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

4.0 out of 5

One of the earliest examples of the rare giallo fantastico, or gothic giallo, Lizard re-appropriates Roman Polanski’s psychosexual explorations of the ‘sick woman’ into the framework of the murder mystery. Rich with phantasmagorical imagery, Lizard allows director Lucio Fulci full reign to exploit the pathology of the unreliable narrator and finds him particularly adept at expressing the English dichotomy between repression and anarchy, embodied in a scene that contrasts Florinda Bolkan’s stifled dinner party soirées with Anita Strindberg’s orgiastic revels.

Unfortunately, the film suffers from two connected problems seemingly inherent in this particular strand of the filone, the shift away from the original audience identification figure in the final act and the abandonment of interesting psychological issues in favour of prosaic, rational motivations, resulting in an entropic effect that slows pacing to a virtual halt. Regardless, Lizard represents an original take on the giallo and abounds with extraordinary scizhodelic set pieces that are a testament to Fulci’s superlative craftsmanship.

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