Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (1971)

I asked recently if I’d find Lucio Fulci more palatable as a giallo director than a horror director. Based on this film at least, it looks like I might do; I found this a damn sight more engaging than Zombie Flesh Eaters or The Beyond. Admittedly, that’s only three Fulci films in total that I’ve seen so it’s probably not a fair assessment of his whole oeuvre, but that’s how it stands anyway. I must also admit to not being terribly au fait with the giallo in general (I never have really understood what separates it from the wider thriller/mystery genre, apart from the films being Italian), so it’s hard to appraise Lizard in those terms, but whatever. The plot is a suitably convoluted murder mystery involving a woman who may have killed her neighbour, or she may only have dreamt that she did, and if she didn’t do it then who did? Fulci does a pretty good job of leaving this question soaked in the fresh aroma of red herring until the end, and the whole thing amounted to quite satisfactory viewing for a wet and uninspiring Friday night. That said, as with those other films of his, forewarned proved to be forearmed; I wasn’t sorry I knew in advance about some of the gorier bits of those films and equally I was somewhat prepared for that scene with the dogs (albeit only somewhat) which got Fulci into legal trouble in Italy long before Ruggero Deodato had to prove the cast of Cannibal Holocaust were alive and well. Still, while it does take the film into mercifully short-lived “what the fuck?” territory, it may be a sign of the film’s general quality that it took a while for me to question exactly why a mental hospital would be experimenting on dogs anyway…

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