Thirty Hertz Rumble

A bl-g about movies, music and nostalgia by James David Patrick

Category: 31 Days of Horror 2016 (Page 5 of 6)

31 Days of Horror: The Bride of Re-Animator

31 days of horror bride of re-animator

31+ Days of Horror. 33 Horror Movies. 33 Reviews. Hooptober Challenges and Bonus Tasks.
View my 2016 Cinema Shame/Hoop-Tober Watch Pile Shame-a-thon Statement here.

Nature of Shame:
Love Re-Animator. Blind-bought Arrow’s limited edition Bride of Re-Animator box as a result.

Hoop-tober Challenge Checklist:
Decade – 1980’s


 

The Advance Word: The continued, hilarious antics of re-animated tissue. Stuart Gordon’s out. Brian Yuzna’s in as director.

#9. The Bride of Re-Animator


31 days of horror bride of re-animator

 

Do you remember in Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach when snarky, mechanical Matt McCoy took over the “straight man” role from Steve Guttenberg and we were just supposed to carry on and not care that it wasn’t actually Steve Guttenberg but rather a blonder, but still reasonable facsimile of Steve Guttenberg? I’m hearing a lot of blank stares, but trust me, Matt McCoy’s alright, but he’s just no Steve Guttenberg. (He is however an excellent Lloyd Braun.)

All the regular Police Academy pieces remained. Lassard. Hightower. Tackleberry. Jonesy. Callahan. Hooks. Harris and Proctor… but somehow without that Guttenberg/Mahoney glue that held everything together in perfect harmony through the first four films, Assignment: Miami Beach became a passable, but pale imitation of a Police Academy movie.

That’s paragraph best sums up how I felt about The Bride of Re-Animator, except in this scenario Stuart Gordon is Steve Guttenberg. You’re nodding in agreement, but the nod feels empty. Nonetheless, I’ll continue on as if you’re still paying attention and still agreeing with everything I’m saying.

bride of re-animator

Bride contains all of the necessary Re-Animator elements. First and foremost, its taste for the deliciously absurd combinations of random body parts. The eyeball hand really seems like it’d make a great pet… not so much the David Gale head with bat wings. Bride again embraced the oozy, gooey, gory squirts, drips and pustules. But the inclusion often felt like fan-service for the sake of the oozy and gooey. 

Despite needing waders to navigate the splatter, the original Re-Animator made the gore seem perfectly relevant and story-driven, not just standalone set pieces. Bride seemed to say “Here’s some gore. There’s some goo. Are you not satisfied?”

“No,” we’d say, “because that’s just gross,” noting the hypocrisy of the sentiment, but knowing that we wanted more sincerity.

More Guttenberg and less McCoy. More Stuart Gordon and less Brian Yuzna. Though maybe we’re expecting too much from Brian Yuzna, a filmmaker who’s never exactly proven himself entirely capable behind the camera. Admission: I’ve yet to see Return of the Living Dead III, a film some have cited as an exception.

bride of re-animator

The next issue is that Yuzna intended Bride of Re-Animator as a direct sequel, yet his characters barely know themselves. I’m not going to get into a point-by-point comparison of how these McCoys are not Guttenbergs but suffice it to say that Bruce Abbott and Jeffrey Combs might as well be completely different characters. So much so, in fact, that I’m forced to wonder whether this was an intentional decision to further emulate the ways that the Universal horror directors flippantly discarded continuity to fashion films from their own molds. As a result, those Universal artists often bettered their respective products.

Re-Animator and Bride of Re-Animator clearly borrow from the Frankenstein series, but specifically choosing to sidestep character continuity would be a terribly stupid stylistic choice. Especially when that choice turns Bruce Abbott’s Dr. Dan Cain into an extra from Gray’s Anatomy. Combs meanwhile takes his Dr. Herbert West so far down the mad scientist trope that he loses the glimmer of humanity laced within the original Re-Animator. He was always supposed to be borderline psychotic, but here’s he completely lost his f’ing marbles.

The result of all these not-so-subtle shifts is a real McCoy, a real Matt McCoy. A film that looks, acts and talks like the Guttenberg, but can’t duplicate Re-Animator‘s precise balance of gory effects, black humor and inquiries into what makes us human. Had enough of the Police Academy references yet? Of course not. Nobody ever tires of Police Academy references. If you are, you must be a real Proctor.

bride of re-animator

Technical Notes:

Arrow’s Blu-ray does every muscle fiber, bone shard and blood squirt justice. The “squishy” sound effects come through clearer than the squeamish might like.

Final Thoughts:

One might say The Bride of Re-Animator lacked a certain je ne sais quoi, but it’s pretty clear that Bride lacked merely the deft stitching of Stuart Gordon to piece together the necessary parts. The Frankenstein/Bride of Frankenstein source material had already done most of the arterial fitting, but hacking it up with Yuzna just didn’t cut it. I laughed. I cringed. But none of it felt quite right.

 

30Hz Movie Rating:

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bride-of-re-animatorBlu-ray Verdict: 
The extras on this exquisite box set coupled with the transfer and multiple cuts of the film make it a worthy addition to a completist’s collection. I just so happen to be a completist that loves Re-Animator.

Availability: Arrow’s magnificent 3-disc Limited Edition and 2-disc Special Edition can be found wherever fine Arrow releases are sold. This linky goes to Amazon. 

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Earlier 2016 31 Days of Horror entries: #1. Vampyros Lesbos / #2. A Chinese Ghost Story / #3. The Haunting of Morella / #4. Delirium (1972) / #5. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin / #6. She-Wolf of London / #7. Son of Frankenstein / #8. Killerfish

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31 Days of Horror: Killerfish

killer fish 1979 31 days of horror

31+ Days of Horror. 33 Horror Movies. 33 Reviews. Hooptober Challenges and Bonus Tasks.
View my 2016 Cinema Shame/Hoop-Tober Watch Pile Shame-a-thon Statement here.

Nature of Shame:
Overpriced B-movie impulse buy cluttering my watch pile.

Hoop-tober Challenge Checklist:
Decade – 1970’s
Crazy Animal Movie


 

The Advance Word: Fish that kill. They’re killer fish. And the 6 Million Dollar Man is going to stop them.

#8. Killerfish


lee majors killer fish

Have you ever wanted to watch a movie about “killer fish” that involves the most awkward sequences of staring off camera and almost zero instances of curmudgeonly fish let alone killer fish? Then, boy howdy, do I have the movie for you. I could write a review about this movie, but I think I’ll just let a few images speak for themselves. Lee Majors is no slouch, by the way. He runs around and speaks with great purpose. Either he was drunk or desperately trying to keep this movie on the rails with super powers of seriousness. Antonio Margheriti knows his way around B-movie genre conventions, but the director seems incapable of shepherding his actors in any specific direction. Direction lost in translation, perhaps.

killer_fish1

Margaux Hemingway and Lee Majors warming up their awkwardness with a few eye-location exercises.

If I had to crown the ultimate champion of staring awkwardly, I would give that crown to Margaux Hemingway who has as many different awkward glances as the eskimos have words for snow. The only person to compete with Margaux was Karen Black, who vacillated between the “I’ll swallow your soul if you toss me any more side-eye” and the “I have to poop a chimney.” I commend Karen for her precision and intensity, but I’ll take quantity and variety in this contest.

karen black killer fish

Karen Black prepares to swallow someones soul.

Before I became obsessed with the ways the characters stared off camera (and honestly this activity consumed my attention to the last hour of the film), I noted that this backgammon board resembled piranha teeth. (I’d go back and get decent shots of these things, but goddamn I don’t want to spend any more time on this particular review than I have to.) But I thought that the toothy-looking board seemed like a really cool visual motif. Alas.

killer fish backgammon board

The toothy backgammon board represented an early glimmer of hope that I had chosen a competent horror film.

Killerfish spends so much time indulging in some explosion fetish that it forgets to show the titular fish. So when people start getting consumed by these unseen piranhas, the viewer never senses any gravitas to these deaths. The victims are either awful humans, incompetent humans or annoying humans. Roger Corman’s Piranha, while not a great example of building tension, comprehends the thrill of showing actual piranhas. Gnashing teeth, creepy swarming fishy noises. But then again, despite the title, the movie wasn’t even about the fish at all.

The film even acknowledges the lack of horror tropes through some self-reflexive dialogue. One of the more dramatic characters in the film says, while mired in the middle of a rainforest: “We need something dramatic. Maybe a little chiaroscuro.” Agreed on all counts. Acknowledging, however, that your film lacks excitement or craft doesn’t make it okay. Does it? Discuss amongst yourselves.

Final Thoughts:

Killerfish tries to build tension by not showing the budgetary limitations imposed upon their monsters. I say “apparently” because tension of any kind only manifests in minor keys and miniature blink-and-you-miss-em crescendos. We’re left with a movie that doesn’t build tension, a creature movie that doesn’t show its creatures, and a B-movie cast that inadvertently entertains as a result of the actors’ incompatibility and tactless gazing.

Killerfish‘s appeal lies not as a horror film, but as an action-adventure film with piranhas standing between double-crossing thieves and a priceless emerald cache. With a proper frame of reference, maybe Killerfish works as some variety of campy nostalgia. Casting better actors in the primary roles would have gone a long way towards legitimacy. I’m not suggesting the film required “good” actors — just better actors. And more examples of perturbed fish.

killerfish 31 days of horror

Eventually, yes, people get eaten.

Technical Notes:

Killerfish arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Scorpion DVD. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all in favor of unearthing these lost B-movie treasures, but I’m also conflicted because people with ample resources spend time and energy restoring and preserving films like this rather than something with, I dunno, a little more teeth. The movie looks great. (Yay!) But also, why? WHY DOES KILLER FISH LOOK LIKE A MILLION BUCKS?

Final Thoughts:

awkward glare michael bluth

30Hz Rating:

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killerfish blu-ray 31 days of horrorBlu-ray Verdict:
 Definitely pick this up for your next Awkward Stare Drinking Game. Pace yourself. Godspeed. I’ve got a copy for you, actually.

Availability: Scorpion DVD’s release of Killerfish can be purchased at Amazon. 

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Earlier 31 Days of Horror entries: #1. Vampyros Lesbos / #2. A Chinese Ghost Story / #3. The Haunting of Morella / #4. Delirium (1972) / #5. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin / #6. She-Wolf of London / #7. Son of Frankenstein

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31 Days of Horror: Son of Frankenstein

son of frankenstein 31 days of horror

31+ Days of Horror. 33 Horror Movies. 33 Reviews. Hooptober Challenges and Bonus Tasks.
View my 2016 Cinema Shame/Hoop-Tober Watch Pile Shame-a-thon Statement here.

Nature of Shame:
Forgotten (?) Universal Horror.

Hoop-tober Challenge Checklist:
Decade – 1930’s
Classic Universal Horror


 

The Advance Word: Who can keep track anymore? I’ve seen Frankenstein many times. I’ve seen Bride of Frankenstein many times. I don’t remember Son of Frankenstein. Basil Rathbone! Bela Lugosi in a mop!

#7. Son of Frankenstein


son of frankenstein poster

I have to write 26 more of these; therefore, I’m going to recycle the opening paragraph from my She-Wolf of London writeup because it works as an intro to this review as well. Submit your gripes to the 30Hz Complaint Department. Your complaint will be logged, filed and ignored in the order in which it was received.

I watch and enjoy Universal horror movies indiscriminately. They’re comfort cinema. Therapy through high-contrast black and white cinematography. German Expressionism for the Moviewatcher’s Soul. My parents introduced these movies to me as a wee lad; The Invisible Man being the one that hooked me. The films aired non-stop on AMC (if I remember correctly) during the week of Halloween, and I’d cram as many as I could onto a stack of VHS tapes. As a result, I could hardly be expected to keep track of what I’d seen.

Beyond Frankeinstein and Bride of Frankenstein how well do you know your Universal Frankensteins? This is the question I asked myself when I needed an entry point into the new Frankenstein Universal Horror Collection Blu-ray. I recall watching House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula not too terribly long ago so I sampled the Blu-ray upgrade for a bit and moved on. Yet Son of Frankenstein felt like hazy memory. Trace notions of preferring it to Frankenstein popped up as I stared at the contents of the set.

If I needed to be bold enough to suggest something as offbeat as SON OF FRANKENSTEIN > FRANKENSTEIN, I needed first-hand, recently-viewed ammunition to defend this claim. Good news, gentle #31DaysOfHorror viewers; Son of Frankenstein confirmed all of my decaying notions of superiority. Plus, I know for a fact that the film never looked this good.

son of frankenstein rathbone, lugosi, karloff

Basil Rathbone plays Baron Wolf von Frankenstein, son of Henry Frankenstein, creator of “the monster.” Wolf moves back to his father’s castle, wife and son in tow, and aims to restore his father’s name. The villagers, however, greet Wolf with some resistance. Off camera, they’re sharpening pitchforks and readying torches with lighter fluid. Fire hazards be damned. Poor Wolf’s only friend is Lionel Atwill’s Inspector Krogh, who never fails to remind his friend about how his father’s monster ripped off his arm.

Wolf investigates the castle grounds, stumbles upon the old laboratory and meets the comatose body of the monster. Here he also becomes acquainted with another friend who’d like him dead. Ygor (Bela Lugosi, having just gone to the barber and asked for “the shaggy John Lennon”) plays coy after throwing some skull-crushing rocks down upon poor Wolf. (Honestly, with friends like these… ) In short order, Baron Wolf von Frankenstein becomes obsessed with reviving the slumbering monster. Finishing his father’s work consumes him. Ygor supports him, propelled by his own agendas. Wife and son remain casually oblivious to Wolf’s decaying mental state.

Son of Frankenstein represents arguably the best of the second wave of Universal horror. For two years, between 1936 and 1938, the studio removed horror from their lineup. Both Carl Laemmle, Sr. and Jr. (the originators of the horror cycle at Universal) had been forced out of the company after a number of financial duds.

In 1938, a struggling Los Angeles theater showed a Dracula/Frankenstein/King Kong triple feature (per Wikipedia). The box office success of that triple bill reminded Universal that they’d been sitting on a goldmine. Universal immediately put a new Frankenstein sequel into production starring Lugosi and Karloff. James Whale opted out (thinking his success in horror had initiated his career decline), opening the door for veteran director Rowland V. Lee. Another interesting note: Universal planned to shoot Son of Frankenstein in colorbut abandoned the notion midstream. Behind the scenes clips of Karloff in green makeup survive, if not the actual color film footage.

Son of Frankenstein marks a drastic leap forward in stateside filmmaking ability to borrow and regurgitate the teachings of the German Expressionists that inspired filmmakers during the first wave of Universal horror. The whole production leans toward artificiality. The more grotesque sets have been designed specifically to cast long, otherworldly shadows. As the final A-production Universal horror film, design and cinematography remain striking, especially for this brand of genre film. Critics cited the film’s lack of actual “terror,” but from our vantage point none of these films really provide many frights. Therefore, I deem these critics irrelevant. (Don’t tell them.) It’s precisely this high-contrast, unnatural setting that draws us into this film as something far more proficient than a simple horror film.

son of frankenstein 31 days of horror

Even more interesting to note is that Son of Frankenstein clearly served as Mel Brooks’ primary inspiration for Young Frankenstein. The haphazard behavior of Rathbone’s Baron Wolf von Frankenstein and his “frenemous” relationship with Ygor speak directly to the character dynamics of Gene Wilder’s Dr. Frankenstein and Marty Feldman’s Igor. You’ll note at least a dozen smaller instances of carryover between the films.

Technical Notes:

After comparing specific scenes from both the DVD Legacy Collection and the Blu-ray Legacy Collection, I can confirm, with 100% confidence, the necessity of upgrading Son of Frankenstein. While the 4K scans of both Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein exist elsewhere, Son of Frankenstein becomes the real treat for fans of the franchise. Never has the stunning black and white contrast been more pronounced. While the DVD looked good, a side-by-side contrast reveals how profound the difference really is. Look specifically at the scene where Wolf first arrives at the estate.

Final Thoughts:

Call me crazy, but I think Son of Frankenstein rivals Bride of Frankenstein, at least as pure entertainment. While Whale’s Bride clearly remains the superior film, Son of Frankenstein offers a visual feast of chiaroscuro to go along with the thrill of watching three legendary stars — Rathbone, Karloff and Lugosi — do battle in a “silly” little horror flick with Grade A technical achievement.

30Hz Rating:

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frankenstein legacy collection blu-rayBlu-ray Verdict: Doesn’t get much better than this for fans of classic Universal horror.

Availability: Universal’s brand new Frankenstein Complete Legacy Collection Blu-ray is available everywhere. And this here linky connects to Amazon.

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Earlier 31 Days of Horror entries: #1. Vampyros Lesbos / #2. A Chinese Ghost Story / #3. The Haunting of Morella / #4. Delirium (1972) / #5. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin / #6. She-Wolf of London

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31 Days of Horror: She-Wolf of London

she-wolf of london 31 days of horror

31+ Days of Horror. 33 Horror Movies. 33 Reviews. Hooptober Challenges and Bonus Tasks.
View my 2016 Cinema Shame/Hoop-Tober Watch Pile Shame-a-thon Statement here.

Nature of Shame:
Unseen Universal Horror.

Hoop-tober Challenge Checklist:
Decade – 1940’s
Classic Universal Horror


 

The Advance Word: None. Nobody talks about She-Wolf of London, which is why I’ve probably never bothered to watch it. Or why I never finished the entire Wolf Man Legacy Collection DVD set.

#6. She-Wolf of London
 she-wolf of london

I watch and enjoy Universal horror movies indiscriminately. They’re comfort cinema. Therapy through high-contrast black and white cinematography. German Expressionism for the Moviewatcher’s Soul. My parents introduced these movies to me as a wee lad; The Invisible Man being the one that hooked me. The films aired non-stop on AMC (if I remember correctly) during the week of Halloween, and I’d cram as many as I could onto a stack of VHS tapes. As a result, I could hardly be expected to keep track of what I’d seen.

When I received the brand new collection of Universal Wolf Man flicks on Blu-ray, I scanned the titles, looking for an unseen gem to add to my CinemaShame/Hoop-Tober Watch Pile Challenge. The final flick on the collection, She-Wolf of London, caught my eye. Most certainly I’d remember June Lockhart turning into a werewolf. I mean… wouldn’t you?

she-wolf of london 31 days of horror

Lockhart plays Phyllis Allenby, an heiress whose parents named her with the express intent of giving her agoraphobia or anthropophobia or at the very least making her an insufferable introvert. Phyllis lives in an old estate with her aunt Martha, cousin Carol, and servant Hannah. She is to be married to the in-demand bachelor Barry Lanfield. All seems well with the Allenbys. Except for the fact that Phyllis believes that at night she turns into a wolf and kills people in the park.

Without touching upon the film’s troublesome suggestion that Phyllis just needs a man in her life to make all her problems disappear, we’ll get right to the heart of She-Wolf of London‘s damning problem. There’s no werewolves in the film. Not one. Not even the shadow of one. The best we get is someone — clearly a human — barking behind some bushes in the park. If you’ve seen Curse of the Cat People, you’ll recognize the narrative at approximately the 15-minute mark. Trust me when I say I’m not spoiling the film here. She-Wolf of London might as well have made werewolf shadow puppets. That’s how much effort it put into the false assignation of crimes to lycanthropy.

She-Wolf premiered at the decadent end of Universal’s horror cycle hoping to capitalize on a slice of that Wolf Man name recognition. Familiarity might be the film’s best asset. The impressive, ornately furnished estate allows for typically above-average contrast and shadowy cinematography, but the set feels overly familiar. It would make sense that by the late 1940’s, Universal would have been recycling just about everything to strangle the last few dollars out of their goldmine horror franchises.

she-wolf of london

There’s novelty in seeing 21-year-old June Lockhart in one of her first starring roles. Dennis Hoey (Lestrade in the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films) stops by for an appearance as the Inspector that won’t fully buy into the werewolf nonsense. She-Wolf of London offers a couple of nuggets for Old Movie Weirdos to catalog in the back of their mind, but beyond that you’ll just be grateful that this toothless film lasts no longer than 70 minutes and offers a few unintentional laughs during the convoluted climax.

Technical Notes:

To satisfy my curiosity I sampled the transfer of She-Wolf of London on the original Wolf Man DVD collection and then jumped around the Wolfie Blu-ray titles on the rest of the set. You’ll find the expected difference in clarity from the DVD to the stepped-up Blu-ray but no extra clean up. She-Wolf of London apparently didn’t warrant the same care as the other titles, though I certainly can’t blame them for focusing their attentions elsewhere.

Final Thoughts:

If you never get around to the end of this Wolf Man set, I wouldn’t worry much about it unless you’re a die-hard June Lockhart fan.

30Hz Rating:

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Wolf Man Legacy Collection Blu-rayBlu-ray Verdict:
 It’s a collection of Universal horror movies from the 30’s and 40’s. Of course you should own it. Everyone should own it. The only caveat here is that if you’ve religiously purchased all of the Universal Horror Blu-ray sets the only new-to-Blu titles in this set are She-Wolf of London and Werewolf of London.

Availability: Universal’s brand new Wolf Man Complete Legacy Collection Blu-ray is available everywhere. And this here linky connects to Amazon.

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Earlier 31 Days of Horror entries: #1. Vampyros Lesbos / #2. A Chinese Ghost Story / #3. The Haunting of Morella / #4. Delirium (1972) / #5. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin

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31 Days of Horror: A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin

a lizard in a woman's skin 31 days of horror

31+ Days of Horror. 33 Horror Movies. 33 Reviews. Hooptober Challenges and Bonus Tasks.
View my 2016 Cinema Shame/Hoop-Tober Watch Pile Shame-a-thon Statement here.

Nature of Shame:
Unwatched Mondo Macabro LE Blu-ray. Regularly recommended Fulci.

Hoop-tober Challenge Checklist:
Decade – 1970’s
Country of Origin – Italy
Master Classers: Fulci


 

The Advance Word: Many claim this to be Fulci’s finest film. I knew nothing but the film’s elevated reputation.

#5. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin
 a lizard in a woman's skin poster

 

Lucio Fulci has never connected with me. When I first dove into Italian horror I picked up The Beyond as a result of many enthusiastic recommendations. It would become my first impression of Fulci. I didn’t dislike it, per say, but I’ve not felt the need to toss it into the DVD player again. The Anchor Bay tin resides at the bottom of a pile consisting of many special iterations of Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2. I’ve seen some Fulci since, but not one of those so-called Fulci “essentials” has swayed my opinion that Lucio Fulci’s most popular films were exercises in tossing goop at the camera.

I know! Sacrilegious. Calling “the Godfather of Gore” a goop tosser. I oversimplify perhaps. I’ve found more value in his westerns and his oddball comedies like Four of the Apocalypse and The Eroticist. But I haven’t given up on you, Lucio.

When Mondo Macabro, my favorite boutique distributor of Euro-trash, announced a very special A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin Blu-ray releaseI decided to once again dabble in Fulci. A giallo, no less!

a lizard in a woman's skin 31 days of horror

A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin checks into that cozy little giallo sub-genre that merges the genre’s psychosexual elements with a poliziotteschi. Part slasher, part police procedural, Lizard dives into the damaged psyche of Carol (Florinda Bolkan), a respected daughter of an even more respected politician. Carol finds herself experiencing vivid, dreamlike hallucinations consisting or orgies, LSD use and, ultimately, a bit of bloodletting. These dreams feature the hedonistic neighbor woman (Anita Strindberg) whom she openly claims to despise. Nice respectable modern women do not condone such behavior! After one such dream, Carol wakes to find herself at the center of a homicide investigation for the murder of the woman in her dream. Trippy.

Without traveling too far down the rabbit hole that is A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, I’ll just say that it seems rather clear that Fulci hates hippies and psychoanalysis, perfectly understand the tenants of the giallo genre (even if he finds pleasure in undermining them) and loves exploring the cinematic art of unified atmosphere. It’s this constant, unsettled atmosphere — the cockeyed and unpredictable camera angles and movement, Ennio Morricone’s score, the way color palettes shift from the realm of fantasy to reality — that makes this movie a special slice of horror cinema. If indeed it could be called “horror” — A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin errs more toward Agatha Christie than Dario Argento.

In his giallo guide So Deadly So Perverse, Troy Howarth says that while Fulci considered Argento’s films “sloppy in their construction but brilliant in their execution,” he considered his own attempts at gialli to be too mechanical. While I agree with the “mechanical” criticism of A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, Fulci’s film does not lack style. Lizard benefitted from the balance between the luxurious, flesh-filled dream sequences and the real-world investigation of the crime. As a result Fulci created a baseline series of oppositions in the movie: style vs. substance, the fanciful vs. the grounded, the uninhibited vs. the repressed.

forinda bolkan a lizard in a woman's skin

Florinda Bolkan in A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin. Her wardrobe in the film reinforces the character’s social and sexual repression that ultimately causes her psychological schism.

Bolkan’s performance anchors the film. Without her wildly vacillating but still stoic center (and perhaps her wardrobe), A Lizard doesn’t convey the necessary emotional and psychological fragility. The old Welsh thespian Stanley Baker holds down the skeptical investigator role without too much wasted energy. His appearance surprised me as I wasn’t aware he ever ventured into genre work or international productions.

Technical Notes:

I have no prior experience with A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, but Mondo Macabro’s release looks damn sharp. Nice contrast throughout, stable colors with expected grain levels. I noticed one minor instance of soundtrack hiss. The disc offers plenty of extras to dig through as well, including three documentaries, trailers, radio spots, an alternate opening, and an audio commentary from Fulci-doc filmmaker Kit Gavin.

Final Thoughts:

Ultimately, I appreciated A Lizard more than I enjoyed it, at least at first glance. Fulci’s packed this film with elements ripe for dissection. The constant opposition of clashing forces, his personal thoughts on psychoanalysis, the social and moral upheaval of the late 1960’s. As opposed to The Beyond or House by the Cemetery, however, I look forward to revisiting A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin. It feels like one of those films that will improve with subsequent viewings. Also, I won’t tell you what the hell the title means — to do so would be the ultimate spoiler of spoilers.

30Hz Rating:

30hzrating31-2


a lizard in a woman's skinBlu-ray Verdict:
 Mondo Macabro’s releases have all been keepers. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin deserves the same fate. Back on the shelf with you to await your next summons.

Availability: Mondo Macabro’s Region-Free Blu-ray release of A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin can be purchased on Amazon or Mondo Macabro’s Big Cartel site.

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Earlier 31 Days of Horror entries: #1. Vampyros Lesbos / #2. A Chinese Ghost Story / #3. The Haunting of Morella / #4. Delirium (1972)

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