A Lizard In A Woman’s Skin 70S Thriller Movies

Background Information

The 70s was a memorable decade for popular culture and marked an evolution in the thriller genre of movies. These movies often centred on plots where the main protagonist was placed into a situation of life or death. During the 1970s, there was a surge of thrilling movies about women who were placed into extreme and suspenseful situations. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin was one such movie. Directed by Lucio Fulci in 1971, it was a classic example of the giallo genre, a cross between suspense, horror, and thriller stories.

The movie follows the story of Carol Hammond (Florinda Bolkan) and her strange recurring dreams. In the dreams, a blood-soaked woman resembling her attacks her neighbour with a knife. She turns out to be right; her dreams become reality when her neighbour is murdered. Teaming up with Inspector Corvin (Stanley Baker), Carol begins a manhunt for the killer.

Data and Perspectives

This movie is considered one of the most influential psychological thrillers of the 70s. Many critics praise its use of slow-building suspense, dream-like atmosphere and overall sense of dread. With its slim-budget and primitive special effects, the movie still holds up and is considered a true classic of the giallo genre.

Arguably, this film was one of the first examples in the 70s of showcasing female leads in strong and powerful roles. Florinda Bolkan was praised for her portrayal of Carol Hammond, a smart and capable woman who was determined to find the truth.

Insights and Analysis

One of the most gripping aspects of this movie is the overhanging feeling of dread that the viewer experiences. This is achieved via the pre-murder sequences in the movie, where Carol experiences visions of a woman with a knife attacking her neighbour. What is interesting is that this woman looks like Carol and many believe this is a representation of her darker urges – a metaphor for her inner conflicts.

Furthermore, this movie also contains a shrewdly crafted subplot. The character of Inspector Corvin is juxtaposed against Carol’s headstrong approach, which results in considerable friction between the two. This macro drama is reflective of the film’s micro-level drama between Carol and her own character ‘shadow’, which this movie seems to highlight.

Visual Scenery

A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin has some of the most memorable visual scenery of any 70s thriller. From the neon-lit bars of London to the haunting woods of Devon, the audience is immersed in a world of chaotic landscape and mind-bending events. There are also various dream sequences which are effective in displaying Carol’s inner turmoil and her fear of reality merging with dreams.

The movie’s scores and soundtracks also add to the overall suspense. With repeated motifs played throughout the movie, it further enhances the creepy nature of the story.

Cult Following

Today, the movie has a cult following amongst the horror movie fans. Over the years, there has been an increasing appreciation of the movie’s artistic values. Critical reviews have often been positive and the movie remains a timeless classic.

Themes Explored

A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin examines various themes, from psychoanalysis to morality. It also looks at the protagonist’s inner conflicts and how this leads to a sense of distorted reality. Carol Hammond not only struggles with her inner demons but also her battle with a sinister female killer.

The movie explores themes related to morality and how power can affect behaviour. It also looks at how fear of the unknown can lead to irrational choices from the protagonist, further enhancing the sense of dread. These themes are explored in a unique and captivating way, making this movie a true snapshot of the 70s thriller genre.

Status of Women

Another interesting element of this movie is its exploration of the status of women at the time. In the 70s, women were often portrayed as helpless victims in horror movies but this movie took a stand against this long-held idea. Carol Hammond is a strong-minded woman who is determined to find the truth and stay true to her convictions. Her gender does not stop her from uncovering the truth and the movie participates in a different kind of gender discourse, one which is quite progressive for its time.

A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin takes the gender discourse further by making the female antagonist an equal match to Carol. This adds a new layer of complexity to the story and is an important addition to the movie in terms of female representation.

Romantic Plot

The movie is also unique in that it contains a romantic plotline between protagonist and antagonist. While this is often seen as a trope, the movie does present something which is slightly different – a love story between two people with polar-opposite values.

The movie implies that the characters shared a past and this is a major driver in their current-day developing relationship. This is a major departure from other thriller movies of the time and serves as a reminder of the movie’s progressive nature.

Acting Performance

Overall, the movie is a powerful and captivating watch and one of the standout elements of the movie is the acting performance. The chemistry between Carol and Inspector Corvin is believable and their scenes together are often electrifying.

Florinda Bolkan shines in her role as the determined Carol Hammond and her performance is one of the driving forces behind the movie. Her portrayal of a woman caught at the crossroads of fear and courage encapsulates the strengths and weaknesses of human nature.


The cinematography in the movie is also great. The visuals are often unsettling and there are plenty of scenes which will stay with the viewer for many years to come. The camera techniques used to create the dream sequences are especially impressive and add another layer to the movie’s surreal nature.

The movie helps establish the giallo genre and today it stands as a reminder of what makes a good thriller movie in terms of suspense, tension, and atmosphere.

Plot Resolution

The movie reaches its conclusion with a cleverly layered plotline. With the murderer’s motives revealed, Carol and Inspector Corvin must team up and figure out the best course of action. What follows is a tense and dramatic climax which will leave the audience guessing until the very end.

The ending of the movie is sure to satisfy as the protagonists manage to bring the killer to justice. With a unique blend of suspense and moral ambiguity, the movie succeeds in creating a powerful love story with a complex narrative.

Alternative Interpretations

The movie can also be interpreted in various ways. The recurring dream might be a representation of the protagonist’s inner conflicts, with the locket providing a window into the past.

The character of Inspector Corvin might also symbolise the figure of authority and the rigid morality that comes with it. His presence in the movie serves as a counterpoint to Carol’s strong-willed and independent nature.

Social Commentary

The movie also serves as a reminder of the powerful influence of popular media. The plotline of Carol’s dreams becoming reality suggests an alternative vision for our world – one which is influenced by popular culture and art.

Due to its strong female lead, the movie also makes a statement about the rigid patriarchy prevalent in society. With its unique exploration of gender roles and alternative realities, A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is an intriguing movie which still holds up today.

Vicki Strouth is a life-long film enthusiast, having grown up watching classic cinema in her childhood. She has since gone on to pursue writing about films and movie news, with her work being published on various online platforms. She is passionate about supporting independent filmmakers and highlighting important stories from around the world. She has also written a successful book about classic movies from Hollywood's Golden Age era. Vicki currently lives in Seattle, where she continues to explore films of all genres and eras.

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