The Iguana With the Tongue of Fire

The Iguana With the Tongue of Fire

"The murderer has done a perfect job. A specialist, I'd say... like me."

When the naked, acid-burned corpse of a young woman is discovered in the trunk of the Swiss Ambassador's car it sets off a touchy political situation for the Dublin police, so Inspector Lawrence (Arthur O'Sullivan) engages loose-canon former cop John Norton (Luigi Pistilli) to do the dirty work of the investigation. While uncovering Ambassador Sobieski's (Anton Diffring) dirty secrets and family scandals, he falls in love with the Ambassador's step-daughter, Helen (Dagmar Lassander). Soon, more and more people connected to the family are murdered in the same malicious manner. Could the killer be a disgruntled employee like the driver (Renato Romano)? Is this an elaborate plot to create an international incident? Or perhaps Inspector Norton is the killer, using his influence to throw off the police?

The Iguana With the Tongue of Fire is a decent giallo with a large pool of suspects, some crazy moments, and bloody murder scenes, but the conclusion is a big disappointment. Really, the best thing this movie has going for it is that fantastic title, which turns out to be a metaphor for something that is exotic, beautiful, and deadly. To be honest, I would have preferred if the title was a complete non-sequitur and nobody alluded to it in the film.  
  • The cast is full of familiar faces including Pistilli (Bay of Blood; The Case of the Scorpion's Tail), Dagmar Lassander (Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion), Valentina Cortese (The Girl Who Knew Too Much) and Renato Romano (Seven Bloodstained Orchids; The Bird With the Crystal Plumage).
  • We see the murderer kill two people with a razor but the movie doesn't show the other three. All the dead bodies are shown with bloody necks, but I'm not sure we can assume that a razor was used in all five cases.
  • The kill scenes and the acid-burning scene were done with fake-looking rubber dummies, but the real gruesome sequence is when Norton gets stitches at the hospital.
  • While The Iguana With the Tongue of Fire is clearly a giallo, it borrows elements from the poliziotechi genre, which is characterized by a dangerous loner cop tracking down a case.
What the Hell Am I Watching?

It takes a while to get used to hearing Luigi Pistilli dubbed over with an Irish accent.

I love that all the suspects, police, and the doctor hang out in the same nightclub. So convenient.

Speaking of which, it seems that there's only one doctor in the city of Dublin. That guy turns up everywhere.

Yes, Ambassador Sobieski gets his dry cleaning done at Swastika Laundry Ltd.

When Norton sneaks into an apartment to gather evidence at night, someone is already there and they duke it out in a brutal four-minute furniture-smashing brawl. Which is filmed in complete darkness.The sound effects are pretty good, though.

Fashion Moment

I want to give a quick mention to Granny Norton's glasses with the built-in hearing aids. They're functional and they're a plot point.

But my favorite thing is this awesome birch-textured military-cut jacket worn by Helen's boyfriend Walter (Sergio Doria). Sharp.

Also, Mrs. Sobieski is really getting her Garbo on in this opulent costume.

One more thing...

Do you think Luigi Pistili has a standard clause in his contract stating that he must wear turtlenecked fishermans' sweaters in all of his movies? Those business suits he wore in The Case of the Scorpion's Tail were a great departure and I wish he'd change up his look more often.


  1. This may make me look stupid, but I've seen this film 5 times, and I still don't know who the killer is. I've seen him at the end, but then I rewind to see him in other parts of the film, and I just don't know who he is! It's a little embarrassing, but I've got to know!!

  2. Another WTF moment is When The police ask to see a receipt for the drivers cleaning and the company is called "Swastika cleaning ltd"... their logo is a swastika.