Friday, October 31, 2008

Quando Alice ruppe lo specchio (1988)

...aka: Touch of Death
...aka: When Alice Broke the Mirror

Directed by:
Lucio Fulci

Lester Parson (Brett Halsey) is a middle-aged gambling addict who has an interesting way of clearing his debts; scouring the "Lonely Hearts" personal ads, meeting wealthy widows and then murdering them for their money and jewelry. He's first seen sharing a fine roast with his cat Reginald and watching a home video of a woman taking her top off. Immediately afterward he walks into a room with a dead, naked female corpse (the woman from the video) who's missing a huge chunk of meat missing from her thigh. Guess we know where that juicy rump roast came from. The body is then lovingly dismembered with a chainsaw and in typical Fulci fashion we get close-ups of all four of her limbs, her torso and her head being sliced off (the gore make-up is actually excellent in this one). He grinds up her flesh into hamburger meat, slops his pigs with her guts and dumps the remaining body parts elsewhere.
Lester meets a second rich woman who's got a facial hair problem and hairy moles on her breasts. He gets her drunk and tries to poison her in an amusing scene where nothing goes his way. She mixes up her drink with his, and then when she's given a second poisoned cocktail, she immediately runs into the bathroom and starts puking it up. He barges in and bashes her over the head with a stick. As blood gushes down, she flees in terror and is bashed over the head several more times until blood is pouring out everywhere and her eyeball falls out. Still not dead, he sticks her head in the oven and roasts her until her flesh starts melting off. Her body is dumped at a construction site in a hole full of wet concrete. A bum sees what he's doing and tries to blackmail him, but Lester runs him over with about a dozen times him with his car. Next up is an obnoxious, shrill soprano named Alice who never stops singing and likes to be slapped around. I'm guessing this is where the silly original title comes from, which translated to WHEN ALICE BROKE THE MIRROR. Lester finally shuts her up with a whip and dumps her body. The police and TV news seem to be keeping up with the crimes even though Lester appears to be doing a sufficient job of disposing of the bodies. But how?

Well, there's something weird afoot and a copycat killer at work, who seems to be murdering the same people Lester is. In addition, the second killer is leaving behind evidence to implicate him. It's either a doppelganger a la THE STUDENT OF PRAGUE or it's all in Lester's mind. I honestly found it hard to care what was going on; this element to the story is confusing and far less satisfying than the straight murder/gore scenes. There's also Virginia (Zora Kerova), a woman with a badly scared lip who enters Lester's life and seems a little more aggressive than the other victims. Wonder what she's up to?
There are many attempts at black comedy in this one. A few are amusing, most aren't. Lester always seems to have a difficult time disposing of the bodies. One body in a trunk has legs that keep popping out and must be hacked off. A dead body won't sit straight up in his car and keeps falling over when he's pulled over by a cop for speeding. The quality of the photography is a little flat looking (I believe this was made to be shown on Italian TV), but some of the camerawork is alright and there are several memorably gory scenes, most of which ended up in Fulci's NIGHTMARE CONCERT/CAT IN THE BRAIN (1990). Also with Al Cliver, Ria De Simone, Sacha Darwin, Marco Di Stefano and Maurice Poli.

The Shriek Show DVD comes with English dubbed or Italian language/English subtitled options. It also features an audio interview with Fulci, a photo gallery and two filmed interviews, one with Zora Kerova, the other with Fulci film historian Paolo Albiero. There's also a promo trailer and additional trailers for SYNDICATE SADISTS, THE ORACLE, ZOMBI 2 and WARLOCK MOON.


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