He Has the… – Touch of Death (1988)

Directed by master of the macabre Lucio Fulci, Touch of Death which went straight to video is perhaps the worst film he ever made or at least close to it – a foray into tedium like no other despite the subject matter and the plethora of blood and dismemberings.

There are a few things that make this movie almost intolerable, most of it stemming from what seemed like Fulci simply not caring in the slightest at this point in his career in making a good film. Whether it be the settings, the story and plot, the acting or the achingly slow pace of it all, most of what was on-screen seemed like it was designed to chase away the audience. This is not A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin or The House by the Cemetery or The Beyond, meaning some of his better work. It is something he should never have put his name to even though many of his hallmarks can be found within meaning the violence and what comes of it – a lot of blood, gore and nastiness.

The main character named Lester, who is a cannibal among other things, as played by Brett Halsey is the usual degenerate found in a picture like this and he is not a person that makes watching this any better though he could have if the writing had been stronger. On the plus side, there are moments of humour interspersed throughout, most of these coming from the women that Lester ends up wooing as each of them has something wrong with them, either a quirk or physical deformity that erupts in a giggle despite the tragic amount of boredom the rest of it elicits. The special effects are decent as each kill often contains enough carnage to satisfy any fan of Fulci or Italian cinema and each one is somewhat unique from the last. Even a couple of the murders are a little funny like the strangulation of the woman who sings in her sleep or when one of the victims is repeatedly run over. Still, despite a few moments of frivolity, the film is still a chore to get through and even though it only runs around eighty minutes, it feels like an eternity.  If Fulci had simply put a little love into the final product there is every chance that Touch of Death might have ended up a classic sitting alongside the rest of his work but such as it is, what ended up on film went more for shock than good storytelling.

This movie for what it is worth is one for completionists only, for those that love their horror and love Lucio Fulci because no matter how bad it might be on any given level, there will still be something of interest within for those discriminating viewers.

2 out of 5

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