Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Lizard in a Woman's Skin (1971)

One of Lucio Fulci's most enjoyable movies, Lizard in a Woman's Skin tells the sordid tale of Carol (Florinda Bolkan), a wealthy barrister's daughter and respectable society woman with a disturbing problem: she keeps having wet dreams about screwing the hot bohemian chick (Anita Strindberg) in the flat next door during wildly surrealistic orgies. Admittedly, most of us wouldn't consider that much of a problem, but it becomes more so after Carol makes what her analyst considers a breakthrough by dreaming about killing the neighboring harlot, who then actually turns up dead. Damned Freudian psychology always makes shit worse!

Carol has other problems, including the fact that her husband Frank is screwing his secretary. Then she spots two hippies from her dream walking around London, chases them down, and finds they have no recollection of the killing. The police focus their investigation on her and she gets locked up, but soon there are hippies showing up to snuff her. Is there an evil conspiracy trying to ruin her life? Or is this a story about the psychological damage inflicted upon a woman by sexual repression and upper class hypocrisy? Maybe a little bit of both!

Lizard in a Woman's Skin is sort of Fulci's psychedelic mod mystery flick and two things help him here: the Swinging London setting, which allows for him to slip in his usual surrealistic weirdness, and the mystery plot, which forces him to stick to a coherent narrative. The Ennio Morricone score is great too, of course. I don't know that I'd consider most of Fulci's movies to be giallos, although this one definitely is; and I'm not actually a fan of most of his movies. Granted, City of the Living Dead holds a special place in my heart as the first horror movie my parents let me watch (at age 8! Thanks Mom and Dad!), but Fulci has an irritating tendency to shoot gore scenes with extremely long closeups that start to resemble the boring snatch shots in porn flicks. The problem with filming someone getting killed in slow, long closeups is you start wondering Why the hell are they just sitting there getting killed? Here, the gore is minimal and therefore more effective. There was a scene with some mutilated (fake) dogs that was a bit barf-inducing, but otherwise it's more like a real movie.

Even better, the LSD shenanigans allow Fulci to cram in lots of wacko style and filmmaking bravura. At one point, he pays homage to Francis Bacon's famous portrait of Pope Innocent X. At another, a trip through a crowded train becomes a crowded orgy! The hippie LSD party is a particular highlight. And you also have plenty of female flesh on display. What else could you want? (Maybe a bit less talking and police procedural stuff, but otherwise it's fun.)


  1. You know, I still haven't seen this one!!!

    The Beyond is still my favorite (up to now...).

  2. I love the Beyond, in spite of its spider attack scene being pretty goofy. Lizard in a Woman's Skin was a nice twist for Fulci.