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Touch of Death (1988)

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Product details

  • Actors: Brett Halsey
  • Directors: Lucio Fulci
  • Format: PAL, Colour, Dolby
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: EC
  • Run Time: 81 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002O6RVJQ
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 83,192 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Directed by Lucio Fulci (Zombi 2, City of the Living Dead, The Beyond) 'Touch of Death' follows the gory misadventures of subdued psychopath Lester Parson (Brett Halsey) as he goes about his business seeking out lonely desperate (and mainly hideously unattractive) women in the newspaper classifieds section whom he seduces, plies with booze then maims and slices before dining on their flesh! His brutal doings don't go unnoticed as he soon becomes victim to an extortion attempt by a local tramp and that combined with his growing gambling debts leads to some rash moves by the desperate unhinged loner in this comically dark rare Fulci gem.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr. K. Arts on 12 Jun. 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Brett halsey plays lesley parson, a pychopathic, cannibalistic killer with gambling problems who recieves helpful advice from the voice in his radio! To call Parson a nutter would be kind and to call this film restrained would be a lie... It opens with him killing a woman, eating part of her leg then carving her up to feed to the pigs! If any of this sounds familiar then its because if you've seen fulci's cat in the brain then you've already seen large portions of this film as he cannabalised (pardon the pun) both this and another film called Sodomas ghost Sodoma's Ghost (1988) for the infamous cat in the brain recently released in a supurb special edition by grindhouse releasing Cat in the Brain [DVD] [1990] [US Import] so much so Halsey was surprised to find out he had made a second film with fulci as the maestro had not bothered telling him he was re-using so much of the film for cat.
This as with sodomas ghost and cat probably best represents Fulci's decline in the later years of his career as this is certainly nowhere near as good lizard in a womans skin, Zombie 2, or even new york ripper and often feels more than a little stale styalistically. That said its mental enough to enjoy at least for laughs as Halsey seduces rich women then kills them forwhatever cash is lying around the house (not really a long-term planner!) and has rows with his only pal the talking radio! The disc is bare bones and the print quality is lacking (apparently the origional materials are long lost) but it's certainly worth a look for fulci completists, and anyone after some genuinley mad and over the top gorey fun, or better yet check out Cat in the brain which is probably a better film overall... nonetheless I enjoyed it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul WJM on 24 Mar. 2013
Format: DVD
Touch of Death (AKA When Alice Broke The Mirror) was made by Lucio Fulci in 1988, a few years after the pinnacle of his career had occurred. It's about a man with serious gambling issues who is compelled to date and murder rich women to fund his downwardly spiralling lifestyle. It would appear that his mind is losing its stability in the process, as he believes odd things are happening with his own shadows, conversations occur with himself, and most uncannily, people he has killed are indeed found dead - but not where he left them. Furthermore the police seem to be closing in as clues to his identity materialise on the News with alarming frequency.

As with Sodoma's Ghost Fulci wrote the story and screenplay for this one, though his efforts are more successful here than the dire Naziploitation flick. Carlo Maria Cordio's score is stronger, though still a tad excessive, and the dialogue appears to be improved (though it's difficult to directly compare due to the fact that I couldn't view Sodoma's Ghost in Italian, as previously mentioned). There are doses of humour varnished on to the horrors (e.g. the feet of a recently murdered corpse keep popping out of his car boot, until he resorts to chopping them off!) that occasionally function as intended, but what keeps your eyes on the screen is the presence of the downright bizarre. Every woman he tends to get his mitts on is remarkably ugly, even to the point where one of them has a scarred face that he can barely even look at (and as plain wrong as it is, this scenario actually forces a couple of smiles that you'll be desperately trying to suppress).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
It Actually Made Me Sick 16 July 2012
By Richard Ross - Published on
Format: DVD
Forgive me for paraphrasing Eli Roth who said those exact same words about 'The Human Centipede.' The difference is he went on to say that that was the highest compliment he could give a horror movie. I'm not trying to flatter Fulci, I'm stating a fact. I didn't even make it 10 minutes into the movie before developing a nagging stomach ache that stayed with me the whole time. What caused it? I'm still trying to decide if it was the rail thin woman with a mole on her face thicker than both her waist and her wrists dancing around naked, the lead actor eating what looked like lasagna but wasn't, or when that same guy took a chainsaw to a naked female corpse then fed the bones and gristle to his pets. Tough call, right? Make no mistake this movie is gross as hell. The only thing that kept me watching is that halfway through Fulci finally lets up on the gore and shifts gears into thriller/supernatural territory quite effectively.

Lester Pearson (Brett Halsey), a psycho who hears voices, is a widower with a severe gambling addiction. In order to feed his habit, he preys on rich women looking for companionship. The catch is they're all ugly. We're talking women with moles, mustaches, beards, cleft lips, scabs, etc, etc. After he sleeps with them (an act which he videotapes so he can watch it again later), he poisons them and kills them. But not in any ho-hum kind of way. Lester is lethal with weapons as varied as branches, ovens, bullwhips, you name it he can maim with it. He disposes their remains as quickly as possible so that he can get his hands on their money and jewelry. Problem is his haste makes him sloppy and pretty soon witnesses are coming forward to the cops. And the hits keep on coming for this born loser: his windfall quickly runs out and he winds up owing a bookie over $20,000. Plus, a copycat killer pops up who starts harassing Lester and leaving his blood samples all over town. How's ol' Les gonna get out of this one?

Like I said, the film's final act is its best. Fulci springs a couple of unexpected plot twists and he does a good job of getting into the mind of a psychopath. There's a telling line towards the end of the film when Lester is on the phone with a travel agent. He repeats his name and says "That's right Pearson. Almost like a person." Shortly after that he actually loses his shadow. What the hell is he? Fulci leaves these and many more questions unanswered since the film ends rather abruptly but its no less satisfying for it. The case promises that this film will divide Fulci fans right down the middle. It's an accurate statement because not only does Lucio provide the gore and more he also delivers a satisfying giallo thriller. It may be a lesser known effort, but it shows this master hadn't completely lost his touch.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Simply Must Be Seen 4 July 2006
By Fieval Years - Published on
Format: DVD
At last a lost classic has made it's way onto DVD. For a Fulci fan this DVD is a true reward. The story and script combined result in a Black Comedy Masquerade. I really don't want to give too much away other than this movie is truly a must see. See it with a group of friends that know or don't know Fulci's work and you will be in for a night of humourous Italian Horror. For a fan of Italian Horror don't go into it expecting Suspiria or Zombi because this movie is nowhere near that in mood instead, go into the film expecting Dario Argento's The Card Player or Joe D'Amato's The Grim Reaper mixed with light Tarantino-esque wordplay and scenes (in particulary the newscasters and homeless man scene) and you will not be disappointed. Honestly, this film would rank as one of my top five favorite Fulci films.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A lesser Fulci effort 11 May 2007
By Jeffrey Leach - Published on
Format: DVD
No figure in the horror film genre is as divisive as Lucio Fulci. After watching his films, viewers tend to move into one of two camps. One side hails Fulci as a master of terror, a man who upped the gore quotient in his films while creating wonderfully atmospheric pictures. For these people, Fulci is up there with the likes of Dario Argento as one of the best Italian horror directors. The other camp sneers at these claims, pointing to the plodding pace of his films, the use of extreme gore to camouflage plot holes, and the director's inability to draw good performances out of his cast as evidence of mediocrity. Initially, I enjoyed Fulci's films, specifically "Zombie," "City of the Living Dead," and "The New York Ripper" because I did not know any better. When I came on the scene, you went to Fulci to feed your gore cravings. What a difference a few years exploring the genre makes! While I will not go so far as to remove Lucio from my play list, I have seen enough of his films to realize he is not a cinematic genius. He is at best a competent director, at worst an abysmal one, and there are plenty of examples of bad filmmaking in this director's filmography. Welcome to "Touch of Death".

The movie introduces us to a sad, pathetic loser named Lester Parson (Brett Halsey). Old Lester has a big problem with the ponies, one that finds him constantly digging himself deeper into debt in order to satisfy his cravings at the racetrack. He also has a problem trying to pull off that cheesy looking beard, but that's another story for another day. Anyway, Parson loses so much money gambling that he must constantly borrow dinero from a local loan shark to cover his bets. You know what happens next: Parson owes so much money that the shark threatens to send a few bonecrushers over to Lester's place unless he pays his debts. Ooooh! Fortunately for our bearded hero, he hits upon an excellent plan that will not only pay off Luigi the Loan Shark but also fill his wallet to the brim with some walkin' around money. What's the plan? Simple. He pores through lonely heart ads in the newspaper, finds a suitable mark, and then homes in for the wooin' and the robbin'. Yep, that's right. Lester Parson preys on lonely old biddies, really ugly old dames too, and cleans out their bank accounts.

To insure the success of his nefarious schemes, Parson has to kill his victims. Unfortunately for them, Lester seems to relish sending these ladies into the great unknown. I offer as proof of this assertion one of the opening scenes of the film, the one in which we see Les firing up the old chainsaw in order to reduce one of his conquests to her component parts. Fulci makes sure we understand what's going on by letting the camera linger on the unfolding atrocity. And linger. And linger. Yecch! We'll see more violence later, including a nasty bludgeoning and magic with a microwave, before the movie judders to a stop. Too, Uncle Lucio makes Parson a cannibal--just as a lark, I'd imagine. Let's see, what else happens? Oh yeah: someone else seems to be ambling around mirroring Lester's atrocities, which makes our man a wee bit nervous. He's so nervous, in fact, that he spends some time trying to discover the identity of this nefarious culprit. He also spends a lot of his free time tape recording comments about his various activities. Did I mention the tape machine talks to our hero? Uh huh. Looks like Lester's a little light in the head as well.

"Touch of Death" isn't a stellar addition to the horror canon, but then again Fulci wasn't turning out his best work by 1988. His glory days came earlier, in the 1970s and early 1980s. This movie, while gory in spots, fails to capture the charm of his earlier outings. In those movies Fulci would spread the sauce from beginning to end. Here, we see a trio of heinous crimes--a bum run over with a car, the bludgeoning followed by fun with microwaves, and the chainsaw gag--and then the gore essentially disappears. Seeming to sense that the movie won't live up to expectations, Fulci lards the film with healthy doses of black comedy. See Lester try to stuff body parts in the trunk of his car! Har Har Har! See Parson grimace as he must romance his extraordinarily ugly conquests! Oh, my sides! Granted, smooching a gal with hairy moles or cold sores isn't my cup of tea, but it's not particularly amusing either. The funniest thing about "Touch of Death" involves nothing that appears in the film but rather the realization that Lucio made the movie for television. For television! Those wacky Italians! In what bizarro universe would a movie like this appear on television?

Considering the less than sublime quality of the film, it is somewhat surprising to see "Touch of Death" receive such an excellent treatment on DVD. I'm not talking about the picture quality, which isn't good by a long shot. It's the extras where this Media Blasters disc really shines. Included for our pleasure is a lengthy audio commentary from none other than the late Lucio Fulci! It is not actually a commentary in the traditional sense (he doesn't even discuss this film) but a sort of synopsis of Fulci's career spanning the time he spent as a screenwriter up to the arrival of his 1971 classic "Lizard in a Woman's Skin". Then we get comments from Fulci historian Paolo Albeiro and an interview with star Zora Kerova. Cool! Trailers, a still gallery, and a promo for "Touch of Death" round out the disc. Obviously, Fulci aficionados will want to pick up this disc. All other viewers should start with his classic stuff and work their way up to this one.
Well....It's Better Than Black Demons, For What That's Worth. 28 April 2013
By Stanley Runk - Published on
Format: DVD
Yeah, since I'm a Fulci fan, I try to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I gotta say that Touch of Death isn't all that great. Just watchable really.
Like all fans of Italian horror know, Fulci's later films are just missing that special "something" that his 70s and early 80s films(the ones that made us fans) had. Based on the strength of those early films, we tend to cut him slack and hope for a taste of what made those films unique to show up in the later ones. Usually this doesn't happen, but a flash here and there does show up,and the films are entertaining in their own way. Plus, it may not just be Fulci-the Italian horror industry on a whole started going downhill by the end of the 80s.
So here we have Touch of Death which follows the adventures of Brett Halsey, who shacks up with rich widows to help pay for his gambling debts. The women are all rather unattractive to say the least, and Halsey himself seems disgusted by what he must do. He also videotapes the encounters, which seems to make little sense to me considering he was grossed out by having to sleep with the women in the first place. And yes, he ends up murdering them too!! Sometimes he even eats them! This also made little sense to me because it always seemed like he killed them before he really got any money from them.
Anyhow, the film jumps from one meet/seduce/kill/dispose of body scenario to another with occasional trips to the gambling bookie. Plus, Halsey starts getting mysterious phone calls and becomes increasingly paranoid that someone is onto him....or maybe copying him....or maybe trying to drive him mad. And where did his shadow go?
It's really all not that terribly interesting. Fulci tries for some black comedy here, such as Hitchcockian shenanigans while Halsey tries to dispose of the corpses(in a scene that goes on a bit too long, he simply cannot get the body to sit upright in the passenger seat-Hardy Har har!!!). Unfortunately the comedy really isn't all that funny. At least to me it wasn't.
But on the plus side, I have always liked Halsey as an actor, and Fulci injects a bit more gore here than he did for his other movies around the same time period.
Well, I guess that's all there really is to say about that.
Very Underated 16 Jun. 2012
By bobzombie - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I loved Touch of Death. Sure the plot is thin and the acting is not that great, but I thought Brett Halsey did a pretty good job with the dark comedy and his insanity. There are some pretty good gore scenes. I think people are way to hard on Fulci's latter work. He was in poor health and you can't expect a great hit every time. Fulci is a one of a kind director. Every movie isn't gonna be "The Beyond", "Zombie" or "City of the Living Dead". Give this film a chance. If you love Fulci, at least give him the respect he deserves as a unique director.
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