Top critical review
2 people found this helpful
“But darling, nobody saw a hippie wandering in the park and you know they really did search the place.”
on 9 May 2016
Despite a decent cast headed by Florinda Bolkan, Stanley Baker and Leo Genn, A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is one of the ever inconsistent Lucio Fulci’s misfires, failing to summon up much in the way of atmosphere, eroticism or mystery despite a heady mix of sexualised dreams, insanity, infidelity and murder. Florinda Bolkan is the wealthy wife who is tormented about dreams of lesbian liaisons with her silicone enhanced next door neighbour Anita Strindberg who keeps half the block up with her regular sex and drugs orgies, ultimately dreaming of murdering her – and wouldn’t you know it, she turns up dead in exactly the same way with Bolkan’s fur coat and paper knife conveniently discovered by the body. Despite an open and shut case Baker’s constantly whistling detective is less than convinced because of the lack of a motive while her protective father, Genn’s wealthy and respected lawyer, thinks her husband Jean Sorel has been using her dream journals to set her up.
As a thriller it simply ambles with no urgency and not much interest in throwing in any twists until the last half hour, but it never manages to get much mileage out of the question of whether Bolkan is going mad or not in the meantime. The police investigation is woefully unconvincing: not only does it boast the screen’s least credible police station (it looks like the producers just rented a London apartment and put pictures of policemen on the wall) but Baker has no problem letting the neighbours in to the murder scene to gawp at the corpse. Some of the dialogue is atrocious, made all the worse by having some of the English cast members dubbed as well as the Italian ones. There’s a half decent chase in the last third where Fulci’s direction raises its game but surprisingly little gore for those looking for it, though the restored Blu-ray does include Carlo Rambaldi’s controversial but almost entirely gratuitous effects footage of living vivisected dogs that caused the films so many legal problems when it was mistaken for the real thing. For the most part it just plods along unenthusiastically and rather drearily making less of the elements than it should, making its growing cult reputation really something of a mystery. Fulci certainly made a lot worse, but this is definitely well below the standard of his better efforts like Don’t Torture a Duckling.
Disappointing as the film is, Mondo Macabro's region-free US Blu-ray offers a good transfer of the longest available version (also available on StudioCanal's UK DVD) and plenty of extras - a half hour making of featurette from 2003 with Bolkan, Sorel, Rambaldi and other members of the cast and crew (along with an audio commentary by its director), a half hour archive interview featurette with Fulci, a critical audio commentary and video appreciation of the film, three trailers, two radio spots and an amusing interview with Tony Adams recalling the difference between working with Richard Burton on Villain (who couldn't be nicer) and Baker on Lizard (who couldn't have made his contempt for the newcomer clearer).