Of all of the major names in Italian horror, Fulci is the one that has left me the coldest for years. I find most of his zombie films to be (maybe intentionally) cartoonish and, at their worst, convoluted and boring. And then I discovered his giallo work. He first won me over with Don’t Torture a Duckling and what became one of my favorite films of the 60s, Perversion Story, but his home run has to be A Lizard In a Woman’s Skin, a hypnotic thriller that oozes eroticism and visual finesse, putting Fulci in a camp very similar to that of Jess Franco. And now Mondo Macabro have released it in HD for us to all bask in the glory of.
Like Fulci’s best work, A Lizard In a Woman’s Skin is most fun viewed having no idea what you’re getting into, so I’m not about to spoil details of the plot. But I will note that this is Fulci at his abstract best. Not everything here makes sense or needs to. Dreams play a pivotal role and the intentions of each character should be constantly questioned. It’s a sinister, erotically charged giallo with set pieces that will be hard to shake for even the most jaded viewers. Naturally, the film was censored in many markets including the US where it was released by AIP as Schizoid (which is almost a spoiler of sorts), with the most excessive bits of sex and violence excised. Lucky for us, Mondo Macabro have released it here in its original uncut version with all of the steamy and gory bits intact, just the way that Fulci (and we) wanted it.
It’s also worth noting Fulci’s collaborators on this project. The cinematography is a stand out here, with deep blacks and bold reds being prominent. The man responsible, Luigi Kuveiller, is no slouch either having worked on titles like Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, Deep Red and the Paul Morrissey double bill of Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula. And the wonderfully strange, trippy score is from none other than Ennio Morricone and is well worth a listen outside of the film. But, make no mistake, this is Fulci’s film through and through and he makes that very known. Some may claim that it’s a case of style over substance, but here that style just becomes the substance and there’s no shortage of it.
Mondo Macabro’s Blu-ray is a revelation for fans of Fulci’s film. Not only is it presented uncut but the 1080p transfer is gorgeous too. Those aforementioned blacks and reds are deep here and the whole color palette is brightly rendered. Film grain is organic and inherent throughout with no noticeable reduction or otherwise tinkering present. The only issue in the video – if you can even call it that – is that in presenting the film uncut, a different source had to be used which shows a bit of a contrast when the gorier bits show up. The drop in quality is never drastic and its a small price to pay to have the film available uncut. Audio is in the form of English and Italian 2.0 tracks. The disc plays the English as a default and doing so does bring Italian audio in for the additional scenes. If this is too jarring, go with the Italian audio track. Outside of that, both sound great with good balance and volume. No distortion or other problems were noticeable. Fans should be very pleased with this presentation.
I never expected much in the way of supplements for this release so when I went to check and found such a wealth, I was pleasantly surprised. We start with a commentary by Fucli documentarian Kit Gavin. It’s a very analytical track, which contextualizes the film within Fulci’s career and aesthetic as well as details the various censorship issues. It’s informative, engaging and well worth a listen. Following that, we have a 30 minute documentary directed by Gavin titled Shedding the Skin from 2005. It’s sort of an overview of the giallo genre before becoming about A Lizard In Woman’s Skin. Gavin also provides commentary for the short too. Then we get a half hour conversation with Fulci about his career titled Fulci: Day for Night. This is a vintage piece that was made for Italian TV and can be quite dry but should be a fun watch for Fulci fans. For new video content, we get a half hour talk with Stephen Thrower all about the film which is edifying as usual, and then a 13 minute interview with actor Tony Adams. We round out the package with trailers and radio spots. There’s a lot of quality content here.
Mondo Macabro have pulled out all the stops on this release with A Lizard In a Woman’s Skin looking the best it has on home video so far and completely uncut, at that. Add to it a huge batch of supplements that are both entertaining and informative and you have a must have release for Fucli fans and one of the best releases of 2016 so far. Highly Recommended.