• Touch Of Death



    Released by: 88 Films
    Released on: August 7th, 2017.
    Director: Lucio Fulci
    Cast: Brett Halsey, Ria De Simone, Al Cliver, Sacha Darwin, Zora Kerova
    Year: 1988
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    The Movie:

    Brett Halsey tops this later period Lucio Fulci film, starring as a financially starved and reasonably psychotic man named Lester Parsons. He needs money to pay off some pretty substantial gambling debts, so to do this he comes up with a scheme: prey on rich, lonely old widows he finds in the personals section of his newspaper and bilk them out of their money!

    He quickly proves more than adapt at this, easily convincing more than a few older ladies – all of whom are unattractive in various ways - that his intentions are pure and that he too is looking for someone to spend his golden years with. Of course, once he’s got them conned and had his hand on their loot, he quickly chops them up and gets rid of them by feeding their dismembered corpses to his hogs – at least, those bits that he doesn’t eat himself.

    Things are going fine for Lester, at least at first. All of that changes when a copycat killer starts planting clues that point back to Lester and that might just land him in some seriously hot water if he doesn’t deal with this problem… but he’s running out of time to pay off that debt to a loan shark named Randy (Al Cliver).

    Made on a modest budget for the television market, A Touch Of Death is as much, if not more, of a black comedy as it is a horror film. Halsey, who was in quite a few fifties ‘youth gone wild’ films like Hot Rod Rumble and High School Hellcats, seems to be having a lot of fun in the part. He essentially narrates the film by talking to himself into a tape recorder, which gives us some insight into just how twisted he is but Fulci doesn’t play this particularly straight. The humor in the film also extends to the over the top gore set pieces that were conjured up for the picture. Not all of this comedy works, mind you – some might say it’s in bad taste to ham it up while mercilessly slaughtering defenseless older ladies, but it’s clear that we’re not to take any of this all too seriously.

    As to those gore set pieces (some of which will look very familiar to those who have seen Cat In The Brain!), they’re pretty strong and done using some effective practical effects work. Fulci seems to relish these scenes, the camera tends to linger on them, which can be tonally awkward. Again, the gore and the comedy sometimes stand in contrast to one another, rather than compliment each other.

    Like a lot of Fulci’s later films, this one is pretty uneven, but it definitely has its moments and as such, it’s worth seeing for those with an interest in the director’s filmography (even if it contains one of the most repulsive sex scenes ever filmed!).

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Touch Of Death is presented on a 25GB disc in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.33.1 fullframe sourced from the original negative, and it looks okay if never reference quality. It looks like there’s been some light DNR applied, resulting in some softness and slightly waxy skin tones – but thankfully it’s not a total sand blast, there’s still quite a bit of detail in the image. There’s also some crush in a few of the darker scenes, it’s minor, but it’s there. The good news is that it definitely looks better than the previous DVD release by quite a noticeable margin. Colors look really strong here and there’s a reasonable amount of depth to the picture. The image is also very clean, showing very little in the way of actual print damage.

    Italian and English language audio options are provided in LPCM 2.0 Mono with subtitles provided in English only for the Italian track. Audio quality is fine on this release. There are no audible issues with any hiss or distortion and the levels are nicely balanced throughout playback. Range is understandably limited by the source but yeah, no complaints.

    There’s only one extra on the disc itself, unless you count menus and chapter selection, and that’s a twenty-two-minute featurette called Reflections In A Broken Mirror which interviews assistant director Michele De Angelis and actor Marco Di Stefano about their work on the picture. There are some interesting stories here about their respective experiences on set, their thoughts on the film’s infamous director, shooting locations and other odds and ends – interesting stuff.

    As to the actual physical packaging, 88 Films supplies some keen reversible cover art as well as a color insert booklet that contains an interview with the might Al Cliver conducted by Calum Waddell wherein he covers his work on this and other Fulci projects.

    The Final Word:

    Is Touch Of Death top-tier Fulci? Nah, but it’s pretty fun and it works as an interesting showcase for the director’s twisted sense of dark humor. Cliver and Halsey are a kick to watch here and there are a few well done gore scenes in the picture for those that can appreciate that type of thing. 88 Films’ Blu-ray release may not be the high point of the Blu-ray format, but it mops the floor with the old DVD release making this one worthwhile for fans of the picture.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!





























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