As Stephen Thrower points out in his informative "Beyond Terror", TOUCH OF DEATH is the only Fulci film written entirely by the man himself, without the aid of other screenwriters. The result is far from perfect but certainly more character-focused than usual for "Godfather of Gore",notorious for his listless main heroes.
Budget limitations have forced Fulci to adopt minimalist style here, which suits the material rather well.
TOUCH OF DEATH was produced by Lugi Nannerini and Antonino Lucidi, responsible for the string of extremely cheap and dismal "Lucio Fulci presents" cash-in films. It's only logical to draw the comparison between TOUCH OF DEATH and those productions. Despite similarly tight budget which only allows for a handful of locations, Fulci manages to pull off some rather complex shots, showing himself to be in a class above the likes of Andrea Bianchi or Giovanni Simonelli as a director. One or two scenes are genuinely effective, like when Brett Halsey breaks into the house at the stables, accompanied by hysterical horse racing commentary on the radio.
Now to the minus sides: Brett Halsey.
This man obviously doesn't take the material all that seriously.
His performance is just a tired pantomime at times.
Halsey went on to appear in Fulci's troubled would-be comeback DEMONIA (1990)
Al Cliver gives the best performance in the film as the cynical crook Randy.
His last screen credit today is also in DEMONIA. Hopefully we'll see more of Cliver in the near future.
Overall, I've grown to enjoy TOUCH OF DEATH on repeat viewings. It's really not a first-rate Fulci, but in some ways it is quite original.
Lots of reviewers claim that this film's original ratio was fullscreen, since it was a made-for-TV film. The existing DVD's from Shriek Show and EC would seem to prove that.
Both were made from a BETA master(same one?). However, TOUCH OF DEATH was released letterboxed on VHS in France under the title Soupçons de mort. That was not a cropped fullscreen release and had a lot more information on the sides . So somewhere in the world there has to be original widescreen elements that need unearthing.
Quando Alice ruppe lo specchio(Italy, 1988)
Written and directed by Lucio Fulci
Starring Brett Halsey, Zora Kerova, Sacha Maria Darwin.