Monday, November 17, 2008

Lizard in a Woman's Skin

This weekend, I revisited one of my favorite gialli, Lizard in a Woman's Skin:

I really had forgotten how good this film is, and how it is an example of this genre of Italian horror films with some of the best writing. Although I love gialli and am more often than not perfectly willing to overlook gaping plot holes, Lizard has a storyline that remains pretty tight throughout.

Also, visually, it is among the best-looking of director Lucio Fulci's films. I confess that I follow Fulci only up to a point, preferring his early '70s thrillers to the more gory, supernatural fare that followed (The Beyond excluded). The dream sequence that opens the film is gorgeously photographed, and doesn't have the cheap, effects-heavy quality that occasionally dream or fantasy sequences suffer from in fairly low-budget films of this era. Almost all of it was filmed on location in the UK (Mr. Bubblegum was excited to note that he'd actually been to a few of the buildings in some of the scenes).

Also bolstering Lizard's credentials is a top-notch score by Ennio Morricone. It's definitely one of the most psyche-rock outings I've heard from Morricone, although the title theme is quite pretty and atmospheric, and occasionally it wanders into experimental noodling territory, such as in the dream sequence.

There are plenty of other reasons to recommend Lizard in a Woman's Skin. The international cast (typical of co-productions of the period) features fine performances by Florinda Bolkan, Stanley Baker, Jean Sorel, and Leo Genn. Plus, there's great bits of trivia surrounding the production of the film, such as the anecdote about Academy Award winning-special effect master Carlo Rambaldi and how the dogs he created for the film landed he and Fulci in Italian court (the sequence in question is left out of versions of the film to this day).

Sadly, I purchased Lizard on DVD several years ago when Media Blasters released it as a two-disc edition: one disc contains a cleaned-up, but heavily cut print; the other is a longer (but STILL not uncut) full-screen transfer that looks like hell. Subsequently, a remastered full-length version (105 minutes, as opposed to the 95 and 98 minute versions on the DVD I have), was released, which I haven't made the effort to track down since the version I already own cost me about 30 dollars at the time. However, after this recent revisit, I'm thinking I might have to make the upgrade. That's only as long as the more recent edition contains the excellent featurette that my version contains.

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