Touch of Death
Italy / 1988
Directed by Lucio Fulci
Brett Halsey
Al Cliver
Zora Kerova
Color / 82 Minutes / Not Rated
Format: DVD / R1 - NTSC
Shriek Show
Hold your mouse pointer over an image for a pop-up caption

Buy it online

at Amazon
    8   10 = Highest Rating  
Guest Review by Troy Howarth
Lester Parsons (Brett Halsey) supports his lavish life style by seducing deformed women, getting his hands on their money, and killing them off in colorful ways...
    Touch of Death is an above-average late period offering from Italian gore-meister Lucio Fulci. Decidedly satirical, and at times downright goofy, in tone and execution, it still offers walloping doses of the red stuff. The end result is sadly compromised and cannot be considered entirely successful, but when compared to some of the dreck the director was making around the same time (Ghosts of Sodom, anyone?), it looks very good indeed.
    American actor Brett Halsey (Atomic Submarine, The Return of the Fly) stars as the literal lady-killer, Lester Parsons. A likable performer, he emigrated to Italy in the 1960s after his contract ran out with Universal-International, who were building him up as another beefcake in the Tab Hunter mold. During his tenure in Italy, he made some films with Riccardo Freda, Mario Bava and, of course, Lucio Fulci. This was the third film he made with Fulci, and in many respects it's his best role out of the bunch. The script, and Fulci's direction, calls for him to mug it up in spots, but overall he makes for a solid and dependable lead. Lester's actions may be deplorable, but there is a charm to the way Halsey plays the role that makes him oddly endearing. The supporting cast is mostly forgettable, though Fulci regular Al Cliver (aka Pier Luigi Conti) pops up as a Mafioso type.
    Shot for television on 16mm, Touch of Death is visually rather drab, containing none of the 'scope splendor that typified Fulci's earlier works. Unlike some of his other late period TV works, however, there's a genuine sense that the director is enthusiastic about the material and is doing his damnedest to make it work. That he was able to get away with making such a vicious and violent movie within the confines of television is something in itself, but the film gains added points by not being nearly as lethargic and lifeless as many of his other final works. Indeed, it seems likely that given a more adequate budget and stronger production values it could have marked a sizable return to form for Fulci, who made his last truly 'good' film in 1986, with the steamy S&M melodrama The Devil's Honey. Nevertheless, fans of the director are sure to find something of interest here some of humor is very effective, the visceral elements pack a wallop, and the mildly supernatural bent it takes on in its final section is enough to give one nostalgic flashbacks to The House By the Cemetery.

Shriek Show's new SE of Touch of Death is commendable. The fullframe transfer looks as good as one could hope this is not a particularly well photographed work, and the 4:3 ratio is correct given its TV origins. Print quality is good overall, though there is some scratching evident. The DVD includes the option of a English track or an Italian one with English subtitles. The latter is the way to go, as the English track is a bit wooden. Removable subtitles are easy on the eyes.
    Extras include interviews with costar Zora Kerova and Fulci historian Paolo Albiero, as well as a lengthy audio interview with Fulci that plays as a commentary of sorts during the movie. The Kerova and Albiero pieces are decent and have some good insights into the film and Fulci's creative process, but the interview with the Maestro is the real bonus. Foul-mouthed and wickedly funny, Fulci revels in trashing numerous colleagues (including Barbara Steele and Franco Nero) and telling tales about his early directorial works. Much of the interview focuses on his origins in the business as a screenwriter, before delving into his works up until 1971. For whatever reason, the interview cuts out altogether as Fulci gets to Lizard in a Woman's Skin presumably, SS plans to use the second half of the interview as a supplement for an upcoming Fulci release. Let's hope so, anyway, as this is one of the few in-depth pieces with Fulci actually speaking that has surfaced in the U.S., and, as such, it's an invaluable resource for his fan base. Additional supplements include a promotional trailer and trailers for other Shriek Show releases.