Saturday, October 24, 2020

A LIZARD IN A WOMAN'S SKIN (1971) Blu-ray Review

SCARE-A-THON Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 23
Total First Time Views: 13
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $1,755.36

A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (1971) d. Lucio Fulci (Italy/Spain) (104 min) (2nd viewing)

Carol Hammond (Florinda Bolkan), daughter of affluent London lawyer Edmond Brighton (Leo Genn), seeks out therapy to deal with both her insomnia and increasingly vivid, sexually tinged nightmares, the latter of which have begun to prominently feature her hedonistic next-door neighbor Julie Durer (Anita Strindberg). When Julie turns up demised in very much the manner that one of Carol’s dreams depicted, everyone – including Carol – is inclined to believe she is the guilty party. But when blackmail phone calls and stoned-out flower people start showing up on the fringes of Carol’s life, the local lawman assigned to the case, Inspector Corvin (Stanley Baker), begins to doubt that things are as simple as they seem.

Fans who only know Fulci from his early 1980s splatter efforts (City of the Living Dead, Zombie, The New York Ripper) would do well to check out his second foray into the giallo subgenre (following 1969’s One on Top of the Other aka Perversion Story) as it shows the Italian icon to be much more than just a master manipulator of gore set-pieces.

From its hallucinogenic opening of Bolkan (Don’t Torture a Duckling) fighting her way through a passenger train walkway packed with naked writhing couples to the protracted Hitchcockian chase sequence through a deserted church’s various levels, we see that when given proper time and resources, the director was as capable of legitimate suspense, tension, and release as his contemporaries Sergio Martino, Dario Argento, or Mario Bava.

Fulci also proves a very capable screenwriter, crafting a serpentine plot that keeps introducing new information at key moments, constantly keeping viewers off guard and engaged. While we learn early on that Carol’s husband Frank (Jean Sorel, Belle de Jour) is having an affair with mutual friend Deborah (Silvia Monti, The Fifth Cord), the manner in which he is introduced as a suspect is quite ingenious.

Similarly, there are Julie’s trippy hippie companions who somehow also showed up in Carol’s dreams – has she met them before, and if so, where? More importantly, why are they suddenly so interested in keeping her from talking to the police?

There are also a number of idiosyncratic flourishes that could only have come from the mind of Fulci, such as the room of vivisected dogs at the local sanatorium where Carol is convalescing, or the persistent swarm of bats in the church belfry, or the helpful neighbor who saves the day by drawing a bead on potential rooftop assassins. Things like these may seem utterly random and/or convenient, but they feel organic to the bizarre proceedings, a testament to the anything-can-happen atmosphere that Fulci cultivates.

While the mystery’s resolution may seem a little too out of left field and/or pat for some, the generous array of red herrings and false paths that precede it more than compensate, especially with Ennio Morricone's hypnotic score guiding the way. Well worth tracking down.


Complete version of the feature, 104 minutes 11 seconds, with alternative English and Italian audio tracks with newly created English subtitles.
Audio commentary with Pete Tombs and Kris Gavin
"Shedding the Skin" featurette (with optional commentary from director Kris Gavin) (34 minutes)
"When Worlds Collide" with author Stephen Thrower (Beyond Terror: the film of Lucio Fulci) (30 minutes)
"Dr Lucio Fulci's Day for Night" with Lucio Fulci (30 minutes)
"From Burton to Baker" with actor Tony Adams (11 minutes)
Radio spots for the Schizoid release of the film
Alternative Italian title sequence
Original Trailers

A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is available now on Blu-ray from Mondo Macabro and can be ordered HERE:

SPECIAL BONUS: Watch the Kicking the Seat round table, recorded October 23, 2020 featuring Ian Simmons, Bryan Martinez, and Aaron “Dr. AC” Christensen HERE: 

No comments:

Post a Comment