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Carol Hammond (Florinda Bolkan), a rather buttoned up wife, stepmother
and daughter to politician Edmond Brighton (Leo Genn), has recurring
erotic dreams about her neighbour Julia Durer (Anita Strindberg), even
though she hardly ever spoke to that woman. Then one day, she dreams about
killing Durer, and wouldn't you know it, the next day Durer really does
turn up dead, killed in exactly the way as in Carol's dream, and just like
in the dream she was killed with Carol's letter opener and Carol's furcoat
was lieing next to her. In fact there is so much evidence leading to Carol
that it's highly unlikely that she had anything to do with it - at least
that's what the investigating inspector Corvin (Stanley Baker) thinks. But
when Carol's fingerprints are found on the murder weapon, he can't but
arrest her nevertheless.
Now Carol's father starts some investigations of his own, and when he
learns that Carol's hubby Frank (Jean Sorel) has an extramarital affair
(with Silvia Monti) and that Carol routinely kept a dreamlog that was
accessible to him at any time, he presents Frank as another tailormade
Carol is in the meantime out on bail, but is now pursued and almost
killed by the hippie Red (Mike Kennedy), who has also appeared in her
dream. She can only just save herself ...
Now Joan (Ely Galleani), Frank's daughter and Carol's stepdaughter,
thinks that Red might be an excellent witness to clear her daddy for good,
but unfortunately she sets out to look for him on her own ... and turns up
with a slit throat the other day.
Then politician Brighton hangs himself in his office, but not without
leaving a note confessing the murder - which would solve the whole case -
but that's not good enough for inspector Corvin, who can't help but
continue digging - until he starts questioning the statement of Carol's
psychiatrist Dr Kerr (George Rigaud) - or rather starts suggesting that
she had lied to her psychiatrist in order to get an alibi - and all of a
sudden everything becomes painfully clear: She had a lesbian affair going
on with Julia Durer, but when Durer started blackmailing Carol, she killed
her, but instead of trying to remove all her clues she just made them
obvious enough for everyone which would put her almost above suspicion -
and it almost worked too, but only almost.
And her dad and his confession ?
He only killed himself to save her imprisonment, like any good daddy
would - or would he ?
Later in life, director Lucio Fulci would attain fame and notoriety by
making very blunt and in-your-face, but at times terribly effective zombie
flicks, in the early 1970's however noone in Italy even thought about
making zombie movies, and (concerning horror) the giallo (a very
Italian form of a murder mystery often involving serial killers and some
sort of madness) was the talk of town, of which Fulci - then not
exclusively a horror director - made a few over the years.
And A Lizard in a Woman's Skin is actually a pretty effective giallo,
full of tension and some brilliant suspense setpieces. And even though the
plot is at times not really thought through and illogical (the giallo
genre as such was never too strong on clever scriptwriting) and the film
is not as stylish and glossy as Dario Argento's and Sergio Martino's best
films, it's still so dilligently directed and well-filmed (especially the
scenes where Carol's nervous breakdown is signified by shaky handcamera
come to mind, and her being chased through a stadium by hippie Red) to
totally make up for its shortcomings.