The Italian giallo film is renown for its striking images. Interestingly, in director Lucio Fulci’s A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, we see the infamous purveyor of gore composing some astonishingly beautiful shots.
Though most famous (or should that be notorious?) for his 1980s zombie films, the prolific Lucio Fulci directed films in virtually every genre, and his contributions to the giallo movement are arguably his most accomplished. Little more than a purveyor of schlock to the uninitiated, Fulci’s gialli are the work of a skilled and meticulous filmmaker, and arguably none more so than this psychedelic thriller set in swinging London, in which a high society barrister’s wife, Carol Hammond (Florinda Bolkan), is accused of murdering her promiscuous neighbour — and the subject of her erotically charged nightmares — Julia Durer (Anita Strindberg).
Perhaps the movie’s most impressive aspect, and a testament to Fulci’s skill as a filmmaker, is the way in which it uses its restless, often handheld camerawork, Ennio Morricone’s jarring atonal score and its for the time explicit sexuality and violence to mirror Carol’s increasingly unstable state of mind, blurring the boundaries between fantasy and reality.
Carol’s erotically charged nightmares are a particular standout, conveying the conflicting feelings of desire and revulsion she feels towards her promiscuous neighbour, and hinting at the dichotomy that lies at the heart of the genre as a whole with regard to its attitude towards sexuality.
Words by Michael Mackenzie from his Top 10 Giallo Films for the Beginner
Find out more about giallo films in our “beginner’s guide”