When one utters the name Lucio Fulci, to anyone in the horror genre, the usual response, eyes widen and evil grins appears, as they recall the gory and sick classic creations such as The Beyond (1981) and Zombie (1979), but also grace the horror landscape with intriguing thrillers, excelling in artistic designs and memorable moments in filmmaking. This movie A Lizard in a Women’s Skin marks one of his earliest thrillers complete disturbing images, and delivers with erotic sensual imagery and a myriad of dazzling camera angles. It is a wonderful film for many to enjoy, and looking back to the maestro of gory delights seeing how it started and learning new techniques to attempt to pay homage to this man, that passed on in 1996.
Carol (Florinda Bolkan) enters into a darkened room and begins to have a bizarre sexual erotic encounter with her neighbor Julia, on a bright red bed and as the bareness of flesh appears, and she’s about to cross of society’s morality code against so-call taboos, Carol stabs her to death. Suddenly, she awakens in her psychiatrist office after telling him about these psychedelics sexually charged nightmares that contain a pair of mischievous looking individuals sitting high above her watching the display with intrigue. Soon enough the reality clash with her dreams, Julia found dead, but her father a prominent politician makes sure to protect her, and cast blame to her husband Frank (Jean Sorel) and known adulterer. However, this only drives the tale deeper into unsettling dreams, mirror fears and awakens other issues Carol has plaguing her psyche and that she takes on about 90% of the screen time, and provides a believable performance to convincingly intrigue the audience. The story never bogs down to worrying about little details and rather keeping the tempo positive and developing dreamy situations to splash before the viewers. A couple of interesting moments in the dream sequences rank this movie more to a creepy factor and actually shame the modern-day horror films of the lack of dream and nightmare scenarios such as a giant goose-squawking creature that might infer to the stork carrying babies. As the story continues to lead on with more twists and turns and layering in strange characters, including a homage scene to Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963), with reference to Tippi Hedren’s disturbing the birds in the room and his Psycho (1960) involving a shadowy figure. Then another scene echoing in the dreams of her struggle to travel down a narrow corridor of naked individuals while fully dressed, and some have suggested it represents a birthing canal as she proceeds forward to the viewer and vanish below their eyesight. These examples are just the tip of more perplexing nightmarish elements from this creative filmmaker, with a startling scene of Carol’s family sitting in an attic holding their own innards and starring oblivious to the bleakness of darkness. This movie really becomes a film for a psychologist and philosophy who wants to explore the paradoxes within surreal dreams, as Fulci keeps upping incredible freakish behaviors, that later mirror Dario Argento. However, the most offensive scene actually occurs at chapter 8 (on the Blu-Ray) with a scene which become quite controversial as it contained realistic disemboweled dogs, that cause Carol to pass out from the shock, although the scene adds in more questions, as to why it is there to begin with and no answers provide themselves to the viewers. Nevertheless, the inclusion almost had Fulci having a residence in prison for the crime of animal cruelty, it marked the first time that special effects artist Carlo Rambaldi presented the prop and how the movie magic worked to a jury to convince them of the fakery.
The common technique of then, included the split screen, and yet this director took other lesser known tactics and advance them, with distortion of lenses to disorient the viewer and have them experience a hallucinatory transformation in their minds. In fact, this movie used the now well-established technique from Sam Raimi finish known as shaky cam in extreme close-up to unsettle the viewers, putting them off-balance and creating a bond with them that they were part of the actual movie. This all successful comes from the work of the composer Ennio Morricone (who won an Oscar in 2016, after five nominations dating back to 1979), with enchanting scores that exploded with saddening depressive scores to cascading powerful string temperament similar of Bernard Herrmann.
Mondo Macabro, a well-known distributor of films in the home entertainment market, presents this well deserving Blu-Ray, for the fans of cinema and horror fans of Fulci, that balances everything perfectly with regard to colors brightness and richness and crisp audio for everyone to thoroughly to enjoy. The movie contains enough wonderment in the dreams and narrative to provide future filmmakers an endless supply of terrorizing concepts to explore and plague the viewers for years to come.
This film review originally published on Rogue Cinema, April 2016 issue with 1,892 views.
IMDb Rating: 7/10
Baron’s Rating: 7/10