A great giallo...and so much more!
Stephen Gladwin | USA | 05/28/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Don't be put off by the weird title (although it is a rather typical giallo title), this is Fulci in high-gear. If there is one movie in Fulci's vast filmography that truly proves him as a talented and worthy director, this would be it. It's got it all (well, almost): a great story that transcends typical giallo trappings (such as close-ups of a gleaming knife and many nubile female victims), great casting and acting/writing (heck, even the dubbing isn't TOO bad) and terrific atmosphere. And best of all, Fulci doesn't go overboard with the gore and violence (like he so gleefully did in such films as "The Beyond"). Yep, when the gore and violence shows up, it's much more powerful and emotionally wrenching, because Fulci paints some wonderful characters worthy of our sympathy. Contrary to popular belief, this film has a surprising amount of heart and warmth for a Fulci film. The story is also tremendous. It concerns a small, backwards Italian village shattered by a trio of savage child murders. Fulci uses this storyline as a springboard for social commentary concerning the devestating effects of crime on a sensitive and simple-minded populace. There really are very few false notes of characterization in the film, and the motivations of the characters ring true (so unlike typical giallo cinema). Fulci's fascination and obssession of the evil and brutality that mankind is capable of is much more compellingly portrayed here than in any other of his films. Another facet of the film that boosts this past many other Fulci outings is the terrific cinematography (courtesy of Sergio D'Offizi) and sure-footed direction by Fulci. Fulci's direction is a breath of fresh air compared to static and sluggishly filmed American mysteries, as his mobile camera always keeps one's interest and dazzles the eye, even in the most mundane of scenes. The cinematography also brings the village to life, exposing its natural splendor and its grimy poverty, creating a living, breathing world. If there are any factors that detract from one's enjoyment of the film (and that keep it from five stars) it would be the sometimes slow pacing. While Fulci keeps things moving with his swift camera hand, nevertheless the plot can drag, no doubt due to the myriad of plot twists (another familiar giallo trait). Also, the film is less an assault on the senses as Fulci's horror films, and it works in a slower, dreamier way, which may turn some viewers off who are expecting a blood drenched giallo, Fulci style. No, this is a film that doesn't take the easy way out (in it's characters or in it's plotting) by assaulting the viewer with non-stop gore and violence, and this is why it is one of Fulci's most accomplished efforts. Here we see Fulci in top form as a director who is able to weave a unique and controversial tale with style and audacity. Highly recommended."
Brilliant Psychosocial Giallo
Daniel Kepley | Viola, DE USA | 01/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING is a rare bird in Lucio Fulci's very gilded cage of horror. Made a good seven years before his gorefests, starting with the excellent ZOMBIE, that defined his reputation here in America and the rest of the world, DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING is just as intense and brutal, if a bit less gruesome, than the typical Fulci fan is used to. Yet still in all, the story alone (co-written by Fulci) is as much a testament to Fulci's uncompromising and gutsy approach to horror and suspense as any gore scene in his later films (two scenes ended up starting off two later Fulci films). Hell, even the great Dario Argento says that this is one of Fulci's best films (it says so on the cover), and after my first viewing of DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING on New Year's Eve, I can see why; I also saw a lot of George Romeroesque social commentary in this film.
Child murders and disappearances are very galvanizing experiences for any society, especially in a town like in this movie. Everybody is desperate for answers as to who would do such a horrible thing. There have even been a few cases where some townspeople resort to vigilante behavior towards a suspect to satisfy their need for justice. Fulci handles this story in a surprisingly tasteful matter, with only two instances of violence against children; the fact that little boys are being murdered is shocking enough!
There are no likeable characters in the village, which makes the story more immediate and brutal. Even the little boys that are the targets of murder are portrayed as nasty (e.g., spying on naked people, killing animals with slingshots). The recent scandal with Michael Jackson gives more importance to the story arc involving Patrizia, whom one of the boys sees naked. The only character with any appeal is the reporter Andrea Martelli, who is covering the murders. That character is like the outsider that Argento gets you to identify with in his movies, and that plot device works wonders in this story.
The chain-whipping of a local Wiccan by three men as pop music plays from a car radio is the most psychosocially relevant scene in horror history. It speaks volumes about how far some people will go to achieve a degree of justice in the wake of horrible crimes. In this case, these men are driven by superstition since the woman claimed to have placed a spell on the boys because they were messing around her property. That entire sequence, appropiately hard to watch and grisly, tells you all about the moral decay of the entire village. Fulci also used a chain-whipping scene to kick off THE BEYOND, my favorite Fulci film, and it holds the same meaning.
*SPOILER ALERT* We all know how terrifying killers are in slasher movies, but imagine the killer being somebody who should protect you-such as a Clergyman. Just as Romero has always taken potshots at the military (e.g., THE CRAZIES, DAY OF THE DEAD), so Fulci knocks organized religion front and center here. The ultimate motivation behind the killings is a shocking one because it is so misguided. In fact, the eventual demise of the killer (reused for SEVEN NOTES IN BLACK/THE PSYCHIC) is all the more shocking when juxtaposed with some other footage. This plot point has more shock value in the wake of the scandal with the Catholic church of last year! I have never been stunned by a horror film since childhood until this one!
If DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING were to be released in theaters today, it would generate a major firestorm of controversy, especially in light of the aforementioned events in the media. Yes, this movie was definitely too strong for Europeans to stomach back in 1972 (it didn't get released elsewhere at that time) and it remains potent today. A gritty and ground-breaking giallo, Lucio Fulci's DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING is a definite must-watch!"
Don't Torture A Duckling, classic Italian giallo
S. Richardson | Shropshire, England | 06/12/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Lucio Fulci's Don't Torture A Duckling is a superb little giallo. It features a haunting score, beautiful cinematography, a gripping storyline about the murder of young boys. As the body count increases so do the number of leads and red herrings. A superb little film with a great sense of atmosphere. There is a powerful scene, one of such brutality but it remains integral to the plot. Overall I'd give this film 5/5, the films transfer onto DVD is quite brilliant with hardly any problems, there were only a few hairs and scratches visible for a very short period of time. The transfer looks beautiful, you can hardly believe the film is so old. The sound was fine on the disc, the film has a great music score. The film has no extras but who cares, when a film is this good I don't give a damn about extras. Check this film out if you like good murder mysteries or are a fan of Italian giallo films. This film doesn't rely on the heavy gore techniques that Fulci would use later in his career. Instead the film concentrates on it's characters and the atmosphere. Highly Recommended.I'd also recommend Fulci's A Lizard in a Woman's Skin."
Great Looking Giallo - Fulci in Fine Form
frankenberry | Los Angeles, CA USA | 05/28/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This 1972 giallo by Fulci may disappoint fans of his later gore films (although there is a bit of grue in this one as well), but it's a must for fans of euro-horror and giallos. This widescreen 2.35:1 presentation on DVD from Anchor Bay is a triumphant visual experience. Fulci shows that he can use the camera's eye as a canvas...filling each side of the image with a character or action....if you've only seen this film in a pan and scan bootleg, you're missing half the picture! It's a joy to see it in the correct aspect ratio -- it's stunning especially since it's 2.35. The film itself is fun as a standard giallo, albeit a bit more grim than usual, and includes some nudity (Bouchet), gore, and another great wide-eyed performance from Florinda Bolkan. Young boys are being murdered in a small village...who can the killer be? And what the heck does Donald Duck have to do with it all? Watch it and find out! The DVD is a very basic package from AB --- the only extra is the Fulci bio-info that is on some of the other Fulci discs. So the movie is the key here -- and although there is some graininess here and there --- you shouldn't be disappointed. Who would have ever thought someone would be releasing such titles on DVD? Accolades to Anchor Bay!"