Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 13th, 2015
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
BluRay released: 2015
Approximate running time: 102 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Italian, DTS-HD Mono English, DTS-HD Mono French
Subtitles: English, French
BluRay Release: Le Chat Qui Fume
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: €25.00 (France)
Synopsis: 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, One on Top of The Other and Seven Notes in Black. 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 (Footprints), Stanley Baker, Jean Sorel (Belle de Jour) and Anita Strindberg (The Case of the Scorpions Tale). 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.
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 and with A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin he creates one the golden age of giallo’s finest moments that has to be seen to truly appreciate it.
A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin comes on a 50 GB dual layer (45.4 GB) BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Before this release Optimum Releasing’s 2010 DVD release was widely regarded as the best transfer this film had seen to date on home video. Considering that the source used for this transfer comes from StudioCanal the same company that supplied Optimum with their release. StudioCanal are also the company that current holds this film’s original negative. So it is not surprising that the transfer used for this release from Le Chat Qui Fum improves upon that aforementioned release in every way. Areas of biggest improvement include image clarity and shadow detail. Also there are no issues with DNR or compression and there is a healthy layer of grain throughout.
This release comes with three audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in Italian, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and a DTS-HD mono mix in French. All three audio mixes sound clear and balanced throughout. There are no issues with background noise or distortion and dialog always comes through clearly. And when it comes to the more ambient noises these three soundtracks all do a great job. Range wise things sounds as good as one would expect considering the limitations of mono. With that being said, Ennio Morricone’s score benefits the most from these uncompressed audio mixes as it always sounds robust. Also included with this release are these subtitle options, French (for the English and Italian tracks) and English (for the Italian track).
Extras include a English language trailer for the film (2 minutes 13 seconds, in English with French subtitles) and a French language trailer for the film (1 minute 21 seconds, in French no English subtitles), the English language opening and closing credits (4 minutes 57 seconds), extra footage (45 seconds), a image gallery, interviews with actress Anita Strindberg (13 minutes 8 seconds, in French with English subtitles), actor Jean Sorel (16 minutes 6 seconds, in French no English subtitles), author Lionel Grenier (21 minutes 31 seconds, In French with English subtitles), film critic Jean-François Rauger (21 minutes 19 seconds, French with no English subtitles), critic Olivier Père (26 minutes 6 seconds, in French with no English subtitles), filmmaker Christophe Gans (38 minutes 9 seconds, in French with no English subtitles), critic Alain Schlockoff (23 minutes 16 seconds, in French no English subtitles) and three featurettes, the first featurette titled ‘Les Vies De Lucio Fulci’ (13 minutes 54 seconds, in French with no English subtitles), the second featurette titled ‘Le Venin Des Censeurs’ (8 minutes 14 seconds, in French with no English subtitles) and the third featurette titled ‘Les Versions Du Venin’ (3 minutes 29 seconds, in French with no English subtitles).
Topics discussed in the interview with Anita Strindberg include, how a casting agent gave her photo to Fulci who then cast her in the film, Florinda Bolkan and their love scene, working with Fulci and how she now looks back more fondly on the films that she has appeared in.
Topics discussed in the interview with Lionel Grenier include, how the originally title of the film as going to be The Cage, how Fulci wanted a more surreal ending, Luigi Kuveiller and his contributions to the look of the film, the cast, the score and he also gives a well-rounded critic of the film.
The extra titled ‘Les Vies De Lucio Fulci’ is a retrospective of Fulci’s career with Lionel Grenier.
The extra titled ‘Le Venin Des Censeurs’ explores censorship and A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin. Once again with Lionel Grenier.
The extra titled ‘Les Versions Du Venin’ takes a look at the various versions of this film.
Other extras include a French home video release of the film sourced from a VHS under the title ‘Le Venin De La Peur’ (95 minutes 41 seconds, in French no English subtitles) and a CD that contains the film’s score.
Rounding out the extras is fifty two page over sized booklet filled with lobby cards, poster, stills and other promotional items.
The DVD included as part of this release is missing these extras which are included as only part of the Blu-Ray and they are as follows, the interviews with Jean-François Rauger, Olivier Père, Christophe Gans and Alain Schlockoff, the featurette titled ‘Les Vies De Lucio Fulci’ and the VHS sourced version under the title ‘Le Venin De La Peur’.
Packing and content wise, Le Chat Qui Fum have gone all out for this release which not only comes with three hours of extra content. It is easily the best this film has looked and sounded on home video to date. It should be noted that while it is disappointing that 2/3’s of the extras are not subtitled. This releases primary goal is towards French speaking customers and for those who are fluent in French this is an extraordinary release that is a must buy if you are a fan of Fulci or Giallo’s. For everyone else who is not fluent in French, this is still strong release that most importantly comes with a solid audio / video presentation.