61 Days of Halloween: Woman in a Lizard’s Skin (1971)

Introduction

An introduction to the concept of 61 Days of Halloween as well as past films discussed can be found here.

Woman in a Lizard’s Skin (1971)

Although, this was released through a Scream Factory four-pack (as Schizoid), I viewed it on a region 2 import I found at the Diabolik DVD table at a Monster-Mania Con.

The facets of this Lucio Fulci film that make it fascinating are as intertwined as the seemingly disparate, or unclear, story elements that come into focus as the film progresses. Starting in a dream sequences the way it does (a potently rendered one at that), which is languid temporally, but frantic editorially, makes you wonder at times if there’s design to the madness. Staying with it you find there most certainly is.

The camera, the film’s very eye, many times twists and jerks about like the tale but in the end always finds its target, always finds its purpose while reflecting the fragile mental state of its protagonist, while always probing deeper into the workings of her mind, until it finds order in the chaotic images that the film had unfurled until that point.

The detective work that is requisite in gialli does not feel like an encumbrance at all. Rather, much like them we are trying to piece things together and though we think we may understand at first the significance of a referenced prior case or the role certain dream figures we find we do not as the narrative turns on us.

When one gravitates towards Italian horror and starts to navigate it, one is generally made aware of the two most titanic figures in it: Argento and Fulci. Many viewers make it seem like you have to embrace one and scorn the other. I do not believe that is so. They both operate in rather different ways, but this title perhaps could be viewed as the closest to there being a stylistic overlap, certain tropes are similar: the approach to the narrative highly stylized, while the protagonist “witnessed” the incident in a dream, or fugue state early she (like us) is trying to make sense of what she saw, to identify the culprit, going in chase of them parallel to police activity, and independent of them.

Woman in a Lizard’s Skin may not be Fulci’s greatest work, but it is another great work of Fulci’s I was glad to discover.

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