A Lizard in a Woman's Skin (1971) Poster

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An acid trip by a much maligned director
chaosrampant5 January 2008
Even though Lucio Fulci's name is usually uttered in the same breath as those of Mario Bava and Dario Argento in "who's the best Italian horror director?" discussions, he's just as likely to be dismissed as an incompetent hack that couldn't direct traffic. "A Lizard in a Woman's Skin", like the rest of his gialli efforts from the 70's is solid proof of the opposite. Unlike other genre efforts that leave the viewer baffled with ludicrous plot twists and impossible endings, "Lizard...", convoluted as it may be, ranks among the most solid crime mysteries the Italian scene produced.

Of course that doesn't mean the final 20 minutes aren't bound to give you a headache as the plot unfolds its myriad twists and turns. Every character is a suspect. In turns Carrol, her husband, two hippies, Carrol's step daughter and her father. Yet all the loose ends are tied very neatly in the end. Beautifully staged gore, great cinematography and hot European babes shedding their clothes are other genre staples and "Lizard.." doesn't dissappoint, even though it's gore-lite. It certainly doesn't live up to Fulci's rep (a rep not entirely representative of his vast work, spanning many different genres from westerns to crime action and comedies), but I have no problem when the overall quality is so good. Coupled with a languid jazzy score by the maestro, Ennio Morricone, solid performances, intriguing set pieces and delirious dream sequences, Fulci here weaves a beautiful tappestry that will leave no fan of bizarre Italo-horror disappointed. And if anything, it just goes to prove that Fulci was a great director, even if his post New York Ripper catalogue may suggest the opposite.

Apart from the final 20 minutes, where the labyrinthine plot unfolds through remarkable detective work, the first sequence is great. It's Carrol's dream. She's pushing her way through a narrow (train?) corridor full of people, in slo mo, with an anguished look on her face. Suddenly the corridor is full of naked people (also known as hippies). Then she's falling into the void with darkness surrounding her. She lands on a lavish velvet bed, dressed in a grey fur, and makes out with the gorgeous Annita Strindberg. I haven't been thrown off so much by an opening scene since Martino's "The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh" (another great sleazy psychedelic opening). The rest of the dream scenes, including the murder, are all dizzying and off-beat.

Overall, this is a must see for giallo fans, Fulci fans that want to discover his other side and all the nay sayers. If possible, try and find the uncut Italian version. It might be full-screen but you get 5 minutes of additional gore and nudity.
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Premium early 70's giallo
Red-Barracuda15 December 2008
Yet another early 70's giallo with one of those cryptic zoophilic titles. A Lizard in a Woman's Skin is a very fine example of this most Italian of exploitation sub-genres and is possibly the best film that Lucio Fulci ever made.

This is an atypical giallo in that it only has one on screen murder to speak of. However, this murder is, to say the least, a memorable affair. It takes place as part of a very trippy and psychedelic dream sequence that features a train populated entirely by naked people, a malevolent giant swan, and grotesque Francis Bacon style dead people in chairs with leaking guts. In the centre of the dream is a lesbian liaison between Florinda Bolkan and Anita Strindberg (who has never looked better than here). The lovers embrace on a king-size bed draped in sheets of a deep red colour. When suddenly Bolkan drives a knife into Strindberg's chest. Her death throws are caught in orgiastic operatic slow motion. This is all accompanied by a creepy Ennio Morricone soundtrack. To put it mildly, this is magnificent stuff. Aside from this opening murder there is a scene later in the film that is not recommended for dog lovers (although seeing that this is an Italian movie I feel I should point out that these aren't real dogs folks, thank God).

Lizard – along with Don't Torture a Duckling - proves that given the right resources, Fulci was more than capable of producing stylish, suspenseful and highly polished films. Like a considerable number of gialli from the early 70's, Lizard benefits from the great pool of talent that was evidently working in the Italian film industry at the time; there seems to have been an abundance of great cinematographers, composers, set designers and wardrobe people, alongside some great directors and appealing actors (not too sure about the writers though!). This film displays a great deal of the aforementioned positives. There is great camera-work, including nice use of split-screen. Excellent photography of the interior shots of Alexandra Palace, that only serves to heighten the suspense of this sequence. The scene where Florinda Bolkan is trapped in a room full of bats by the killer and attempts escape via high window is replicated a few years later in Suspiria – I suspect Dario Argento has seen this movie. We have a standout score from Ennio Morricone. The main theme is a beautiful piece of orchestral music with a laid-back groove featuring breathy vocal accompaniment by the incomparable Edda Del'Orso. If anything, this main theme is criminally underused in the movie, although the rest of the soundtrack is great too, featuring, as it does, some wild psychedelic work outs too – Mondo Morricone! The interior décor and fashions are suitably, and agreeably, examples of early 70's Italian style that we know and love. Acting-wise Florinda Bolkan turns in a great central performance and she is ably supported by an ensemble that is a whose-who of Italian genre cinema of the time.

This is essential stuff for giallo completists. This compares very favourably with the best the genre has to offer. Fulci is most commonly associated with his later zombie splatter flicks but this film alongside it's companion piece Don't Torture a Duckling prove that he was a master of the giallo.
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Trippy Italian giallo.
HumanoidOfFlesh30 April 2008
A troubled rich woman Carol Hammond played by Florinda Bolkan is suffering from a series of bizarre sexual dreams where she indulges in lesbian activities with her neighbor Julia Durer(Anita Strindberg).Unfortunately one morning after another perverse sex dream culminating in a gory knifing of Julia,Carol is shocked to find that Julia was murdered in her apartment the stormy night before.When all evidence points to Carol being the culprit she must not only investigate the crime but determine what is dream and what is reality."Lizard in a Woman's Skin" is perhaps the most bizarre and puzzling Fulci's giallo.The cinematography by Luigi Kuvellier is splendid with some gorgeous visuals and the dream scenes are appropriately psychedelic.The eviscerated dogs sequence still shocks unprepared viewers drawn into the murder mystery aspect of the film.8 out of 10.
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The Perfect Alibi
Claudio Carvalho4 April 2017
In London, Carol Hammond (Florinda Bolkan) lives in a fancy building with her husband Frank Hammond (Jean Sorel) and her stepdaughter Joan Hammond (Edy Gall). Carol is the beloved daughter of the wealthy and prominent lawyer and politician Edmond Brighton (Leo Genn) and Frank is his partner in his office and has a love affair with Deborah (Silvia Monti). Carol's next door neighbor Julia Durer (Anita Strindberg) is a depraved woman that promotes parties with drugs and orgies. Carol has psychoanalyze sessions with Dr. Kerr (George Rigaud) and is intrigued with a nightmare where she stabs Julia to death three times with a couple watching the murder. When Julia is found dead in her apartment, the efficient Inspector Corvin (Stanley Baker) and his partner Sgt. Brandon (Alberto de Mendoza) are assigned to investigate. All the evidences point out to Carol, but was a dream or reality?

"Una lucertola con la pelle di donna", a.k.a "A Lizard in Woman's Skin", is a great giallo by Lucio Fulci. The story is complex with many twists and there are many suspects that might have killed Julia Durer. The conclusion is exceptional, with Inspector Corvin soling the case. Florinda Bolkan has great performance and is extremely elegant. The graphic dog scene is impressive and was necessary to prove in court that it was the work of the special effects. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Uma Lagartixa num Corpo de Mulher" ("A Gecko in a Woman's Body")
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First rate Fulci
The_Void19 March 2005
When people think of Lucio Fulci, it's always his gorier and largely incoherent efforts that spring to mind. Films like Zombie Flesh-Eaters and The Beyond, which are most definitely good films if you like that sort of thing (as I certainly do!); but they don't adequately portray the man's talent. If you want to see the 'great' Fulci films, you need to go back to his Giallo days with films like Don't Torture a Duckling and indeed this film; A Lizard in Woman's Skin. Fulci's first Giallo is a trippy thriller that excellently captures the laid back style of the swinging sixties and blends it magnificently with the thrilling pace that has gone on to epitomise the Italian thriller. The film follows a young woman (Florinda Bolkan) who dreams that she is having orgies with a hippy woman that lives downstairs. Events take a turn for the worse when the young woman dreams that she's killed the hippy, who then turns up dead; brutally murdered in her apartment, in exactly the way that the woman dreamt...

While this film isn't as brutal as some of the later Giallo efforts, Fulci succeeds in creating a foreboding atmosphere and manages to keep his audience on the edge of their seats. The plot line is rather strange, and Fulci makes best use of this through an excellent Ennio Morricone score, which firmly instills the trippy atmosphere in the viewers mind. The Giallo has come to be synonymous with brutal murders and lots of gore but, ironically, Fulci keeps his murders down a minimum and some of them even happen off screen. This is both a good and a bad thing as I, personally, like seeing brutal murders in Giallo's; but on the other hand it allows Fulci to keep the focus firmly on the central murder and he doesn't get sidetracked with lots of blood and gore, which does the film itself lots of favours. The mystery boils down to an excellent ending, in which the film is tied up nicely and we are treated to a great twist and some first rate detective work from the detective on the case. Highly recommended viewing and a must for Giallo fans!
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An early giallo that tops most of the others.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Lucio Fulci made better giallos than Dario Argento. I'm sorry, but this early classic is truly stunning. From the opening scene in the train, to the final twist at the end, it will leave your arm hairs standing at attention.

It's gory, it's thrilling, it's creepy and it's moody. It absolutely captures the early 70's psychedelic 'thing' without being cheesy. It's basically a psychological study of a woman who seems deeply troubled but, then again, may just be delusional. Until the end, we really have no idea which is the case, but when we find out, we're surprised. The plot is genius.

"A Lizard in a Woman's Skin" is a true must-see for giallo fans. It's a recommended-see for horror fans. It's a probably-should-see for gore fans. And it's a better-be-on-your-shelf for Fulci fans. Classic movie fans and critics? Stay away. This is a film that you were not born to GET and you shouldn't attempt to.

By the way, my favorite Ennio Morricone soundtrack second only to "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly." 9 out of 10, kids.
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Fulci's Best Movie
lazarillo26 October 2004
Although Lucio Fulci is most famous for the atmospheric and very gory series of zombie movies he made in the late 70's and early 80's, this early 70's giallo might very well be his best film. It has all the strengths of Fulci's best work--great cinematography, brilliant editing, and a powerful sense of atmosphere (although the decadent, garish portrait he creates here of "Swinging London" is quite distinct from oozing sense of dread he conjures up in the rural American settings of his zombie films). This movie, however, has two things his zombie films do not have: first, a script that is both genuinely suspenseful and that actually makes sense (rather than merely functioning as a means to tie various interesting scenes together), and, second, Florinda Balkan. It is hard to describe how good Balkan is here, but if you've seen her in "Flavia, the Heretic" or in the supporting role she plays in another excellent Fulci giallo "Don't Torture a Duckling" you'll know what I mean. There is some decent acting in many of the later Fulci movies, but nothing like Balkan's performance in this and in "Duckling".

And if you're the typical Fulci fan seeking a heavy dosage of blood and gore, you won't be disappointed. This movie offers a bat attack similar to the one he later did in "House by the Cemetery" which is less bloody, but much more realistic as it accomplished through clever editing rather than phony prosthetics. Then there is the scene with a half-dissected (but still living)dog which actually landed Fulci in court for animal cruelty! (Don't worry--it wasn't a real dog). Hopefully, when this movie comes out on (legitimate) DVD that scene will be restored to its full power, and this excellent movie will be appreciated for what it truly is--Fulci's best movie.
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Fever-Dream-Like Fulci Giallo
The 'godfather of gore' Lucio Fulci is certainly most famous for his gory Zombie flicks, such as "Zombi 2" (1979), "City of the Living Dead" (1980), or "The Beyond" (1980). Great films, of course, but, as far as I am concerned, his less widely known 70s Gialli are at least as memorable. Especially his 1972 masterpiece "Non Si Sevizia Un Paperino" aka. "Don't Torture a Duckling", easily Fulci's greatest film, ranges among the greatest Italian Horror films ever made, and outshines all his Zombie flicks in a heartbeat. This earlier Giallo-outing by Fulci, "Una Lucertola Con La Pelle Di Donna" aka. "Lizard In A Woman's Skin" (1971) is doubtlessly also a very intense, beautiful and creepy Giallo that impresses with a wonderfully uncanny, fever-dream-like atmosphere and a wonderful Florinda Bolkan in the lead. Yet I do not fully share the enthusiasm of some of my fellow Giallo-lovers, many of whom even seem to regard this as Fulci's best. While "Lizard in a Woman's Skin" is doubtlessly highly atmospheric and furthermore has an ingeniously convoluted plot, it does have its lengths, and, even in regards of atmosphere, it cannot possibly compete with "Don't Torture a Duckling", in my opinion.

Tormented by bizarre lesbian dreams about her seductive neighbor (Anita Strindberg), the respectable lawyer's wife Carol Hammond (Florinda Bolkan) regularly visits a psychotherapist. One day, Carol tells the psychotherapist about a dream in which she murders the neighbor. Shortly thereafter, the neighbor is actually murdered, in the exact same manner that Carol has dreamt of... "Lizard in a Woman's Skin" is a Giallo that delivers in almost all regards. It has a convoluted plot and certainly isn't easy to predict. The cinematography is great, and the generally creepy, dream-like atmosphere is intensified by another ingenious score composed by maestro Ennio Morricone (the orchestra is conducted by another maestro, Bruno Nicolai). The film has a great ensemble-cast, especially Florinda Bolkan is brilliant in the lead. Bolkan is very beautiful and a great actress, and her performance here is just great. Anita Strindberg is mysterious and seductive in her role. The rest of the cast includes prolific characters such as Jean Sorel (as Carol's husband), Leo Genn (as her father), and Alberto De Mendoza (as one of the investigating police inspectors). Even though there are only few killings for Giallo-standards, the film has some very gory scenes and genuine shock-sequences. The film is very suspenseful, but, as mentioned above, it is partly a bit confused and has its lengths in-between. All in all, this is a very good film, but I personally wouldn't call it Fulci's best. That title doubtlessly goes to the masterpiece "Don't Torture A Duckling", but the two films can hardly be compared due to the very different theme, style and setting. If there is one film I would compare "Lizard in a Woman's Skin" with, it is probably Sergio Martino's underrated "Tutti I Colori Del Buio" (aka. "All Colors of the Dark", 1972), due to the psychedelic atmosphere and the confused female protagonist (though I personally preferred Martino's film). "Lizard in a Woman's Skin" provides a wonderful 70s feeling, with hippie-characters, orgies etc. Overall, "Lizard in a Woman's Skin" is highly recommended to all Giallo-lovers, particularly those who appreciate a psychedelic atmosphere. My rating: 7.5/10
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Among Fulci's best
movieman_kev18 May 2005
Carol Hammond is having bizarre recurring dreams which she is going to a psychiatrist to find the meaning of. In her subsequent later dreams she finds herself killing her promiscuous nubile neighbor.when the aforementioned neighbor is then found murdered in real life with Carol's penknife found at the scene she becomes a prime suspect. Shriek Show dropped the ball with this one somewhat. With the shorter American "Schizord" version getting a better transfer, while the original Italian version is relegated to the second disc. It doesn't look as good and is in full-screen. It's great to own this at all, but I was somewhat disheartened. That being said, this is one of Fulci's best, if somewhat dated, Giallos It keeps you guessing, and is never boring.

My Grade: B

Anchor Bay 2-DVD set Extras: Disc 1) USA "Schizoid" version; Radio spots; US Trailer; Trailers for "Zombi 2", "City of the Living Dead", "Touch of Death", "House of Clocks", "Sweet House of Horrors", "Demonia", and "Death Trance" Disc 2) 98 minute Italian version, 33 minute "Shedding the Skin" documentary, and Photo Gallery 1 Easter Egg: go to the 'Scene access', Go to chapter 4, then press right, in the lower-left of the screen you'll see a highlighted bat.Press play for 2 deleted scenes.

Eye Candy: Florida Bolken, Anita Strindberg; various extras show boobs and butts
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Fine Giallo
Prof-Hieronymos-Grost28 November 2005
Carol Hammond(Florinda Balkan)lives in London and is the daughter of a very important Lawyer(Leo Genn), she is haunted by some very strange psychedelic dreams about her noisy and party loving neighbour, Julia Durer (Anita Strindberg),these dreams always contain drug fuelled sexual depravity ,and while she is seeing her Psychiatrist, she tells him of her latest dream in which she has Lesbian sex and then brutally murders Durer. Carol is reassured by her shrink that this is all quite normal, but when Durer is found murdered in exactly the same way as she described, Carol soon becomes the No1 suspect for Inspector Corvin(Stanley Baker),and when her fingerprints are found on the murder weapon and her fur coat found beside the body….well its cased closed?...or is it?....is Carol going mad or is she being set up?...Soon after being released on Police bail, Carol is hunted by some drugged up Hippies that she saw in her dream and soon people begin to die. Lizard is full of red herrings and endless plot possibilities, that adds to the mystery, its trippy psychedelic dream sequences fully capture the feel of the swinging sixties,add to that some gore as only Fulci can do and you have a fine Giallo….incidentally one particular gory scene involving dogs caused controversy at the time and Fulci had to prove in court on four occasions that the effects were fake. Lizard boasts an excellent cast, that also includes Jean Sorel as Carols husband but the film is Balkan's whose portrayal of a disturbed woman is excellent. Another Morricone score adds to the quality of the film….all in all a very interesting Giallo entry, that is very stylized and mystery driven.
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Not quite as good as Don't Torture a Duckling
bensonmum226 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
  • A mentally unbalanced woman tells her therapist about a recent dream involving her neighbor. In the dream, Carol Hammond (Florinda Bolkan) violently murders her neighbor. A few days later, the neighbors body is found. Suspicion immediately falls on Carol - her fingerprints are on the knife, her scarf is on the body, and her fur coat is on the floor. Was it a dream or did Carol really commit murder?

  • I cannot begin to express how long I've been waiting for this movie to be released. The street date was pushed back several times over the course of about two years. And, this my be the reason I didn't enjoy it as much as I had hoped. My expectations were ridiculously high. It would have been difficult for any movie to live up to the lofty expectations I had placed on A Lizard in a Woman's Skin.

  • Several things in the movie really worked for me. Chief among them is the ending. The last 20 or so minutes of the movie are a mystery lovers dream. Every single character comes under suspicion of having committed the murder. And there are plenty of suspects - Carol, her husband, her daughter, her father, the hippie, and anyone else who has more than 5 minutes of screen time. It wouldn't have surprised me had the police detective arrested himself. Just when you believe you've got it all figured out, the spotlight shifts to someone else. It's not until the very last moments of the movie that everything becomes clear.

  • Some things, however, did not work for me. The first third of the movie is incredibly slow. Other than the murder, nothing much happens. The time is spent on developing the idea that Carol is crazy. It's not very thrilling.

  • The new Region 1 DVD comes with two different versions of the movie. The cleaned-up widescreen transfer is actually the cut American version known as Schizoid. The second disc has the uncut version, only it's not as good of a print and it's foolscreen. The difference between the two versions appears to be about 5 or so minutes of added gore and nudity. So, beware before you buy.

  • While I enjoyed the movie, I didn't find it nearly as enjoyable as Fulci's Don't Torture a Duckling. But, it's going to take more than this viewing to make me a real fan. My expectations got in the way this time.
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Good giallo from Fulci
Bjorn (ODDBear)5 April 2006
Lucio Fulci's A Lizard in a Woman's Skin is a very solid giallo but not the best from him. Working with a decent script and some solid actors, Fulci creates a truly bizarre mood with some nifty visuals and makes for quite a unique viewing experience. The hallucinations/dream sequences are well done, creepy and suspenseful and set the tone for an original mystery that unfolds mostly well and peppered with some solid set pieces along the way, two of which involve mutilated dogs and an array of nasty bats.

Fulci is a talented giallo filmmaker, his films Seven Notes in Black (aka The Psychic) and particularly Don't Torture a Duckling show he can effortlessly handle murder mysteries with relatively straight forward narratives and create much suspense without his trademark gore set pieces that characterized his later nonsensical Gothic horror films. In most respects; Lizard is a simple murder mystery laced with dreamlike visuals and is made out to be more complicated than it actually turns out to be. It's well written and constantly keeps the viewer guessing up until the very end. The conclusion not only makes sense but is wholly satisfying and makes the viewer want to return to the film in the near future. Also, it's quite sexy, with regular giallo femme Anita Strindberg showing off her goods.

At only 90 plus minutes the film somehow seems a bit overlong. Some scenes feel rather long winded and overly stretched. Supporting actors are rather lame and the English dub is not very good.

Overall Lizard is an interesting movie which just shows even further that Fulci should have stayed mostly within the thriller genre. Argento he's not but a very good giallo filmmaker nonetheless.
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Fulci does giallo—badly!
BA_Harrison12 April 2007
I've tried to like cult director Lucio Fulci's films, I really have. I've seen his 80s gore 'classics' (House By The Cemetery, The Beyond, Zombi 2, City of the Living Dead, The New York Ripper), his later splatter films (Cat In The Brain, Touch of Death) and his one brief foray into crime thriller territory (Contraband); none of them have really impressed me. Now I'm giving his giallos a go; they're supposed to be good, aren't they?

Lizard in a Woman's Skin is a trippy hippy early-70s thriller which sees a woman accused of murdering her promiscuous neighbour. In typical giallo fashion, nothing is quite as it seems, until the final scene when the truth is divulged. Once again I believe that I am destined never to be a Fulci fan, finding the film rather dull and extremely dated.

With only a couple of murders, which take place off-screen. and plenty of scenes depicting boring police procedure, Lizard in a Woman's Skin is yet another disappointment from the Italian 'godfather of gore'.

In true Fulci fashion, the film manages to shock (most notably with a scene featuring several dissected, but still living, dogs; with their bloody organs and guts on display, these whining canines are very effective and are the highlight of the film), but it also bores.

And even when Fulci manages to occasionally impress, his hard work is blown with some truly awful moments. For example, during a chase scene in which a woman is pursued through a church by a knife wielding maniac, the tension so carefully built up by the director is quickly dissipated when the woman reveals her momentary hiding place—by resting on a switch which activates a huge church organ. And not much later she gives herself away again by screaming at the body of a dead bat. Duh!

I'm going to give Lucio one last chance at impressing me with Don't torture A Duckling, another of his giallos. I'm not expecting it to be great though!
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Delirious murder mystery filled with bat attacks, drug trips and disemboweled barking dogs.
unoness11 December 1998
This rarely seen Fulci offering brings to mind many comparisons with Dario Argento's earlier works.

A woman (Monti) dreams in slow motion of murdering her somewhat libertine neighbor and relates it all back to her therapist; some time later, her neighbor indeed turns up dead, and the details all match those in the dream. The police are called in, many red herrings are thrown in, and as the false resolutions arise, the police procedural turns into an unbelievably convoluted and confusing spiral. Two hippies, whacked out of their minds on LSD, witness the murder but make unreliable witnesses due to their state at the time. The line between reality and hallucination becomes increasingly blurred throughout the whole film, as the mentally unbalanced Monti tries to reconcile her shifts in perception.

The strength of the movie lies in the visuals, however; Fulci's wild camera work helps reinforce the sense of illusion throughout.

Ennio Morricone's score complements the picture's strange mood perfectly.

Fulci found himself in court over an unusually ugly scene of vivisected dogs (during a hallucination); his SFX man Carlo Rambaldi had to bring in the animatronic models of the dogs to get him off the hook.

At times it's a bit slow, but at other times Lizard in a Woman's Skin is a very wild ride indeed.
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A delirously entertaining giallo!
Jeffrey Wang19 February 1999
I've seen a lot of giallos, but Lucio Fulci's Lizard in a Woman's Skin is way up there with the best! Yes, it is unintentionally funny with its portrayal of hippies as murderous, drug-crazed psychopaths. However, what makes this film great is its delirious visual style, and its myriad, clever plot twists. Oh, and yes, it is suspenseful and scary. With its use of split screen and its naughty decadence, this film was obviously a big influence on the equally wonderful films of Brian De Palma's.
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It was her ego...
Warning: Spoilers
Though Fulci had flirted with violence before (1966's brutal western MASSACRE TIME and 1969's pessimistic medieval family drama BEATRICE CENCI), LIZARD represents his first venture into hardcore gore.

Intended as one of hundreds of cash-ins on the then-popular giallo thrillers popularised by Dario Argento's THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE, LIZARD isn't only Fulci's best movie by a mile - yes, I WOULD include in that statement THE BEYOND, ZOMBIE or DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING, all of which have slow spots that LIZARD doesn't - it's on an equal with anything Dario Argento ever did. Indeed, Argento's SUSPIRIA, the maestro's most well-known movie, borrows several touches and ideas from this movie.

Carol Hammond (Bolkan) is a born-into-privilege London woman who has a lawyer husband (Sorel), an aspiring politician father (Genn), and a lush flat in Belgravia. She also has a tendency to suffer repeated weird/violent/sexual fantasies concerning her slutty next-door neighbour (Strindberg). When the woman turns up dead in exactly the same way Carol describes to her psychiatrist (Rigaud) in one of her dreams, all the evidence points straight to her. But the smart Inspector Corvin of Scotland Yard (Baker) doesn't think the case is quite as simple as it appears. When a red-haired hippie, who was also an important part of Carol's dream, shows up for real, it seems that the good detective does have a point. Meanwhile, Carol's state of mind is worsening quickly, with dreams involving the rotten corpses of family members, swarms of bats, and a hostile giant swan...

Few films use London locations as well as this one does, and Fulci demonstrates a talent and virtuosity that he'd never achieve again, even though he'd work with much of the same crew on later movies. I won't go into how Fulci squandered his talent on absolute crap later on (his post-1982 career demonstrates very little that's of interest), but watching this side-by-side with something like AENIGMA or TOUCH OF DEATH, you wouldn't believe they were done by the same guy! Good acting helps also, with Bolkan's paranoid 'heroine', Baker's sarcastic chain-smoking detective, and Genn's stuffy father in particular standing out - it's a shame this would be one of the last movies for the latter two, both long since deceased. Sorel is under-used, as is Anita Strindberg, though Fulci has the good sense and taste to ensure she's naked for most of her role.

The gore is used sparingly, but it's extremely well-achieved (apart from this movie, Fulci's movies do tend to have very unconvincing gore FX), though most of it was snipped out of many prints of the movie, chiefly the entire 'notorious slit-open dogs sequence', and close-ups of a knife whacking into Strindberg's tit. So was a lot of sex and nudity, including a neat split-screen edit between a drug-fuelled orgy and a mechanically formal yuppie supper.

Other pluses include Luigi Kuvellier's exceptional camera-work, which showcases some great shots and angles, Vincenzo Tomassi's superb editing, and one of Ennio Morricone's best and most varied all-round scores.

If there are any flaws, they're only teething ones, but the film does maintain interest throughout and it's safe to say that everything that does happen in this movie has some kind of relevance. The last third does tend to bog down slightly, with a bit too much reliance on psychoanalysis and the disproving of alibis. But Fulci has actually created a genuinely effective suspense movie, and the dream scenes and chase through Alexandra Palace in particular, are among the best moments in European thriller cinema.

Even in its cut version released in the States, it garnished good reviews but was unseen for many years. For Fulci's true vision, only uncut and widescreen does the film the justice it deserves.
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a true masterpiece
Rabiddog8 December 2004
I first saw this movie about ten years ago. The movie was released in the French speaking part of Belgium as 'Le Venin de la Peur'. This is supposed to be the best version but I'm looking forward to the DVD release. This movie contains a lot of atmosphere, gore, nudity, suspense, amazing scenes and a fantastic Ennio Morricone soundtrack. He didn't had the special effects stuff of today but Fulci did a dame good job. The 'dogscene' is in my opinion one of the greatest scenes ever taken in those days although it's been cut in some releases. This is Fulci's best movie and maybe one of the greatest gialli ever made.

A Lizard in a Womens Skin is a 'one to watch' for the real giallofans among us.
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Vanilla Giallo
Jonny_Numb7 October 2007
(Second review: pertains to the recent DVD release that clocks in at 103 minutes--allegedly the most complete version available.)

To those--such as myself--who were weaned on Lucio Fulci's post-"Zombie" gorefests, looking back at his earlier work can be a jarring experience. Films like "Don't Torture a Duckling" and "The Psychic" show a filmmaker bringing a sense of macabre mystery to the mainstream; the same can be said for "Lizard in a Woman's Skin," his first foray into the 'giallo' subgenre...though the result is terribly disappointing.

It's hard to ignore the cue Fulci takes from Dario Argento, making an animal-themed (and relatively restrained) film in the footsteps of "The Bird With the Crystal Plumage." There are glimpses of the frenetic (almost invasive) camera tricks and stylistic techniques Fulci would mine with more confidence (and effect) in his gritty horror outings. While he stages an impressive extended chase through Alexandra Palace (beginning in the underground tunnels and finishing on the rooftop), piques our interest with a smattering of sex, violence, and psychedelics at the very beginning, and gives us a dog-vivisection dream sequence that foreshadows his later work (and is still gruesomely effective today), what lies in between is talky and largely uninteresting.

The plot is simple enough: Carol Hammond (Florinda Bolkan--"Don't Torture a Duckling"), daughter of a prominent politician in Great Britain, is afflicted with strange hallucinations that literally bleed over into reality when her next-door neighbor, Julia Durer (sexy Anita Strindberg) is stabbed to death. Meanwhile, Carol's husband Frank (Jean Sorel) is carrying on an affair with a family friend, and Carol's daughter-in-law, Joan (Edy Gall) is somehow involved with a bunch of hippie types who know something about the murder.

I consider Fulci's "Don't Torture a Duckling" one of the finer examples of a giallo done right--it wasn't so heavily stylized that it detracted from character or story, and at times invoked a sense of realism-through-restraint. "Lizard" is almost the total opposite--the characters tend to become dancing puppets within a plot that's constantly twisting itself into a pretzel; indeed, much like Argento's style-drenched films, the best method of viewing is to just drink in the look and feel of things, and wait for the inevitable Closing Revelation, in which all the convoluted plot points are explained. Yet "Lizard"--save for its experimental, color-soaked LSD scenes--isn't even that much fun to watch; taking place in a perpetually gloomy Britain, one feels Fulci stretching for legitimacy and falling short. The dialog scenes are endless to the point of tedium, and produce more confusion than intrigue.

In short, "Lizard" is required viewing for the Fulci completist, but otherwise not worth the bother.
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Director Fulci in a chameleon's skin...
Coventry6 June 2006
The more you see of Fulci's work, especially his older films, the more you have to acknowledge that this man was a very versatile filmmaker who deserves to be remembered for a lot more than just his gory zombie-movies! After having seen the stylish crime drama "One on top of the Other", followed by this wonderfully psychedelic giallo, it actually becomes difficult to believe that Lucio Fulci went on making so many eyeball-stabbing & gut-spilling gore flicks! The bloodshed in this film is kept to a minimum in favor of the complex but hugely satisfying story and a large amount of atmospheric set-pieces. Carol (Florinda Bolkan) is the happily married daughter of a rich and prominent politician, but she nevertheless suffers from mental issues and disturbing nightmares. In one of her hallucinations, she violently kills the sexy drug-addicted neighbor with a dagger. When the girl is found butchered exactly like Carol described it to her psychiatrist, she's temporarily homed in an institution while the police carefully observes her friends and relatives. Fulci creates as splendid early 70's atmosphere, with drug-parties, orgies and hippie-characters that could have come straight from the Woodstock concert. The great score and imaginative cinematography also contribute in making this a great example of the giallo genre, yet it are the very intelligent plot twists and red herrings that impress you the most. After about half of the movie, you think you figured out who the killer is, but then Fulci adds a couple more of engaging twists. The murder of the blond girl is quite uncanny and there are several more frights and icky make-up effects to find in Carol's visions, so even the gorehounds among us will be fairly satisfied. The denouement speech could have been a little shorter and not all the supportive cast-members give away equally good performances, still a GREAT film!
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An OK murder mystery or to give it it's proper name a 'giallo'.
Paul Andrews28 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Carol Hammond (Florinda Bolkan) lives in a wealthy part of London in a flat with her Husband Frank (Jean Sorel) and stepdaughter Joan (Ely Galleani as Edy Gall). Carol is an insomniac and lately has been having strange and totally bizarre dreams about her next door neighbour Julia Durer (Anita Strindberg) that involve lesbianism, long boots and a fur coat, and who in reality holds drug and sex fuelled parties that annoy Carol, her family and the rest of their neighbours. Carol has been seeing a psychologist called Dr. Kerr (Georges Rigaud) to try and learn the meaning of her dreams and help cure her insomnia. During one such session she talks of having a dream where she murdered Julia with a paper knife. Soon after Carol learns from a Mrs. Gordon (Erzsi Paal as Ersi Pond) that Julia has been killed in real life, exactly like the way it happened in her dream. Insector Corvin (Stanley Baker) and Sergeant Brandon (Alberto De Mendoza) are put straight on the case. Together with someone from the 'scientific squad'(yeah right, I've lived in the UK all my life and they aren't called the scientific squad!) called Lowell (Ezio Marano) they make a load of implausible assumptions, and the fact that it was Carol's own paper knife that was used to stab Julia, they come to the conclusion that Carol may be responsible, however Carol claims she has never even spoke to Julia before and denies the accusation. Carol's Father Edmund Brighton (Leo Genn) luckily happens to be a hot shot lawyer and takes on the case together with Frank whom works for Edmund. Meanwhile Joan and Carol set out to find a couple of hippies who were at the party that night, Jenny (Penny Brown) and Hubert (Mike Kennedy). Things turn even more mysterious and complicated when an attempt is made on Carol's life, and it comes to light that Julia may have been blackmailing Frank over an affair he is having with a woman named Deborah (Silvia Monti). Who is responsible for the murder? Who is trying to kill Carol? Will Corvin and Brandon get to the bottom of the mystery? Who knows? Watch it to find out! Co-written and directed by Lucio Fulci and known more commonly under the title of A Lizard in a Woman's Skin, I thought this was a pretty good murder mystery who dun-nit, probably one of Fulci's better films. The London locations are used well throughout, especially the sequence where Carol is chased through a church and onto it's roof, it was actually Woburn Abby that the filmmakers used for this scene. The film has good production design and values plus a nice atmosphere to it throughout. There's a surprising lack of gore and violence, just Julia Durer being stabbed. There's more nudity than violence with most of the female cast getting undressed at one point or another. The script by Fulci, Roberto Gianviti, Jose Luis Martinez Molla and Andre Tranche concentrates on Julia's murder and the subsequent investigation, it's not a slasher film where random people are killed for the hell of it so don't expect a high body count. Therefore it may be a little slow for certain tastes, but try not to let that put you off as it's overall quite a rewarding film to watch, and it certainly kept me watching right through to the twist ending. There are various red-herrings to keep the viewer guessing, just about everyone seems to have both opportunity and motive. One thing I would like to mention at this point is that I managed to guess the killer's identity quite early on, it was a complete fluke as I just thought about the most implausible conclusion and to my surprise I was right! Technically the film is fine, photography, editing, acting and music. I'm not sure if I would want to see it again in a hurry as the story obviously loses it's impact and it's surprises are no longer surprising! A good, well made, solid and entertaining giallo that I recommend to all interested in the genre, and it's a film that may appeal to a wider audience too. Give it a try, you might like it.
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Lizard in a Woman's Skin
Scarecrow-8823 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Lucio Fulci's "Schizoid" pulls you in so many directions you know you are watch a filmmaker at his finest point of his career. While I feel other later films were shoddily plotted and illogically unbalanced, this film is right on the mark in every moment. It takes a unique premise using dream logic, the mind's subconscious, blackmail, adultery, lesbianism, and a murder of a hippie socialite and Fulci weaves a web of unpredictability any giallo or horror fan would dream of.

The film opens with a dream from Carol Hammond(Florinda Bolkan)concerning her delirious trip through an orgy of naked people standing trying to flee but finding herself in the arms of a woman(the always luscious Anita Strindberg). As she tells this to her psychoanalyst, Carol seems to be ridding herself of buried desires in an attempt to "free" herself from the bondage of depravity. But, one such dream shows Carol murdering the woman and it turns out that this occurrence actually happens to the very next door neighbor for whom she speaks of. Soon Carol is the main suspect when the police and detectives find her fingerprints all over the weapon used(..not to mention, her fur was by the dead woman's bed). Little elements emerge, however, that might save Carol such as these notes she took moments after her awakening from the dreams. Another development shows that her husband Frank(Jean Sorel)had access to her notes, understood a point of entrance into the dead woman's pad, could place certain things in the dead woman's room that belong to Carol, and had a motive for seeing his wife put away for murder..he was having a two year passionate love affair with another woman. Another major development has two possible witnesses at the scene of the crime, one of whom actually chases Carol twice in attempt to kill her with a knife(in one inspired sequence, Carol raises the ire of a nest of bats in an organ loft as she hid from the one chasing her). Is or is not Carol the killer..that is the main question at the heart of this marvelously deranged, colorful, and thoughtfully designed giallo.

I'm a big fan of the use of dream logic and what lies within the human mind as it pertains to a murder mystery. Loving Hitchcock's "Spellbound" about an amnesiac trying to unlock key memories that will answer a puzzling mystery, Fulci uses the same general idea regarding dream logic but moving it in a bizarre, lurid direction.

This great movie yields one surprise after another as so many possibilities seem to unfold from what felt like a forgone conclusion. Thanks to Fulci and his collaborators, this film will shock you right up until the end.

In my opinion, Fulci's finest film.
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One of Fulci's best works
Sam Panico22 October 2017
If you were a well-to-do woman in Italy in the 1970s, chances are — based on the movies that I have seen — that you are about to killed, have killed someone, are having a lesbian affair, are on drugs or all of the above.

Carol (Florinda Bolkan, Don't Torture a Duckling) is one of those wealthy women. She lives with her father, rich lawyer and politician Edmund Brighton, husband Frank and step-daughter Joan (Edy Gall, Baba Yaga, The Devil is a Woman). Carol's been having dreams that cause her to see a doctor. It seems next door neighbor, Julia (Anita Strindberg, Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, The Antichrist) is having all night sex and drug orgies that at once repulses and excites Carol.

All sorts of rich people shenanigans are going on — Frank is having an affair with his secretary. And Carol may or may not be having a lesbian affair with her neighbor. Her dreams have become so intense, she can't tell fact from fiction. What worries her the most is that her latest dream ends with her stabbing Julia in vivid Fulci splendor while two hippies watch. That dream turns out to perhaps be true, as Julia is dead and Scotland Yard is on the case. The room and condition of the dead body match Carol's dream.

The hippies that she remembers from her dream don't remember seeing her kill Julia. But Carol's prints are on the murder weapon. As she waits for her trial in an insane asylum, one of the hippies breaks in and chases her. What follows is an infamous scene where she happens upon a room full of vivisected, still alive dogs. It's a dream sequence unconnected to the rest of the film, but it landed Fulci in prison. Carlo Rambaldi, the amazing special effects artist of E.T., Alien and more, saved the director from a two-year jail sentence by bringing the fake dog props to the courtroom.

Read more at http://bit.ly/2xfNe5K
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Spoilers follow ...
Nigel P19 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
How can there possibly be anything comforting about a giallo film, that cold, ruthless and brutal world in which 'Lizard in a Woman's Skin' is a shining example? Could it be the haze of nostalgia for the period in which such films were made, the lush and vivacious production values that belies the lack of a huge budget? Could it even be the game of spotting the actress uncomfortable with cigarettes playing the part of an awkwardly casual smoker? Whatever it is, 'giallo' is a fairly stylised genre that straddles murder/thriller/horror with much success.

Familiar British face Stanley Baker here plays Inspector Corvin. Baker gives his usual exemplary performance (Corvin's habit of – dubbed - whistling isn't convincing, however), despite this being a period in his life when his own financial challenges required him to appear in films that diminished his star-billed status. His son Glyn later described 'Lizard…' as 'a movie which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.' Stanley himself declared that he enjoyed everything he worked on, 'including the bad pictures'.

I love the look Director Lucio Fulci gives this. Trippy psychedelia contrasts with some very sombre, often rainy locations to great effect: the false sense of safety in the warmly lit indoors, fighting with the sinister frostiness outside. The comfort of sex against some truly disturbing, if not always convincing, special gore effects (a shocking sequence involving dismembered canines required the makers to prove no real animals were hurt at the time). These things conspire to transport the audience into a dangerous world that is rarely quite real, and all the more effectively unnerving for that. This dreamy, druggy atmosphere doesn't serve to make the complex plot any clearer, however! As is often the way, revelations come thick and fast during the latter moments, and whilst it is true to say that another viewing may well help me make total sense of developments, the finale is a visual tour-de-force and stays in the mind for a good while after the credits have rolled. A word too for Ennio Morricone's score; whilst it is a given that he produces some incredible melodious soundtracks, this has certain similarities to my favourite of all his works, that of his music for 'Maddalena (1971)'. Beautiful.
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Fulci's ultra-stylish giallo
Leofwine_draca17 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
An early effort from Italian goremeister Lucio Fulci, this slow-moving giallo has a really odd dream-like atmosphere to commend it. Despite being unintelligible and rather too complex in parts, for the main it's an intriguing murder mystery packed with suspects, red herrings, and a dogged inspector pursuing the case until its very end. Unlike most gialli of the time, there is only one murder here, but every facet of the crime is explored in full detail.

There are plenty of good points in this film's favour. Firstly, the wacky direction from Fulci, which has the camera darting all over the place. Secondly, a rubbery bat attack which comes out of nowhere and rips off a certain Hitchcock classic. Then we also have an imported Stanley Baker lurking about, whistling a little ditty constantly. He's a cross between John Saxon and Donald Pleasence in DEATHLINE - fantastic! The only thing missing in this film is the excess gore we've come to expect from Fulci - apart from the one bloody murder and an arm slashing, this is gore free, although there is a very disturbing moment involving vivisection. The acting is generally very good here, and a lot better than you might expect. Florinda Bolkan is very good as the confused, haunted victim and Leo Genn adds a touch of class to the movie.

Don't be put off by the slow first half, as things soon pick up in the latter segment. Okay, so at times they do get too complex, but there's a wonderfully tense chase which seems to last forever, plus about a billion different people involved in the crime at the end - and the motives are somewhat bizarre, to say the least. This isn't a brilliant film by any means, but I would recommend it to Italian horror/mystery fans as there are a lot of interesting bits.
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