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Una Lucertola con la Pelle di Donna

A Lizard in a Woman's Skin
Carole / Schizoid / Le Venin de la Peur / Una Lagartija con Piel de Mujer

Italy/France/Spain 1971
produced by
Edmondo Amati, Renato Jaboni (executive) for Apollo Films, Atlántida Films, Les Films Corona
directed by Lucio Fulci
starring Florinda Bolkan, Stanley Baker, Jean Sorel, Silvia Monti, Alberto de Mendoza, Penny Brown, Mike Kennedy, Ely Galleani, George Rigaud, Ezio Marano, Franco Balducci, Luigi Antonio Guerra, Erzsi Paál, Gaetano Imbró, Leo Genn, Anita Strindberg, Tony Adams, Jean Degrade
story by Lucio Fulci, Roberto Gianviti, screenplay by Lucio Fulci, Roberto Gianviti, José Luis Martínez Mollá, André Tranché, music by Ennio Morricone, conducted by Bruno Nicolai, special effects by Eugenio Ascani, Carlo Rambaldi

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Carol Hammond (Florinda Bolkan), a rather buttoned up wife, stepmother and daughter to politician Edmond Brighton (Leo Genn), has recurring erotic dreams about her neighbour Julia Durer (Anita Strindberg), even though she hardly ever spoke to that woman. Then one day, she dreams about killing Durer, and wouldn't you know it, the next day Durer really does turn up dead, killed in exactly the way as in Carol's dream, and just like in the dream she was killed with Carol's letter opener and Carol's furcoat was lieing next to her. In fact there is so much evidence leading to Carol that it's highly unlikely that she had anything to do with it - at least that's what the investigating inspector Corvin (Stanley Baker) thinks. But when Carol's fingerprints are found on the murder weapon, he can't but arrest her nevertheless.

Now Carol's father starts some investigations of his own, and when he learns that Carol's hubby Frank (Jean Sorel) has an extramarital affair (with Silvia Monti) and that Carol routinely kept a dreamlog that was accessible to him at any time, he presents Frank as another tailormade suspect.

Carol is in the meantime out on bail, but is now pursued and almost killed by the hippie Red (Mike Kennedy), who has also appeared in her dream. She can only just save herself ...

Now Joan (Ely Galleani), Frank's daughter and Carol's stepdaughter, thinks that Red might be an excellent witness to clear her daddy for good, but unfortunately she sets out to look for him on her own ... and turns up with a slit throat the other day.

Then politician Brighton hangs himself in his office, but not without leaving a note confessing the murder - which would solve the whole case - but that's not good enough for inspector Corvin, who can't help but continue digging - until he starts questioning the statement of Carol's psychiatrist Dr Kerr (George Rigaud) - or rather starts suggesting that she had lied to her psychiatrist in order to get an alibi - and all of a sudden everything becomes painfully clear: She had a lesbian affair going on with Julia Durer, but when Durer started blackmailing Carol, she killed her, but instead of trying to remove all her clues she just made them obvious enough for everyone which would put her almost above suspicion - and it almost worked too, but only almost.

And her dad and his confession ?

He only killed himself to save her imprisonment, like any good daddy would - or would he ?

 

Later in life, director Lucio Fulci would attain fame and notoriety by making very blunt and in-your-face, but at times terribly effective zombie flicks, in the early 1970's however noone in Italy even thought about making zombie movies, and (concerning horror) the giallo (a very Italian form of a murder mystery often involving serial killers and some sort of madness) was the talk of town, of which Fulci - then not exclusively a horror director - made a few over the years.

And A Lizard in a Woman's Skin is actually a pretty effective giallo, full of tension and some brilliant suspense setpieces. And even though the plot is at times not really thought through and illogical (the giallo genre as such was never too strong on clever scriptwriting) and the film is not as stylish and glossy as Dario Argento's and Sergio Martino's best films, it's still so dilligently directed and well-filmed (especially the scenes where Carol's nervous breakdown is signified by shaky handcamera come to mind, and her being chased through a stadium by hippie Red) to totally make up for its shortcomings.

Definitely recommended.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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