Lizard in a Woman's Skin, A / Una lucertola con la pelle di donna (1971)

4.5 out of 5

Florinda Bolkan is Carol, a woman troubled by erotic dreams of her neighbor Julia, who is known for throwing orgiastic drug parties. Carol keeps record of these dreams in a journal and in tape-recorded psychoanalysis sessions. After Carol dreams that she stabs Julia to death with a letter opener, she becomes the prime suspect when Julia is found murdered.

Lucio Fulci’s surreal giallo features psychedelic dream sequences, horrific imagery, stylish visual touches, stunning set pieces, and an effective jazz-rock score by Ennio Morricone. An abandoned cathedral is the setting for a highly suspenseful stalking scene, where Carol is pursued by a knife-wielding man wearing a motorcycle helmet. After being chased through the basement and upper levels, she hides in a dark room within the tower, until she is viciously attacked by bats.

There is minimal violence and gore, with the exception of a notorious scene involving vivisected dogs, which landed Fulci in court on animal cruelty charges. Effects artist Carlo Rambaldi had to produce the fake dogs in order to show that they were only props.

The film benefits from strong performances by Bolkan, Stanley Baker as Inspector Corvin, and a brief but memorable appearance by Anita Strindberg.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics