franco doesn’t necessarily put out straightforward horror fantasy, but focuses on the psychological derangement brought on my extraordinary circumstance. Of course there will be exceptions to that rule with a movie like Oasis of the Zombies, but for the most part you have to look below the skin of your protagonist to understand motivation rather than action.  The “She” in this instance is simply a woman in love whose strange marriage was destroyed by a society unwilling to test the boundaries of its own mores. Of course many would say that dear Dr. Johnson deserved his fate for meddling with nature in a way that is highly unethical. Love rarely knows ethics and thus love can know murder quicker than it can understand forgiveness.

Beyond providing a fairly taught skin flick, Franco has provided a deeper look into the psychology of desperation and codependency. For those of you who read this column often you know that I typically flounder at the thought of being forced to think while watching a film, but on this rare occasion I was intrigued. She Killed is not a passive movie; it requires the active mind and libido to full enjoy.

With a great score and an excellent representation of Franco’s style and composition, I offer a strong recommendation for this picture to Francophiles who have not yet enjoyed this movie. Furthermore it comes with a strong extra package that celebrates Franco via interview and in context via the great Stephen Thrower. The die-cut cover is splendid as is the artwork of Wes Benscoter who did a fantastic job on this release as well as Vampyros Lesbos and the recent vinyl release of the Absurd soundtrack. The limited edition makes it highly collectible but thankfully Severin licensed enough units to make it available for the raging torrent of Jess addicts.


https://severin-films.com/shop/she-killed-in-ecstasy-2-disc-limited-edition-blu-ray/

From Severin:

An erotic horror tale about a vixen vampiress seducing and killing women to appease her insatiable thirst for female blood.
SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY Limited Edition Of 4000
Disc 1 (Blu-Ray):
Newly remastered HD presentation of the feature in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio
“Jess Killed In Ecstasy”: Interview with Director Jess Franco
“Sublime Soledad”: Interview with Soledad Miranda Historian Amy Brown
“Stephen Thrower on She Killed in Ecstasy”: Interview with Author of ‘Murderous Passions – The Delirious Cinema Of Jess Franco’
“Paul Muller On Jess Franco”: Interview with the frequent Franco Star
German Trailer
Disc 2 (CD):
Original Motion Picture Soundtracks
3 Films By Jess Franco: Vampyros Lesbos/She Killed In Ecstasy/The Devil Came From Akasava
Repressing of the ultra rare 24 track CD
Specially packaged in dye cut slip case. Newly created cover art by Wes Benscoter.


Vampyros Lesbos

Where She Killed in Ecstasy felt like a psychological mind-screw of a picture, Vampyros Lesbos is a more straightforward erotic movie filled with all the things that Franco loves. Sexy women. Island in the Mediterranean. Blood. Both movies star Soledad Miranda and were made within a year of each other, but the tone feels different. She Killed makes you feel as though you are slowly winding down into the pit of strange despair and madness while Vampyros Lesbos comes across as an erotic nightmare that is borderline fever dream. This is early Franco when he’s just coming into his own with his pure erotic efforts, and is one of my personal favorite periods of his work.

While I enjoyed Vampyros Lesbos I can’t help but feel that it doesn’t feel like a candid display of nudes rather than a cohesive polished narrative. I enjoyed the performances, and it’s another awesome soundtrack from Manfried Hubler and Siegfried Schwab, but the story line is more a vehicle for erotic moments; almost in the same way that 80’s post-golden age porn had become. Still, the connection to the Dracula mythology makes me love it; not that the movie embraces any of the successful techniques of Hammer combining erotic moments with pure horror. It has a strong finish so stick around.

Vampyros Lesbos and She Killed in Ecstasy both saw DVD releases from Synapse in the early 2000’s, but are now on beautiful Blu-ray with exquisite packaging and extras. Severin’s previous offerings have always had great transfer but occasionally light on the extras. These two releases are truly game changers that take boutique labels to task in coming up with clever packages with volumes of material for fans who may own previous releases.



From Severin:

An erotic horror tale about a vixen vampiress seducing and killing women to appease her insatiable thirst for female blood.
VAMPYROS LESBOS Limited Edition Of 7500

Disc 1 (Blu-Ray):
Newly remastered HD presentation of the feature in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio
“Vampyros Jesus”: Interview featurette with Director Jess Franco
“Sublime Soledad”: Interview with Soledad Miranda Historian Amy Brown
“Stephen Thrower on Vampyros Lesbos”: Interview with Author of ‘Murderous Passions – The Delirious Cinema Of Jess Franco’
“Jess Is Yoda” Clip
Alternate German Opening Title Sequence – ‘Dracula’s Heiress’
German Trailer
Disc 2 (DVD):
Las Vampiras – Alternate Spanish Language VHS Version With Optional English Subtitles
Specially packaged in dye cut slip case. Newly created cover art by Wes Benscoter.


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