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« Paranoiac (1962) heads to DVD and Blu-ray | Main | La Planete Sauvage (Fantastic Planet) released on Blu-ray »

DVD Review: A Lizard in a Woman's Skin (1971)


A film that's notorious for one particular scene, but if mad dreams, mad hippies, a psych-inspired Ennio Morricone soundtrack, a late 60s London setting and a good old whodunnit story appeal to you, you'll find much to enjoy in the remastered DVD version of A Lizard in a Woman's Skin.

Mad dreams? That's where we come in. The daughter of a respected politician by the name of Carol Hammond (Florinda Bolkan) is having some, involving walking through a train of nude hippies in a fur coat and a romantic tangle with her female next door neighbour Julia Durer (Anita Strindberg), a hellraiser who loves to throw a psych-soundtracked party for the local hippy community. She's so disturbed by the vivid dreams, she's been seeing a local shrink to talk them through, as well as writing them down. All of that will come in useful soon.

You see, she's had a particularly nasty dream, where, after the clinch with the neighbour, she ends up violently stabbing her, watching by two spaced out hippies. After a 'smell' comes out of next door, police discover the Julia really has been murdered, in pretty much identical circumstances to that dream.

Did Carol see the killing in a dream? Did she sleepwalk and do the killing herself or has she been set up based on those dreams? All of that will come clear over the following hour or so as police, led by Inspector Corvin (Stanley Baker) and assisted by Carol's lawyer father Edmond Brighton (Leo Genn), unravel the story and the evidence, coming to various false endings and one, surprising final ending.

Writer/director Lucio Fulci is usually associated with what are commonly referred to as video nasties, but aside from one scene involving supposed experiments on dogs (faked, but so realistic, it almost got the director sent to prison), this is pretty much your standard Italian Giallo flick that relies more on plot than bloodstained action. No bad thing.

It's an incredibly entertaining movie on many levels. For a start, the plot really does grab hold and leave possibilities for just about everyone to the final frame - from Carol and her father through to her husband Frank, stepdaughter Joan and the mad hippie pair of Hubert and Jenny, the most evil-looking hippies you're likely to encounter. You can second guess the real killer, but you'll be doing just that rather than knowing for sure.

The dream sequences are superbly surreal Freudian scenes too, the kind of thing you could only get away with in 1970, as are the party scenes with that mad Morricone soundtrack. Talking of scenes, if you're a fan of vintage London, you'll find much to love, especially with a chase sequence through Alexandra Palace and the usual landmarks. Interiors fans will also enjoy picking out some classic design in Carol's pad, not to mention the odd Francix Bacon painting.

The remastered version of the movie has a fine clarity and great sound, although there's obviously a couple of scenes that have been added from a subtitled Italian version. Key scenes too, so just as well, but you'll notice when those segments do cut in, especially with the change of language!

Overall, I have to say that A Lizard In A Woman's Skin (strange title - briefly explained in the movie) is a far better movie than I expected, certain to appeal to fans of leftfield late 60s cinema and of course, fans of the Italian giallo. Great plot, great visuals, great soundtrack - what more can you ask?

Find out more about the DVD at the Amazon website


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