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us title: The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire
italian title: L'iguana dalla lingua di fuoco
year: 1971
director: Riccardo Freda
composer: Stelvio Cipriani
full details: IMDB
overall score: 92

Bottom Line: Entertaining
Nothing ground breaking here, but a fun time nonetheless.


WARNING: Spoilers Below

score analysis

The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire is arguably the undisputed champion of the most outlandish movie title in the genre. The film was released in August of 1971 fresh off the growing trend of Gialli started by Argento's Bird with the Crystal Plumage and blatantly imitates not only the Giallo formula but the use of animals in the films title. The film is directed by Riccardo Freda who lensed the 1969 proto-Giallo Double Face, but later changed his name in the credits of Iguana to Willy Pareto because he was unhappy with the end result and embarrassed to attach his name to it. 



The film is unique in that it takes place in Dublin, Ireland, but despite a location further west than most Gialli are accustomed to, Iguana utilizes much of the urban landscape as a backdrop like so may other Gialli of its day.  The film features the usual suspects within its cast and crew, with Giallo veteran Luigi Pistilli as the lead detective with a on-again-off-again Irish accent and Dagmar Lassander who most notable performance is from Luciano Ercoli's Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion. A few other regulars show up in the cast and the music (some of which is borrowed from A Bay of Blood) is composed by Stelvio Cipriani.


To mention that the plot of a Giallo film is convoluted is like saying the ocean is salty; we expect as much. But Freda, who helped to write the story throws in a few really good head scratchers that leave the viewer asking themselves, "What was THAT?" Characters hang from drawbridges, have bobsled accidents, get their shirts pressed at "Swastika Laundry", fly from Dublin to Switzerland on a whim, and can't hear without wearing their glasses. In the end, our fearless detective is left clueless, and it is only because the killer decides to attack his mother and daughter in his home that the plot resolves and the killer is revealed.


Regardless of the head-scratching plot, Iguana scores very high on the GialloScore. Nine Gialli were released in August of 1971 in Italy with Iguana being at the tail end (no pun intended). So it should come as no surprise that all the common tropes are represented. Note that I took the liberty of classifying the "retired" detective John Norton as an amateur detective.


So I know I sound like a broken record, but if you're able to get past the nonsensical plot and bad dubbing, Iguana has enough entertaining scenes to make the film worth watching. I expect that if/when a more pristine print of the film is transferred to digital the experience will be much more enjoyable as the currently available version is dark, grainy, and low resolution.


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Published: 2017-09-27