Tomas Milian and Barbara Bouchet star in Lucio Fulci's grim and realistic Giallo thriller. Blue Underground US R0 DVD release.
a small village in rural Italy, some boys are playing. When one of them
disappears, the press flock to the town as a massive search is carried
out of the local area. A man phones up to ask for a ransom on the boy's
life, but he is arrested and leads them to the body. The townspeople
rise up against him, but he turns out to be an innocent man. After
another body is found, the police become baffled as to the motive and
identity of the killer. City journalist Andrea (Tomas Milian) who is
reporting from the town decides to stay on and investigate the case
Co-written by Gianfranco Clerici (New York Ripper (1982)) and Roberto Gianviti (Lizard in a Woman's Skin (1971)), Don't Torture a Duckling has a completely different atmosphere to many of the other Giallo films that
became popular during the 1970s. Gone is the surrealism and light
comedy - instead we get a very straight forwardly presented, grim thriller that borders on
neo-realism in places, with a very realistic look at small village
life in rural Italy - it is this realism rather than gory effects that make the child murders
so shocking and convincing.
a Giallo mystery, it works very well, with a series of
potential suspects and a fully plausible conclusion - it manages a fair
balance between being able to identify the killer from the clues given,
and yet remaining unpredictable. Although the narrative is generally
straight forward, it does make use of some flashbacks and voice-over
narration that help to clarify a few scenes. A number of very
interesting themes arise in the story, most notable is the
villianisation of people who are charged with a crime, even if they are
never convicted. A curious hint of paedophilia from an older woman
helps to give the film an additional, uncomfortable edge. The pacing is
quite slow but the film never drags, and it builds up to a superb
climax from a scripting perspective, grippingly tense and emotional -
sadly it is let down by some noticably poor special effects, made
rather annoying by the fact that they were completely unnecessary.
direction is generally strong here, helping to capture this sunny
small-town setting and giving the film its all important
atmosphere. The gory effects for which he would become synonymous do
crop up in a particularly savage, and Fulci trademark whipping
sequence, as well as during the film's dramatic finalé - unfortunately
the effects in this latter scene look particularly poor and really
detract from what should have been a superb climactic ending. Why they
chose not to replace these shots with some more long shots during
editing remains baffling. A light Riz Orlandi soundtrack gives the film
a good backing, particularly with the use of contemporary popular music
during one of the film's most brutal sequences.
Tomas Milian had made his name in the late 1960s with a series of
Spaghetti Western roles, and will always be remembered as the Mexican
peasant in the Sergio Sollima trilogy, and in Sergio Corbucci's comic Companeros (1970). However he did appear in many more serious films, including Lucio Fulci's highly rated period work Beatrice Cenci
(1969), and here he gives a very good, if rather understated
performance as a reporter. The stunningly attractive Barbara Bouchet is
very effectively cast as the curious Patrizia, managing to make her
role convincing, and inject it with some suitable menace. There are a
selection of other familiar faces, and some generally good performances
Well written and acted, and boasting some solid direction from Lucio Fulci, Don't Torture a Duckling is certainly one of the most serious, and probably one of the most effective Giallo
films ever made, perfectly balancing the conclusion to be both
surprising, yet entirely plausible. It is only a pity that the climax
is ruined by some horribly inept special effects, that even a casual
viewer would find distacting. Anyone looking to explore Lucio Fulci's
non-horror works will do well to start here, and it is an essential
part of any Giallo collection. Recommended.
Lucio Fulci - the cult favourite horror director, responsible for such films as Zombi 2 (1979) and Murder Rock (1984), but many other films as well, including the bizarre Sword and Scorcery Conquest (1983).
A gory murder.
A short nude scene.
Who is it for?
Fans of Fulci and Giallo films should certainly pick this up.
Original Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colour. Picture
quality is decent, there is little print damage. However it is very
grainy, and there are noticable compression artifacts.
English mono - sounds okay.
The disc includes:
Lucio Fulci biography
Region 0 (ALL) - PAL
Previously available on an identical disc from Anchor Bay USA, and in a dual-pack with City of the Living Dead (1981). Also available on DVD in Italy, with no English options.
Believed to be fully uncut. The print used is English
Well written, acted and directed, although let down by effects, this is one for all Fucli and Giallo fans. Recommended.
The print is far from perfect
but it is watchable, and this is the only English friendly DVD release
available at present. It is a real pity that subtitled Italian audio
was not presented, it would really have helped boost the Italian