A LIZARD IN A WOMAN’S SKIN (1971) Reviews and overview

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‘Biting, gnawing terror claws at your brain!’

A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is a 1971 Italian-Spanish Giallo thriller film directed by Lucio Fulci. The original Italian title is Una lucertola con la pelle di donna; it was released as Schizoid in the USA.

The movie stars Florinda Bolkan, Stanley Baker and Jean Sorel.

Ennio Morricone provided the film’s exceptional score.


Carol Hammond is a sophisticated politician’s daughter who experiences a series of vivid, psychedelic nightmares involving carnal encounters and LSD. The dreams turn into a nightmare featuring the death of her neighbour, Julia Dürer. The next day Julia is found brutally murdered in her own apartment.

The investigation, conducted by Inspector Corvin, leads to Carol’s arrest, however, she is released after a mysterious man confesses to Scotland Yard that he is the murderer. Not convinced of Carol’s innocence, Corvin continues to investigate the murder and unearths new disturbing clues … Did Carol really do it or is she being framed? Where do her dreams end and reality begin?

The scene in which Carol encounters the disembowelled dogs in the clinic became quite controversial because of the startlingly realistic (and graphic) appearance of the fake prop dogs. Director Lucio Fulci was nearly sent to prison because it was believed that the dogs were real. However, crew members were able to testify in court that the “dogs” were indeed fake and no animals had ever been harmed. Special effects artist Carlo Rambaldi even presented the dog props in court to convince the jury. This was the first time that an effects artist had to testify in court that their work was fake.

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Parts of the film were shot at Woburn Abbey and the then disused Alexandra Palace in Muswell Hill, North London.

“Lines between dream and reality are blurred on a regular basis, leaving the viewer appropriately bewildered. Various gory nightmare sequences are mixed with erotic dreams to create an unsettling contrast. And the suspense and mystery holds itself to the ingenious conclusion. All in all this Giallo comes highly recommended.” Blood Sucking Geek

“Forget the rather blatant silliness of it all, A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is a tremendous film. It is one of the finest examples of the Giallo genre available – a taut, clever and supremely controlled whodunit with enough lurid content (gore, nudity, demented characters) to keep even the most jaded Gumshoe hooked.” Sex Gore Mutants

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“The acting was average, the plot, more or less, original, the dialogue was acceptable if a little over the top. There’s nothing terribly wrong with the film and I’m sure people who enjoy this genre will find a lot to like here. But that distance, that unwillingness to let the audience get too wound up in what was going on, left me cold.” DVD Verdict

“The dream sequences are superbly surreal Freudian scenes too, the kind of thing you could only get away with in 1970, as are the party scenes with that mad Morricone soundtrack. Talking of scenes, if you’re a fan of vintage London, you’ll find much to love, especially with a chase sequence through Alexandra Palace and the usual landmarks.” Cinedelica

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