REVIEWED BY- STEVE GENIER DIRECTED BY- LUCIO FULCI CAST-FLORINDA BOLKAN, STANLEY BAKER, JEAN SOREL, SILVIA MONTI, ALBERTO de MENDOZA, PENNY BROWN, MIKE KENNEDY, ELY GALLEANI, GEORGES RIGAUD, LEO GENN and ANITA STRINDBERG. SOURCE-MEDIA BLASTERS/SHRIEK SHOW SE 2 DISC DVD R1 NTSC (2005).
I found it very hard to believe that this was one Lucio Fulci film that took so long to finally make it to the DVD format. Of course the anticipation run high once Media Blasters had finally made the official announcement of itís future release. Well, to tell you the truth I was middle of the ground mainly due to the past disappointments they had left with the thousands of fans including myself before. Still, I crossed my fingers and wished that this title they would whole-heartedly give the royal treatment it so deserved. Of course, one should always be careful of what they wish for. Then as time went on, Media Blasters first glimpse of the upcoming discís cover was the first installment of what doom might lay again. I was simply just turned off at the lack of creativity they had given to the cover of this classic Fulci giallo.
Still, though the disappointment was there, I kept with the faith that the material inside was the most important element. Then the bomb dropped as the final specs were released. The fact that the Italian print was only in full-screen with Italian mono. Well, the mono was to be expected but full-screen was another thing all together. Though it has been argued that there was in fact a relatively good enough wide-screen print out there of LIZARD to find and re-master for this set. The question though, if that print was in fact out there, why in the hell didnít Media Blasters track it down and use it? Well, in the meantime I still wanted to finally see this after the years of enduring a shot to pieces transfer I had of it from years ago. Maybe that is exactly what Media Blasters anticipated, for the general census to think exactly that. Finally, after almost two years of waiting, the disc showed on my doorstep.
INSIDE THE LIZARDíS SKIN:
Carol(Florinda Bolkan), a women on the edge of insanity, or at least one would suspect due to hear condition of repetitive nightmares that mainly dealt with her next door neighbor Juila (Anita Strindberg). Those same dreams about bouts of sexual interactions between the two of them, lesbianism rang loud, yet never really going beyond the tease. Then, with the one nightmare she has of killing Julia, Julia is indeed found dead. Did she in fact kill her, or was it just a weird coincidence? Or was someone out to get her, all of the following plays out in full force as it is established that she couldnít of kill her, the red-herrings pile up as the investigation moves forward. As time goes by, Carol begins to faintly remember little pieces, symbols or are they in fact reality. This is the strong aspect of LIZARD, the viewer is thrown into this deep ring of deception. Then the killer decides to bring Carol down as she is remembering too much and seeking out the clues on her own. The sad thing about this whole ordeal is the lack of any real help from those who are close to her. Her own husband, Frank (Jean Sorel) is too busy with hiding an affair that he is in the middle of. That is until the ladder half when her father, Edmond (Leo Genn) secretly is up to something, to try and piece things together only to get very close and commit suicide, or did he? The top of the red-herring heap is the two hippies ( Mike Kennedy and Penny Brown) who witness the whole event unfold in Juliaís house. The one-thing though, are they willing to take and if so at what price?
Certainly one of Lucio Fulciís most complete pieces of work, if not the most complete and not to mention one of his more controversial pieces for it's time. Especially with it's touching base with lesbianism undertones and most of all the vivisection of dogs that landed the production company a lawsuit. Of course this fuels the interests of those who have yet to see this wonderful piece from Fulci. Everything works for LIZARD, itís story, itís characters, itís atmosphere, itís score, everything right down to itís set pieces. Though this is co-production, and mainly Italian, Fulci gives LIZARD a very distinctive British fell to it. Primarily shot in and around London, it does stop just there. With the additional of several key actors such as Stanley Baker and Leo Genn, plus unique settings Fulci used for LIZARD, one would ask, whereís the Italian? The story is rich in plot, character development and steep in atmosphere. Giving the viewer a taste of Lucio Fulciís true talents as a director, he is much more then that gore maestro many have grown to love. His keen eye for casting is showcased with perfection here. From the lead of the lovely Florinda Bolkan to the sparingly used Alberto de Mendoza, they are play vital pieces of a greater puzzle. I must point out though, even though I will admit that all eyes were on the erotically sexy Anita Strindberg, it was Stanley Bakerís performance that really stood out in my opinion. His dry sense of humor and his stark discipline as Inspector Corvin really gave the story itís much needed sense of reality. Reality in the sense of where the line was drawn between all the nightmares and psychedelia generated from Carolís condition and point of views. Basically, his character gave the middle ground to most of the story. Everyone else seemed to be in this generated dreamland having a hard time waking up. Hey, itís what the story called for and you get it with precision.
Ennio Morriconeís score is pure brilliance for LIZARD. Rich and very steep in influences of the times. Yet, very dark and disturbing in areas where itís much needed. This is certainly one of my all time favorite outings of his by a long shot. Itís interesting too to see how every scene is complimented with each note and squawk from his instruments. Synchronized with sheer professionalism, something that has stayed with Morricone to this day. Fulci, not only wanted to incorporate and society of hippies and their influences of the day, he also brought in the perfect conductor to convey every note.
The specs for the disc say it all, but itís not until you actually see how either print showcased in the 2 disc special edition was never really given the time of day. Especially the full-framed Italian print of A LIZARD IN A WOMENíS SKIN, poorly presented, never really showing a hints of restoration at all. Even the SCHIZOID wide-screen print has itís moments of disappointment marred in nicks and graininess. Iím sorry if I seem so over baring with this, but when one has waited over two years for a title like this to hit DVD, you would expect something more then what you receive.
Disc one presents the US theatrical version of SCHIZOID , followed by the original LIZARD trailer and radio spots. There is also a long list of other trailers from Fulci outings such as THE BLACK CAT, TOUCH OF DEATH and more. The one thing I canít figure out with Shriek Showís promotion is the fact of having an Asian Cinema promo on this disc? Is it just me or would you want to have more Euro-Cult promos instead? Disc two begins with the full framed presentation of the Italian print of A LIZARD IN A WOMANíS SKIN. It is followed by what I would say is one of the most important aspects of the discs, and I might add the most professional additions of the whole disc, the featurette "SHEDDING THE SKIN" which is narrated by actor Penny Brown and directed by Kit Gavin. Featuring present day interviews with Florinda Bolkan, Penny Brown, Jean Sorel and Mike Kennedy. You are also treated to a total in depth visual essay on the behind the scenes of A LIZARD IN A WOMANíS SKIN. It runs just sigh of the 35 minute mark, it also includes snippits of with present day looks of some of the shooting locations, which is quite neat. This is exactly what the fans really want in a DVD, to be treated to an actual extra that gives you full satisfaction. The disc ends with a photo gallery. Still even though my expectations were high for this disc, and the results a little disappointing, all in all it is good to finally see this classic Fulci on DVD.
STORY-4 BITCH SLAPS PICTURE- (SCHIZOID 3 BITCH SLAPS) /(A LIZARD IN A WOMANíS SKIN 2 BITCH SLAPS) AUDIO- (SCHIZOID 3 BITCH SLAPS)/(A LIZARD IN A WOMANíS SKIN 2 BITCH SLAPS EXTRAS- 5 BITCH SLAPS ( MOSTLY IN DUE PART TO SHEDDING THE SKIN) OVERALL DVD- 3 BITCH SLAPS
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PLUS! A brand new interview with SHEDDING THE SKIN'S director, Kit Gavin!