Lizard in a Woman's Skin

Austin Chronicle

DIRECTED BY: Mario Bava

REVIEWED: 06-22-98

This rarely seen Fulci offering brings to mind many comparisons with Dario Argento's earlier works, like Cat o' Nine Tails or The Bird With the Crystal Plumage, but has a less coherent narrative and is even wilder and flashier stylistically. A woman (Monti) dreams in slow motion of murdering her somewhat libertine neighbor and relates it all back to her therapist; some time later, her neighbor indeed turns up dead, and the details all match those in the dream. The police are called in (the familiar-looking Baker, who whistles an incredibly annoying little tune in every scene), many red herrings are thrown in, and as the false resolutions arise, the police procedural turns into an unbelievably convoluted and confusing spiral. Two hippies, whacked out of their minds on LSD, witness the murder but make unreliable witnesses due to their state at the time. The line between reality and hallucination becomes increasingly blurred throughout the whole film, as the mentally unbalanced Monti tries to reconcile her shifts in perception. The strength of the movie lies in the visuals, however; Fulci's wild camera work helps reinforce the sense of illusion throughout. Ennio Morricone's score complements the picture's strange mood perfectly. Fulci found himself in court over an unusually ugly scene of vivisected dogs (during a hallucination); his SFX man Carlo Rambaldi had to bring in the animatronic models of the dogs to get him off the hook. At times it's a bit slow, but at other times Lizard in a Woman's Skin is a very wild ride indeed. Keep an eye open for the extremely obvious ripoff of Hitchcock's The Birds.

--Jerry Renshaw

Other Films by Mario Bava
Blood and Black Lace
Lisa and the Devil

Film Vault Suggested Links
The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave
Tombs of the Blind Dead
The Gates of Hell

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