Director: Lucio Fulci
Shriek Show/Media Blasters

Troubled rich girl Carol Hammond (Florinda Bolkan) is suffering from a series of bizarre sexual fever dreams where she indulges in sapphic delights with her wild hippie next-door-neighbor Julia Durer (Anita Strindberg). However, one morning after another perverse sex dream culminating in a gory knifing of Julia, Carol awakens 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.

After Fulci entered the thriller genre with 1969's ONE ON TOP OF THE OTHER, the former sex comedy director found himself becoming more and more fascinated with the popular horror/thriller genre which was tearing up the box office. After the success of Argento's THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE, Fulci attempted a daring psychosexual thriller with A LIZARD IN A WOMAN'S SKIN, another giallo with an animal in the title (it would not be the last animal title for Fulci or the genre). Making up the cast is a treasure trove of Eurocult faces. The most familiar is, of course, Florinda Bolkan, who would work with Fulci again in DON'T TORTURE THE DUCKLING the following year. Bolkan always turned in brave performances in her films, and this is one of her defining roles. ONE ON TOP OF THE OTHER's Jean Sorel plays another philandering husband who may or may not be a suspect himself. Sorel phones in his performance here, but the same year would contribute a superb performance in Aldo Lado's SHORT NIGHT OF THE GLASS DOLLS. Appearing as Carol's stepdaughter Joan is adorable Ely Galleani, the blonde pixie from Bava's FIVE DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON whose career was sidetracked by graphic sex and drug use, like so many other Eurocult starlets. Leo Genn and Stanley Baker, superb British actors who spent the last years of their careers in several great European trash classics, are Carol's politician father and the police investigator, respectively, and give dedicated performances in a film which is a cut above the usual flicks they were appearing in at this time. As the hippies, Los Bravos lead singer Mike Kennedy (whose vocals on "Black is Black" would rock the 1960s hard) and musical theater star Penny Brown are given little to do but play menacing very well. Lenzi heads will recognize Carol's psychiatrist as Georges Rigaud, the suspicious reverend in the cheesy delight EYEBALL.

This is one of Fulci's most unique films for a variety of reasons. The several uses of split-screen (also seen previously in ONE ON TOP OF THE OTHER) are not typical of Fulci's visual style and are executed beautifully. Cameraman Luigi Kuveiller (TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE, NEW YORK RIPPER) creates eerie tableaus even when shooting on the less-than-foreboding streets of London. One inventive shot opens with the reflection of police inspectors on the eyeball of Florinda Bolkan before zooming back to reveal her entire face. A very bizarre scene has Ely Galleani being shocked by Penny Brown throwing paint-covered knives at a white wall behind her. The effect is like seeing a knife pierce the wall and its subsequent gory bleeding. Just another gorgeous visual touch by Fulci. Fulci's most frequent editor, Vincenzo Tomassi, has a field day with the trippy dream sequences and establishes many of the most suspenseful moments by frantically cutting from shot to shot to heighten the tension. And of course the superb soundtrack by frequent Argento-Leone collaborator Ennio Morricone is almost more well-known than the film itself. It bears a striking similarity to his later work for CAT O'NINE TAILS and supplies a pulsing beat to the nailbiting scenarios Fulci presents on-screen. Surprisingly, in stark contrast to most of Fulci's films, the most memorable setpieces in the film are not graphic murders of the characters. Instead, censors created a furor over the nauseating viscerated dogs sequence that still shocks unprepared viewers drawn into the murder mystery aspect of the film. Also noteworthy is the realistic bat attack sequence that left actress Florinda Bolkan quivering with fear in real life! The bat attack occurs in the middle of one of the most intense chases in horror cinema, with sadistic hippie Mike Kennedy following Florinda through dark tunnels and an abandoned church, violently stabbing her in the arm before she bolts herself behind another door. Of the Golden Age of gialli, this is not only one of Fulci's shining moments as a director, but one of the best examples of the genre.

Previously released in a two-disc special edition presenting two versions (one widescreen and cut, the other fullscreen and uncut), Media Blasters has revisited this very troubled title to create the ultimate edition of the film for the many fans demanding one. Two different source materials are combined, resulting in the longest version of the film ever released on home video! Not only is all the nudity and violence present and accounted for, but there are additional dialogue scenes presented in Italian with English subtitles that weren’t present on either version of the previous release! The 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer, as it is taken from varied elements, is for the most part sharp and colorful, with a few scenes displaying grain. The inserted footage is only noticeable for slight discoloration and print debris, otherwise fitting in flawlessly. Aside from a few brief print jumps, this is an incredible restoration job! From a company still notorious for its share of flawed releases, this LIZARD IN A WOMAN’S SKIN re-release is one of their shining moments, and belongs on every single cult film fan’s shelf post-haste!

Rather than port over the excellent “Shedding the Skin” 30-minute documentary, the wonderful historical booklet, the U.S. radio spots, or the plentiful stills gallery from the previous release, Media Blasters has opted to go with completely new supplements for this re-release. Two interview segments with film professor Paolo Albiero, who discusses his love for Fulci and shares some behind-the-scenes stories about Fulci and his work on LIZARD. The featurette discussing the edits to the film will be helpful to those who don’t know anything about Fulci, but fans will find it quite disposable. “Shedding” was reportedly not included because of limited disc space, but the two Albiero interviews could have easily been dropped to accommodate (the featurettes clock in at 37 minutes combined; the complete “Shedding” was 34 minutes). The original Italian title sequence and a Fulci trailer reel (different from the previous one, with trailers for ZOMBI 2, the American International U.S. trailer for LIZARD IN A WOMAN’S SKIN, DEMONIA, MURDEROCK, TOUCH OF DEATH, and SWEET HOUSE OF HORRORS) are also included. Apparently this disc was envisioned as a companion piece to the previous release, which suits me just fine but might upset a few wishing to dispose of the two-discer. In any case, this is the definitive version of the film and easily one of the best discs of the year so far! ***MUST BUY 2007***
(Casey Scott)