Don't Torture A Duckling
Special Edition, 2-Disc Special Edition
DVD + Blu-ray
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From Lucio Fulci, the godfather of gore (The Psychic, The Beyond), comes one of the most powerful and unsettling giallo thrillers ever produced: his 1972 masterpiece Don t Torture a Duckling.
When the sleepy rural village of Accendura is rocked by a series of murders of young boys, the superstitious locals are quick to apportion blame, with the suspects including the local witch , Maciara (Florinda Bolkan, A Lizard in a Woman s Skin). With the bodies piling up and the community gripped by panic and a thirst for bloody vengeance, two outsiders city journalist Andrea (Tomas Milian, The Four of the Apocalypse) and spoilt rich girl Patrizia (Barbara Bouchet, The Red Queen Kills Seven Times) team up to crack the case. But before the mystery is solved, more blood will have been spilled, and not all of it belonging to innocents...
Deemed shocking at the time for its brutal violence, depiction of the Catholic Church and themes of child murder and paedophilia, Don t Torture a Duckling is widely regarded today as Fulci's greatest film, rivalling the best of his close rival Dario Argento. Arrow Video is proud to present this uniquely chilling film in its North American high definition debut.
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A killer is at large in a rural Italian village, stalking only young boys and leaving their lifeless - but unmolested - bodies for the authorities and press and discover. The suspects pile up quickly: Patrizia (Barbara Bouchet), an urban outsider and sexual tease....Maciara (Florinda Balkan), a wandering witch doctor...and Guiseppe, the village idiot always teased by the local kids. Andrea (Tomas Milian) is a reporter who, in true giallo fashion, suspects the cops are missing vital clues and begins to search for the murder on his own.
Don't Torture a Duckling's pre-pubescent victims and a rather daring religious angle make for a much more serious thriller than the slick, urban nightmares of A Lizard in a Women's Skin, which Fulci shot just the year before. Although the narrative is arranged in typical giallo fashion, the rural setting is fairly unique to the genre and gives the movie a drastically different vibe. Ironically, it feels more authentically Italian, something most Italian films tried to avoid at all costs.
But that doesn't mean it's not without its exploitive appeal. And Bouchet's opening nude scene, in which she flaunts her body in front of one of the neighborhood kids, is a doozy. Like Sharon Stone's manipulative interrogation in Basic Instinct, Bouchet has complete control of the room...yet the context of the scene, seducing an underage boy, is something only the Italians would attempt.
Fulci makes a great case for any of his red herrings to be the murderer, investing some real character-building moments along the way. And his approach to violence is - for the most part - surprisingly mature. Case in point, a mid-film beating suffered by Maciara showcases all the glorious bloodletting the director would become famous for in the '80s, but sets it against an ironic pop song that changes - and intensifies - the meaning of the scene. It's certainly one of Fulci's finest moments...but that doesn't stop him from laying down some unjustified splatter in the final reel just for good measure.
Arrow Video finally brings the film onto hi-def with a dual format Blu-ray / DVD set that looks wonderful and comes with its own set of extras, including a new commentary by Troy Howarth, video discussion with author Mikel J. Koven and video essay with Kat Ellinger, who focuses on Fulci's reputation for misogyny. There is also a set of audio interview with Fulci himself along with new artwork on the collector's case.
Lucio Fulci has a varied career of cinematic weirdness, which ranges from gory zombie flicks, psycho slashers and quirky Giallos. This time around my review is going to about a quirky Giallo named Don’t Torture a Duckling. If you’re wondering what this little Duckling is about, it’s a convoluted, red herring filled murder mystery where it will leave you rightfully confused all the way to the end.
Lucio Fulci has decided that he was going to write and direct a murder mystery that was going to be filled with so much random shit, it almost comes across as comical. We have a mysterious woman who practices black magic, who may or may not be using the magic to kill the local boys. We have the weird loony who doesn’t like the local boys. We have the gorgeous Barbara Bouchet, who fancies the local boys a bit too much, as in entering possible jailtime territory. All of it is mixed together and thrown at the wall, hoping that it sticks.
Does the messy story work? Surprisingly enough, it does. There is a lot that is not needed, which makes the story harder to follow, but in the end, once the killer is revealed, it all works in the end. The lunacy that is thrown into the flick, like the witch, is placed there to convey the town’s craziness and out of touch morals. It also allows for Fulci to shoot a very graphic scene that is somewhat hard to watch.
Short answer Don’t Torture a Duckling is classic Fulci all the way. It’s a twisty, loopy story that packs in an abundance of quirky characters, but keeps the viewers in the dark as to who is behind the madness. It’s a fun ride.
This is a Fulci flick, so there is some graphic violence on display here. We have children being murdered, a woman being savagely beaten and also a death that is hilarious looking, but explicit as well.
Barbara Bouchet provides all the nudity in this flick, and it’s glorious. She is a drop-dead gorgeous.
The hilarious, cheesy death scene. I won’t spoil it.
Barbara Bouchet. Beyond interesting actually.
Was I this horny as a twelve-year-old boy?
Arrow Video has done a splendid job on the video transfer for the movie. It’s so clear and pristine in places. The booklet in the package provides a lot of information on the transfer, so much information, in fact, it seems like Arrow Video is coming across as apologising for any issues, but I see no problems with this one.
Audio is also near perfect, with both a lossless Italian and English track. No complaints from this easy to impress reviewer.
Special Features are filled with plenty of interviews. We get an enjoyable older audio interview with Fulci. I liked the essay about Fulci’s problems of being labelled as a misogynistic director. She provides plenty of pointers that show you that he wasn’t misogynistic at all. I also admire the lovely cardboard sleeve supplied with the package. I know, small things impress me.
Don’t Torture a Duckling might be utterly confusing and convoluted at times, but Fulci has a certain quirkiness and raw grittiness in his films, that makes you always end up liking it and this film is no different. Arrow Video racks up another top Blu-ray in their ever-growing library of amazing releases.
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