It’s strange that some films are remembered more for a court case rather than the film it self. Lucio Fulci’s 1971 psychodrama murder mystery thriller, or giallo, A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is a ‘case’ in point. In a scene in the later part of the movie our main protagonist Carol Hammond opens the door to a room where there are dogs that appear to have been experimented on, they are cut open with their hearts and guts still pulsating. This scene was so graphic and realistic that several crewmembers were forced to testify in court to disprove a charge of using live animals. But it took the appearance of Carlo Rambaldi, the man who set up the special effect, to save the films director from a two-year prison sentence by producing the fake dog prop that was used. This was the first time in film history that an effects artist had to prove his work was not real in a court of law!
My first experience of Italian directors work was when Ian McCulloch came to the RBC Film Club in Dumfries to introduce Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979) probably Fulci’s best known work and famous for two scenes in particular. The first features a zombie fighting an actual Tiger Shark underwater; this was filmed in a large salt-water tank with the shark being fed horsemeat and sedatives before the filming began. The other infamous scene is where a woman has her eye gouged out on a splintered piece of wood very slowly and very painfully.
|The murder victim.|
A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is the story of Carol Hammond (Brazilian actress Florinda Bolkan) who is the daughter of an English politician. She experiences vivid psychedelic nightmares that consist of depraved bisexual orgies and the consumption of copious amounts of LSD. In a particularly intense nightmare she dreams that she murders her decadent neighbor Julia Durer (Anita Strindberg) whose late night wild sex and drug parties have been the main subjects of her hallucinatory type dreams. When she wakes next morning she find that the woman has been murdered and the police have started an investigation.
|The lovely Brazilian actress Florinda Bolkan.|
Although this is an Italian film it is set in England with some exteriors filmed at Woburn Abbey and Alexandra Palace, some of the dialog has been dubbed and some is in English and we also get the odd subtitle. As well as actors from various country’s we also have two well-known British thespians in the shape of Leo Genn who plays Carols father and Stanley Baker as Inspector Corven who has an irritating habit of whistling while people are talking to him! I would disagree that the ‘dog’ scene is the most upsetting; it’s the flying rodents in the form of bats that attack Carol and get tangled up in her hair that really gives me the willies. Still the fans of this genre get a grand helping of flesh and blood and the odd lesbian love scene. Known as Schizoid in America this is quite an interesting wee movie even taking into account a certain amount of corny acting and it’s wishy-washy soundtrack.