on 24 March 2013
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). Surprisingly the film is incredibly gory (I say surprisingly because I believe it was made for television), one scene early reminding me of some of the atrocities in Guinea Pig II, which is kind of pleasing given Fulci's history with some of the best gore films to ever come out of Italy, however, special effects man Angelo Mattei is no Gianetto De Rossi. Having said that the head in an oven is a bit of a show-stopper. Exploitation regular Zora Kerova (Miss Meathook from Cannibal Ferox) is also present.
The Dutch DVD from EC Entertainment gives us a soft, washed-out fullframe (framed as shot on 16mm) transfer, with optional English or Italian audio tracks. Thankfully there were English subtitles available, although the Italian track is in quite bad shape (I've heard forties films sounding better than this). Shriek Show released a DVD a couple of years after this one, looking much the same although featuring a more comprehensive package of extras. Make no mistake: this is not an excellent film, though I do feel there is enough of the macabre and weird here to save it from the dust-bin (garbage can if you're American).
Possibly stretching to *** for the film, although in the HD era I could no way give this (admittedly quite old now) DVD more than **
Paul (The Grim Cellar at Blogspot)