A Lizard in a Woman's Skin

A Lizard in a Woman's Skin ★★★★


Wet dreams sprinkled with blood. Naked bodies grating against each other in a whitewashed corridor. Passionate kisses down your neck and the paper knife clutched in your hand. Three quick stabs and her wounds weeping the tainted blood of her existence. Morbid fancies coming to life – or real life melting into feverish hallucinations?

Either way, A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin finds Fulci at his most balanced, both plot-and stylewise. The maestro lets loose in the deranged fever dreams of his protagonist but grounds his story in reality by providing psychological explanations that clear up the hallucinations. He tunes up his deliberately messy camerawork to psychedelic heights and uses hyperspeed zoom-ins and bouncy cuts of an even faster nature between hunter and hunted to shoot the tension out of space.

It surprises me to say this, but the film plays out more in the veins of an Agatha Christie thriller than a conventional giallo – with more emphasis on unraveling the mystery than showing actual gory killings on screen. The mystery is cleverly spun in threads of logic that always seem one step away from being untangled; the suspects' motives are well-worked out & anyone could be the murderer. The end reveal is anticipated and yet jolts; it is no empty subversion made for shock value but the product of a logical chain of reasoning where each domino falls into place – quite an uncharacteristic feature for a Fulci movie but I'd be lying if it didn't give comfort to my meaning-obsessed mind.

While A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin might not have the sublimity of Don't Torture a Duckling or the nonsensical madness of City of the Living Dead, it seems to find the perfect middle ground within the Fulci-verse, cementing it as a quality entry in the director's chaotic filmography.

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