TOUCH OF DEATH
(WHEN ALICE BROKE THE MIRROR)
Directed by Lucio Fulci
Written by Lucio Fulci
Produced by Luigi Nannerini & Antonino Lucidi
Cinematography by Silvano Tessicini
Music by Carlo Maria Cordio
Cast: Bret Halsey, Ria De Simone, Al Cliver (Pier Luigi Conto), Sasha Darwin, Zora Ulla & Marco Di Stefano
1988/81 mins/Color/Dolby Digital Sound
1:33.1/English/Italy/NTSC Region 0
Review from the EC Entertainment DVD
Lucio Fulci is known as the Godfather of Gore and has been the staple of the horror-gore film for years – with classics like ZOMBIE, THE BEYOND, and HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY to name a few. While plotlines and acting may not be at the forefront of a Fulci film, you can always count on him to deliver a gore filled atmospheric good time. In 1988 he concocted TOUCH OF DEATH, a movie made for late night Italian television. Now don't let that fool you into thinking you're not getting the real deal – made for TV or not, Fulci doesn't shy away from the brutality of his other more prominent pieces of work, he still confirms to the viewer he is the Godfather of Gore. Due to the rarity of this film prior to DVD, the only official way to view it was through footage spliced into CAT IN THE BRAIN (if you had an LD player) or the VHS bootleg route, but now EC Entertainment brings us this significant Fulci film to DVD.
Fulci regular Bret Halsey (DEMONIA, DANGEROUS OBSESSION) stars as Lester Parson our misogynist lady-killer, with a gambling problem. You see when Lester gets down on his luck at the horse track, and comes up short with his bookies he has to pick up women in the classifieds with recently deceased rich husbands. He takes them out for a good time, drugs them and finishes the night with death and dismemberment. The opening sequence sets the theme of the film right at the get go – Lester cooks a fine blue steak for himself, and eats it in front of the TV while watching a mole-faced amateur woman strip. Once finished his meal he goes to a back room where an obviously deceased woman (the very same woman he watched as he ate) lays on a slab with a chunk of meat cut from her leg. So Lester's not the nice man that watches porn while eating steaks after all. He's a cannibalistic psychopathic murderer!! He finishes the job with a chainsaw as he calmly hums his task away. Lester's full, so he grinds up the remains of her corpse for his orange cat, and his family of pigs he keeps in a barn outside his house – "She found her future in hog bellies."
Lester doesn't prey on just any women either. He rids the world of vulnerable rich women with obvious cosmetic deficiencies – the mole girl, the bearded lady, the cold sore woman, and (while not cosmetic) the lady that compulsively sings opera music (so needless to say I was glad when she died). This may come across as a cruel, mean spirited film and in a way it is but on the other hand it really isn't anymore hateful than any other serial killer or slasher film you've seen. The premise of TOUCH OF DEATH is misogynistic, but a lot of Fulci films do have that aspect about them. This movie is layered with humor that almost justifies or counteracts the brutality of it all. One scene in particular shows Lester vainly, with many attempts trying to drug the bearded lady, and when it seems futile he bashes her in the face with a wooden club scraping half of it away as her screams occupy the room. He then finishes the deed and cooks her face and upper body in the oven (or microwave oven as announced by the news reporter, but it's an oven). Everything here is over the top with gruesome gore and if anything TOUCH OF DEATH is nothing more than a sinister black comedy. It puts a different spin on a Fulci film, and the comedy is sometimes outright hilarious, which works – rigor mortis anyone?
The murders Lester commits end up appearing on the news and descriptions of the potential murderer are released to the public, and it's his description. Thinking he has covered his path Lester begins to believe someone is blackmailing him or copying his murders. Getting progressively paranoid Lester begins disguising his identity – cutting his beard, wearing contacts, coloring his hair. The film turns a different path when one day Lester's phone rings with the blackmailer on the other end. To the viewer it is clearly the same voice as Bret Halsey, but to Lester he has no idea. So is someone being a copycat of the murders, is it all in his head, or is someone really trying to blackmail Lester?
TOUCH OF DEATH isn't Fulci's best work, but for its meager budget the film does what it can and ultimately delivers. Some of the gore FX are lesser than Fulci's well know entries in the genre, but others like the head bashing scenes, and the homeless mans demise are solid. Even the opening chainsaw scene did it for me. TOUCH OF DEATH has a basic storyline, about a serial murderer but its lack of plot doesn’t deter from its entertainment. This film is funny, gory, brutal, and it’s Fulci – period.
EC Entertainment, based in the Netherlands presents this disc NTSC Region 0, uncut in its original 1:33.1 aspect ratio. The video quality is a touch above VHS, but nothing spectacular. The film contains some film dirt, and flex throughout. Due to this being a rarity and by the products EC usually puts out, this is an acceptable release. I'd rather have this version then not at all. There are three options for audio on this DVD, all of which are Dolby Digital 2.0 – English, French and Italian. They can be accompanied with removable English or Dutch subtitles. Like the video of this disc the audio is substandard as well, the English track being the best and boldest. The French track seems more muted and also contains music for the opening titles which the others don't have. The Italian track is louder than the French but the quality is poor almost as if it was recorded from the radio or television broadcast. The supplemental area is light as well where all we get is an 'Artwork Gallery' comprised of different box art for this title from around the world. The menus on the disc are fixed and very basic with the film split into 8 chapters. The DVD comes in a clear case with a nice looking sleeve. It does not contain an insert. Two other editions of this film exist on DVD as well, one from Avo Film in Italy under the title QUANDO ALICE RUPPE LO SPECCHIO, and the other from Laser Paradise in Germany under the title WHEN ALICE BROKE THE MIRROR. Both of the other editions lack supplements as well.
This Film Features:
Review by Chris Mayo. All Right Reserved. 2004. ©