Sunday, 13 June 2010

Review - Lucio Fulci - Lizard In A Woman’s Skin

Lucio Fulci - Lizard In A Woman’s Skin

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8 out of 10

Fulci. Lucio Fulci. As much as his name is often mentioned in the same breath as Argento or Bava, he is also overlooked just as often for never having the consistency of others. In all fairness he has made some stinkers (Cat In The Brain, The Sweet House Of Horrors.) but then this is the man responsible for classics like The Beyond, Don't Torture A Duckling and Zombi II. Films which speak volumes about his skill as a director and writer.

Lizard In A Woman's Skin isn't quite up there with Fulci's more popular contributions to cinema but is certainly one of the better giallo's of the time and stands up well against anything else from said genre. On this evidence Fulci could craft a labyrinthian thriller dripping in atmosphere, menace, gore and 70's girls as well as anyone else.

Without giving anything away the plot involves a married woman, Carol Hammond (Florinda Bolkon) who is dealing with some very graphic dreams involving LSD, orgies and murder. She dreams about killing the free loving neighbour upstairs, but when the neighbour in question, turns up dead and a trail of evidence points to Carol she is left to work out what happened.

The plot at its heart is a who-dun nit in the classic sense of the term. Evolving with each new twist or suspect Fulci introduces. Sudden moments of graphic gore and violence are kept to a minimum. But when they do rear their blood drenched heads it's quite impressive. Swathes of red and his trademark lingering on the wound camerawork force these moments to stand out. One such scene actually involved the director having to defend himself in court over animal cruelty charges. It was only with a special effects artist testifying that saved Fulci from a 2 year prison sentence.

Florinda Bolkon is well cast and it's her believable confusion and terror that gives the film a lot of its momentum. Never more obvious than the tense chase sequence that takes place during the final third of the film. It's a superbly crafted and suspense packed scene that throws up many questions about the alleged killer while dispelling many more. Ably backed by an Ennio Morricone score that while not his best, gives the film a very at times sleazy and at others creepy feel. The support cast are various degrees of good and bad. Nothing that takes away from the film itself, you just notice how well Bolkon , Stanley Baker as the police inspector and Jean Sorrel as her cheating husband are cast when put up alongside the slightly stereo typical, swinging London hippie characters.

Lizard In A Woman's Skin is most certainly up there in the giallo genre, and most certainly as a well paced thriller it can't be beaten. As an entry point to the world of Fulci it's probably not the best example of his work. Stick with something else. As an example of a director who could ply his skills to other genres and craft suspense and terror packed films. It's certainly worth investing time in.

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