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October 03, 2006

A Lizard in a Woman's Skin


Una Lucertola con la Pelle di Donna
Lucio Fulci - 1971
Media Blasters Region 1 DVD

There are some people who are much more enthusiastic about Lucio Fulci than I am. I am willing to read serious evaluations of his work. I even saw The Beyond at a midnight show. While I was impressed by the final imagery of hell in The Beyond, I was also convinced that Fulci relied too heavily on eyeball gouging and not enough time creating a story that could transcend some astonishing gaps of logic. A Lizard in a Woman's Skin is a Fulci film that can probably be appreciated by those who normally place Fulci well behind such giallo specialists as Dario Argento, Sergio Martino and Aldo Lado.

I don't know how much credit should go to cinematographer Luigi Kuveiller, but there is greater care in the visual compositions. There is a nicely composed shot of a detective, Stanley Baker in conversation with Florinda Bolkan, while the statue of an angel bears witness. Bolkan, seen above left, has surreal nightmares about Anita Strindberg which anticipate an unsolved murder. The film is something of a Eurosoup hallucination of hippies, lesbians, orgies,LSD and bloody knives. The title comes from a comment one of the hippies makes about Bolkan which does not make much sense, but is in keeping with the moment when gialli was notable for having titles refering to animals.

While the narrative in primarily about Baker and company trying to identify a couple of murderers, and stop whomever is chasing after Bolkan, it is the dream sequences that are memorable. The film opens with Bolkan, clad in a fur coat, squeezing her way through a crowded train. The passengers are the normal group of people, Fulci cuts to Bolkan, still on the train, pushing her way through corridors of naked people before falling into a black void which contains a red bed. Fulci also distinguishes the film through the soundtrack, with a periodically atonal score by Ennio Morricone, and having Stanley Baker with audible tic of a whistle that sounds like the shriek of a teakettle.

A Lizard in a Woman's Skin will be screened as part of the Giallo Series at the Miami Beach Cinematheque.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at October 3, 2006 07:11 AM


Off subject here, but Stanley Baker starred in an interesting quasi/pseudo-Bond film in 1972 titled "Innocent Bystanders". I remember seeing it twice in the theaters, and still recall some scenes, making me wonder if it's held up at all over the years. (As far as I can tell, it's not on DVD or VHS.) His co-stars were Geraldine Chaplin (who has a lesbian S&M encounter in it) and Donald Pleasance as a secret service chief named "Loomis," the same name of the doctor he played in the "Halloween" pictures. During one scene in "Innocent Bystanders", as Baker and Chaplin drive in the countryside, Norman 'Hurricane' Smith croaks out a tune on the soundtrack, "What Makes the Man". Smith, as you recall, had a hit with "(Oh Babe) What Would You Say?" and produced the early albums of Pink Floyd.

Posted by: Flickhead at October 3, 2006 07:35 AM

I don't remember much beyond the title, but I also saw Innocent Bystanders, in a double feature with Argento's Four Flies on Gray Velvet. I remember Norm Smith a bit better.

Posted by: Peter Nellhaus at October 3, 2006 03:59 PM