Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 18th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, February 17th, 1971
Director: Lucio Fulci
Writers: Lucio Fulci, Roberto Gianviti, José Luis Martínez Mollá, André Tranché
Cast: Florinda Bolkan, Stanley Baker, Jean Sorel, Anita Strindberg
DVD Released: February 22nd, 2005
Approximate Running Time: 95 & 97 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and 1.33:1 Pan & Scan
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 and Mono
DVD Release: Media Blasters/Shriek Show
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.95
Carol (Florinda Bolkan) has been seeing a psychiatrist about the psychedelic nightmares that appear vividly real. In her dreams she commits a vicious murder that parallels a real life murder investigation that she has now become the prime suspect in. Her father is a respected politician who pulls a few strings to protect his daughter including pointing the finger at Carol’s husband Frank (Jean Sorel). Did she really commit these horrible crimes or is someone trying to frame her?
Lucio Fulci is most remembered for his gore drenched classics like The Beyond and Zombi 2. Most of his films from this later period of his career have been released on DVD while a few of his more prominent early works are still languishing in obscurity. Over the course of his career Fulci would only direct a handful of giallo’s Don’t Torture a Duckling, The New York Ripper, A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (these three have been released on DVD so far) with One on Top of The Other and Seven Notes in Black still waiting for their DVD debut. It is in the giallo genre in which Fulci excel most as an artist directing some of the best films of his career. Lucio Fulci would also work with Florinda Bolkan of another giallo Don’t Torture a Duckling.
Out of the five giallo’s Lucio Fulci directed each one has its own distinct style that sets it apart from his other entries in this genre. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin sees Fulci not only follow some of the traditional giallo standards he also spends an ample amount of time experimenting with his various collaborators on this film. One of the director’s most important collaborators is his editor. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin would mark first of nineteen collaboration’s between editor Vincenzo Tomassi and director Lucio Fulci. His rhythmic pacing for A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin adds to films dream like trance. Some of the credit of the look of A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin can be attributed to the films cinematographer who also shoot Dario Argento’s influential giallo Profondo rosso and Fulci’s delightfully disturbing The New York Ripper.
He uses many common techniques like split screen and wave like distortion of the frame that helps disorient the viewer. Fucli’s films have never been as colorful as his contemporary Dario Argento’s films. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is Fulci’s most colorful film that I have seen to date. It is hard to believe that A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is the only time that legendary composer Ennio Morricone ever worked with Lucio Fulci. The finished score in nothing short of perfect as Morricone employs to its fullest the sweet voice of female whose vocal pattern is more like a chant then actual spoken words. The rest of the score goes from melancholy heartbreak arrangements to menacing string arrangements that sounds like finger nails across a chalk board. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is one of Morricone’s most diverse and accomplished scores.
A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is blessed with a marvelous cast that includes Florinda Bolkan, Stanley Baker, Jean Sorel, Leo Genn, Penny Brown, Mike Kennedy and Anita Strindberg (making her film debut). Stanley Baker most known for his role in the film Zulu plays Inspector Corvin. His character has an unusual quirk in which he can be heard whistling through out the film. This little nuance helps define his characters personality and at times the whistling can become unnerving. My appreciation for Florinda Bolkan as an actress grows with each new film I see her in. Her performance is what the whole film hinges on and it is totally to her credit that this film works as well as it does.
Overall all the acting is extremely good and the English dubbed was also put together with a lot of TLC. Schizoid is exactly two minutes and twenty five seconds longer then the uncut version of A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin. All the cuts appear to be non dialog related and I have to wonder why instead of releasing two different versions that Media Blasters just didn’t integrate this footage into Schizoid. One key deleted sequences that involved the vivisecting of the dogs I found to be disgusting. The only purpose for such a scene is too shock the viewer and it is nothing more the just pure exploitation. Lucio Fulci is now receiving the acclaim that had eluded him his whole life. He was a diverse director who made masterpieces out virtually nothing. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is one the golden age of giallo’s finest moments that has to be seen to truly appreciate it.
Media Blasters Schizoid release is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 1.85:1 aspect. There is a lot of misleading information on the internet about this films original aspect ratio. This film was not shot is 2.35:1 like many have been lead to believe and 1.85:1 is its true aspect ratio. Overall the Schizoid transfer has a solid color palette with solid black levels that remain constant through out. Flesh tones look natural and grain is kept to a minimum. The main problem with this transfer is that is suffers from print damage that is evident in some scenes more then others. The main problem with this transfer appears to be due to the fact Media Blasters used to separate sources for their Schizoid transfer.
The second disc contains an uncut version of A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin that is presented in a cropped 1.33:1 aspect ratio. This transfer was sourced from a Beta master. Early on it is obvious that the image has been cropped as it feels claustrophobic through out. The image for this transfer looks soft and suffers from some mild color bleeding. Print damage also plagues this transfer and at times it does become distracting. There appears to also be some minor edge enhancement used on the Lizard in a Woman’s Skin transfer in hopes that it would sharpen up the already soft image. Overall the image is well below the DVD standards we have come to expect; still this release is the best this film has ever looked on home video.
For the Schizoid version Media Blasters has included two audio options a new Dolby Digital 5.1 remix and the films original Dolby Digital mono track. Both are sourced from English dubbed audio tracks. Both tracks are free of any hiss or distortion. The dialog is crisp and clean through out. Ennio Morricone’s score benefits the most on both of these tracks. At times the volume may need to be adjusted since the dialog isn’t as out front as the music score on these tracks. The Dolby Digital 5.1 remix is in the best shape of the two tracks and it has a fuller sound of the two.
There is only one audio option available for the uncut version of Lizard in a Woman’s Skin the films original Italian language track. At times the dialog sounds flat and the action sounds muffled. There are no noticeable problems with hiss or distortion. Removable English subtitles that are easy to read and follow have been included.
Disc one extras include the films original English language trailer and radio spots. Other extras include a lucio Fucli trailer reel that includes the following titles Zombi 2, City of the Living Dead, Touch of Death, House of Clocks, Sweet House of Horrors and Demonia. All these titles are soon to be released by Media Blasters or are already currently available. Rounding out the extras on Disc one is a promo clip for a martial arts/sword play film called Death Trance. Like many of their previous releases Media Blasters has decided to include content that has nothing to do with the release it is contained on.
Disc Two besides including an uncut version also includes an extensive photo gallery that contains several fleshy photos of the films two leads Florinda Bolkan and Anita Strindberg in nothing more then their birthday suits. This release’s main extra Shedding the Skin is an opens with a primer of the giallo genre before settling into a discussion with cast and crew about A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin. There are a lot of wonderful stories contained in the piece and I especially liked the moments when cast & crew reflect about Lucio Fulci. It is amazing just how many individuals connected with this film were found and interviewed. That in itself is cause for fans of Fulci and this film to celebrate. The Shedding the Skin documentary runs about thirty four minutes in length and it is the best work that I have seen to date from Kit Gavin & Mike Baronas. The documentary also ends with a perfect coda from actress Florinda Bolkan about the late director Lucio Fulci “It’s a pity he is not with us now.”
Besides lavishing this DVD with a wealth of extras Shriek Show doesn’t stop with the content on the DVD. Their cover art of Anita Strindberg’s bloody torso that shows off her exposed breasts is covered by a sturdy cardboard slipcover that slips over the DVD keep case. The cover harkens back to the sleazy exploitation films of the 1970’s while retaining the simplicity about its overall design. Media Blasters have also included an eight reproduction of Schizoid’s original press kit.
Media Blasters had originally announced A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin as far back as 2003. After few set backs the project seem to be lost in limbo before Media Blasters announced that it would finally be coming out in February of 2005. So after years of waiting for one of Lucio Fulci’s best and most elusive films to arrive on DVD was it worth the wait. This is question that can’t be easily answered since this release which is far from perfect is going to have its detractors. This DVD gives some Fulci fans the opportunity to finally see the film and contains some really cools extras most notable the excellent Shedding the Skin documentary. Which by itself is a must see if you a fan of the film or Lucio Fulci. The bottom line after years of delays could this release been better or is this best version we will ever see. Time will only tell.
Schizoid (Cut Version)
A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (Uncut)