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(aka "Lizard in a Woman's Skin" or "Schizoid" or "Le venin de la peur" or "Una lagartija con piel de mujer" )

 

directed by Lucio Fulci
Italy/France/Spain 1971

 

Carol (Florinda Bolkan, FOOTPRINTS) has been having disturbing dreams of a lesbian encounter with her neighbor Julia (Anita Strindberg, YOUR VICE IS A LOCKED ROOM AND ONLY I HAVE THE KEY) who has a habit of throwing drug-laden orgies in her next door flat. Carol's psychiatrist (Jorge Rigaud, ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK) believes that Julia symbolizes Carol's unconscious envy of the woman's liberated lifestyle. When Carol has a dream in which she murders Julia (under the watchful eyes of two hippies) and the woman turns up dead in the exact manner, Carol becomes the prime suspect; but is someone trying to frame her? Could it be her lawyer husband Frank (Jean Sorel, PARANOIA) who is having an affair with Carol's best friend Deborah (Silvia Monti, QUEENS OF EVIL)? Perhaps Frank's teenage daughter from a previous marriage Joan (Ely Galleani, BABA YAGA)? Inspector Corvin (Stanley Baker, ACCIDENT) and Sgt. Brandon (Alberto de Mendoza, PERVERSION STORY) are on the case, Carol's judge father (Leo Genn) is eager to prevent a scandal even if it means drawing attention away from Carol onto Frank, and the two hippies from Carol's dream (Penny Brown and Mike Kennedy) are stalking Carol firstly with blackmail on their minds and then seemingly murderous intent.

Although not the gorefest that was his ZOMBI 2 (a hugely successful cash-in on George Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD which was known as ZOMBI in Italy), Fulci added some graphic gore to the formula he had already established with ONE ON TOP OF THE OTHER (another Italian/French/Spanish co-production which featured Sorel and De Mendoza - now on DVD in its "French version" featuring additional erotic footage but lacking several bits of expository footage seen in the English version). The titular LIZARD IN A WOMAN'S SKIN is a clue more in line with Argento's FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET than a BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE. Luigi Kuveiller's cinematography is beautiful (more so in the new transfer) but does suffer from a couple ill-chosen shaky handheld shots (he would team up with Fulci again on NEW YORK RIPPER). Ennio Morricone's score fits the giallo template (a rhythmic main theme with vocals by Edda dell'Orso, a gentle "love theme", and druggy, psychedelic jazz noodlings) but is also an outstanding example of his work in the genre. Carlo Rambaldi's mechanical bats convince more than the attacking swan (which one could argue is supposed to be fanciful as its image also appears in a painting over Carol's bed) but the not-entirely-convincing-yet-utterly-disturbing vivisected dog puppets got Fulci and Rambaldi hauled into court on charges of animal cruelty where they had to demonstrate the effects. Bolkan gives the standout performance (fumbling with a nude Strindberg, weaving through a sea of coupling bodies, getting terrorized by bats, chased through an abandoned cathedral and the corridors of a clinic to discover bizarre experiments) while the rest of the proficient cast are subject to the twists of the script but most of them already knew their place in the giallo template only a a few years in. Fulci followed up LIZARD and PERVERSION STORY with the fine gialli DON'T TORTURE THE DUCKLING and THE PSYCHIC (as well as the considerably gorier NEW YORK RIPPER following his zombie and gothic horror entries) but LIZARD IN A WOMAN'S SKIN has remained the most interesting of this subset of his career (partly due to the fine cast and partly its unavailability in the states due to the AIP rights situation and its availability only in cut form in Europe until the DVD era).

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 20 March 1973 (USA)

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DVD Comparison:

Optimum - Region 2 - PAL vs. Federal Video - Region 2 - PAL vs. Shriek Show (remastered edition) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Shriek Show (Disc 1 [U.S. Version]) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Shriek Show (Disc 2 [Italian Version]) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for all the Screen Caps!

1) Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT

2) Federal Video - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Shriek Show (remastered edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Shriek Show (Disc 2 [Italian Version]) - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT

 

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Optimum

Region 2 - PAL

Federal Video
Region 2 - PAL
Shriek Show
Region 1 - NTSC
Shriek Show
Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:39:33 (4% PAL speedup) 1:38:12 (4% PAL speedup) 1:43:44

1:35:30

Disc2: 1:37:48 (4% PAL speedup)

Video

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.18 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.86:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.53 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.84:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.5 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.81:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.41 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Disc2: Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Average Bitrate: 7.77 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

Optimum

 

Bitrate:

 

Federal Video

 

Bitrate:

 

Shriek Show (remastered edition)

 

Bitrate:

 

Shriek Show (Disc 1 [U.S. Version])

Bitrate:

 

Shriek Show (Disc 2 [Italian Version])

 

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono; Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

English Dolby Digital 5.1; English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono; Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

English Dolby Digital 5.1; English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono +

Disc2: Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

Subtitles English, none Italian, none English, none Disc 2: English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Optimum

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• U.S. Theatrical Trailer (4:3; 2:14)

DVD Release Date: 7 June 2010
Amaray

Chapters 12
 

Release Information:
Studio: Federal Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.86:1

Edition Details:
• Deleted scene (4:3; 0:24)
• Original Italian opening credits (4:3; 1:04)
• Interview with Fulci scholar, Professor Paolo Albieri (4:3; 34:00)
• La Censura e le Version del Film (4:3; 6:00)
• Cast & Crew Filmographies

 

DVD Release Date:
Amaray

Chapters 16

Release Information:
Studio: Shriek Show

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.84:1

Edition Details:
• Introduction with Professor Paolo Albiero (4:3; 31:00)
• History of the Film's Censorship (4:3; 6:13)
• Italian Credits Sequence (4:3; 1:22)
• Lucio Fulci Trailer Reel featuring ZOMBIE, LIZARD IN A WOMAN'S SKIN, DEMONIA, MURDERROCK,
• TOUCH OF DEATH, HOUSE OF CLOCKS, and SWEET HOUSE OF HORRORS.
• Trailers for HOME BEFORE MIDNIGHT, BAD INCLINATION, THE FLESH AND BLOOD SHOW, and COP KILLERS

 

DVD Release Date: 6 February 2007
Amaray

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Shriek Show

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.81:1

Edition Details:
• DISC ONE:
• Theatrical Trailer (4:3; 2:12)
• Radio Spots
• Lucio Fulci Trailer Reel featuring ZOMBIE, CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, TOUCH OF DEATH, HOUSE OF CLOCKS,
• DEMONIA, and SWEET HOUSE OF HORRORS
• Death Trance Promo

 

Edition Details:
• DISC TWO:
• Shedding the Skin (4:3; 33:45)
• Photo Gallery
• EASTER EGG: two deleted scenes


DVD Release Date:
Amaray

Chapters 12

 

Comments

Optimum's UK DVD is the first DVD presentation of the film to be sourced from the film's negative (in the ownership of Studio Canal). The transfer is anamorphic, progressive and single layer but the negative-sourced transfer offers a superior picture (you can now notice that the Carlo Rambaldi-built swan that attacks Carol in her dreams is present in a painting above her bed). The English title sequence on this version matches that of the Italian sequence with sliding/zooming credits and title card (the previous DVDs featured a different English credits lettering and title card). The English and Italian tracks are listed as stereo but they are mono (and just fine compared to the 5.1 remix present on both of Shriek Show's editions which only comes to life during the musical passages). The original Shriek Show 2 disc featured the cut U.S. version (supplied by MGM who owns the AIP elements for the US version as Studio Canal was apparently less than cooperative at the time) and the Italian version sourced from videotape (with 2 small deleted scenes as an Easter Egg from the French SECAM tape). The US version runs 95 minutes at 24 fps and is missing not only gore and nudity (along with some wavy opticals over some of the other nude scenes) but is also short some expository scenes (note that there is no equivalent cap 3 - part of an entire excisted 4 minute sequence - on the old Shriek Show disc 1 transfer).

 

The remastered Shriek Show disc from 2007 and the Italian DVD were composites of the AIP version and an Italian print source. While the remastered Shriek Show ported over the Italian extras, the transfer was not a simple port, it improved on the Italian transfer. The colors are also slightly different across transfers. The colors and contrast look best on the bulk of the Optimum transfer (the Italian color looks too pumped up while the remastered Shriek Show looks brighter than the Optimum but not pleasingly so). The UK negative-sourced transfer has been further augmented (by Marc Morris) with footage from other sources to make the longest composite (thus there are snippets that look inferior). The UK disc would run 104:20 at 24 fps which is 44 seconds longer than the remastered Shriek Show edition (once you subtracted the 8 second AIP logo on the Shriek Show disc). Peripherally, the Optimum DVD favors the offers more information on the right side of the image while the Italian and remastered Shriek Show discs offer a sliver more on the left side. Shriek Show's original disc provided a great documentary with several participants from the film and the Shriek Show reissue translated the Fulci scholar extras from the Italian disc while the latter provided English and Italian tracks on the composite with English subtitles.

While the old 2 disc Shriek Show is recommended for the documentary and pressbook insert, the Optimum disc is a worthy purchase not only for the negative-sourced transfer but also because the presence of the Italian and English tracks as well as English subtitles and the insertion of shots not present in the negative (the quality shift is not as great as seen on the Italian disc and the further improved remastered Shriek Show version) make the Italian and remastered Shriek Show discs less essential. A listing of the footage missing from both Shriek Show editions can be found HERE.
 

 - Eric Cotenas

 



DVD Menus
(
Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT vs. Federal Video - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE vs. Shriek Show (remastered edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT)
 

 

   

   

 

(Shriek Show (Disc 1 [U.S. Version]) - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Shriek Show (Disc 2 [Italian Version]) - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT)
 

 

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

1) Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT

2) Federal Video - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Shriek Show (remastered edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Shriek Show (Disc 1 [U.S. Version]) - Region 1 - NTSC - FOURTH

5) Shriek Show (Disc 2 [Italian Version]) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

Subtitle sample

 


1) Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT

2) Federal Video - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Shriek Show (remastered edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Shriek Show (Disc 1 [U.S. Version]) - Region 1 - NTSC - FOURTH

5) Shriek Show (Disc 2 [Italian Version]) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 


1) Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT

2) Federal Video - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Shriek Show (remastered edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Shriek Show (Disc 1 [U.S. Version]) - Region 1 - NTSC - FOURTH

5) Shriek Show (Disc 2 [Italian Version]) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

Scene not present on this DVD edition!

 


1) Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT

2) Federal Video - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Shriek Show (remastered edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Shriek Show (Disc 1 [U.S. Version]) - Region 1 - NTSC - FOURTH

5) Shriek Show (Disc 2 [Italian Version]) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM


1) Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT

2) Federal Video - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Shriek Show (remastered edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Shriek Show (Disc 1 [U.S. Version]) - Region 1 - NTSC - FOURTH

5) Shriek Show (Disc 2 [Italian Version]) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 


1) Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT

2) Federal Video - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Shriek Show (remastered edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Shriek Show (Disc 1 [U.S. Version]) - Region 1 - NTSC - FOURTH

5) Shriek Show (Disc 2 [Italian Version]) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 


1) Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT

2) Federal Video - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Shriek Show (remastered edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Shriek Show (Disc 1 [U.S. Version]) - Region 1 - NTSC - FOURTH

5) Shriek Show (Disc 2 [Italian Version]) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

wavy optical on US version (source for part of composite on Federal and original Shriek Show edition


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Optimum

Sound:

draw

Extras: Shriek Show (original)
Menu: Shriek Show (original)

 
DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Optimum

Region 2 - PAL

Federal Video
Region 2 - PAL
Shriek Show
Region 1 - NTSC
Shriek Show
Region 1 - NTSC

 

 




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