Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (DVD)

Lizard in a Woman's Skin DVD (click for larger image)Starring Florinda Bolkan, Jean Sorel, Alberto de Mendoza, Stanley Baker

Directed by Lucio Fulci

Distributed by Shriek Show

Carol Hammond has quite a bit on her plate at the moment. Her husband is having lots of sex, except it’s with other women. A neighbor is a hippy, something Carol finds appalling. To top it all off, she is having bizarre nightmares about stabbing the hippy chick right in the tit as some other hippies watch. A little therapy could solve all these problems … rather, it would if that same distasteful neighbor hadn’t just turned up dead from slashing injuries. Will the police believe that her dreams are just a coincidence?

Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is a classic giallo film from Fulci. There’s enough nudity, bloody violence, and decadence to fill all the right quotas. But what makes the film work so well? Plenty of things. There is the whodunit detective story that has strong twists and characters just interesting enough to hold the viewer’s attention even when faced with bats on strings. Carol isn’t at all potent as a woman caught in a weird web, but other characters, especially the hippies, fill in the cracks. They do cause a few unintentional laughs but never become so distracting that one loses track of what is going on. A clever viewer could snap the pieces into place and find the guilty party quickly while others could keep chasing the wild geese.

Lizard in a Woman's Skin DVD (click for larger image)Those looking for a bunch of skin won’t be disappointed here, at least in the beginning. After the first half hour much of the sexiness and psychedelic imagery fades away, and the story almost becomes totally serious. It could be viewed as a flaw, but Fulci keeps things popping up that grab you back in; the chase scene through the renovated church comes to mind. The tension could have been enhanced slightly if Mrs. Hammond were more of a likable or sympathetic character, but hey, the world’s not perfect.

The killer’s apprehension at the close of the picture comes without a bang but with a very soft whimper. There’s no big chase, fight, or even drawn-out villainous speeches. A few naked free spirits running around would have been acceptable, too.

The special features come close to making this a great DVD. The interview with Professor Paolo Albiero is split up into two different sections. The first part is just Albiero speaking about Fulci’s experience and works in the motion picture business; it acts as Cliff Notes for the maestro but could have done with a longer look at his life. Following up Fulci’s past is a look at Lizard‘s censorship troubles. Depending on the region of the world, certain areas of the film were either edited or completely cut. One scene caused such an uproar that the filmmakers even had to wheel in props to show that the intense “dog scene” didn’t involve real canines. It is sad day when animal rights activists cannot tell the difference between fake dogs and real ones decades ago.

Lizard in a Woman's Skin DVD (click for larger image)The original Italian opening titles are just there. This should go over well with completists who have only seen the English credits. As for the “Psychedelic 5.1” … well, that was just kind of dumb. That stupidity is made up for by a long reel of trailers documenting many of Fulci’s other works. The reel would have been even better if the English dub had been missing. Something just doesn’t feel right when a little girl has the voice of a 30-year-old woman.

Perfect for another dip? Certainly. The additional footage that had been missing in previous releases should be sufficient to defend any Fulci fan coming back for one more DVD, and this is a perfect way to break newcomers into Fulci’s unique style.

Special Features
Interview with Fulci expert Professor Paolo Albiero
A history of the film’s censorship
Original Italian titles
Psychedelic (?) 5.1 Surround Sound
Fulci trailer reel


3 1/2 out of 5

Special Features

3 out of 5

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Mike Phalin

Mike Phalin is a contributing writer, reality television star and engineer.

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