Blu-ray Review: Don’t Torture A Duckling

When you take an international cinema class odds are high that your high minded teacher is going to keep going on and on about Fellini, Visconti, Antonioni and Bertolucci. These were the directors who won Oscars and became beloved at Cannes. They were icons of the art houses. But once you get away from the classroom, you discover that there were other names from Italy that made films that packed the grindhouses and packed the cult shelves in cooler videostores. Lucio Fulci was one of those names. He started in the ’60s making comedies, but made his name in the ’70s with giallo and horror. Don’t Torture A Duckling was one of his finest works as it exposes the dark side of a quaint Italian village in the hills.

The small town of Accendura seems to be as colorful as location found in a Fellini movie. There’s happy locals, laughing hookers, the village idiot and pesky kids. Except very quickly it all goes bad when the body of one of the boys is found in a shallow grave. Quickly the town turns angry. Things get more heated when more boys are found dead. Nobody is trusted. Even the ambitious out of town newspaper reporter seems to be a capable of horrific crimes. Is he beating the bushes or muddying the water? The locals do their best to take the law into their own hands which also makes you question of one of the lynchers is the real killer? The best suspect is a rich girl sent to the village by her parents to clean up. She has a tempting scene with a young boy that makes her extra creepy and hard to view as innocent. Is she twisted enough to excited and extinguish children? This is a disturbing and captivating mystery. Will anyone in the village survive?

Don’t Torture a Duckling wasn’t legitimately released in America until 1999 which is a shame since this is Fulci at his finest. However it is easy to understand why exploitation distributors in America might have an issue with the topic of boys being murdered. There’s a Catholic Church angle that might anger your local priest. The scene with Barbara Bouchet (Gangs of New York) naked and teasing a boy would probably have the film shutdown by a local police or at least picketed by your great aunt Blanche. Bouchet is great in the film as a suspect. She’s getting a bit of a revival thanks to this and Arrow’s recent Blu-ray of Red Queen Kills Seven Times. Don’t Torture a Duckling allows Fulci to give us classic view of Italy found in the works of the high brow masters and twist it to the exploitation standards.

The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings out the Italian countryside. The 1080p image allows you to see the gruesome moments so clearly. The audio includes both the Italian and English dub soundtracks in lossless mono. The levels are fine for dialogue and music. The movie is subtitled in English.

DVD features all the elements of the Blu-ray on a lower resolution.

Audio Commentary is provided by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films. His guide to the genre is a great read. He breaks down the film and quotes from Fulci.

Giallo a La Campagna (27:44) is a video discussion with Mikel J. Koven about the genre. What’s really cool is when Koven discusses how Italians at the time enjoyed the third tier cinemas where these films were shown. They were the bars with people going rather often to see their friends and the latest stabbing film.

Hell is Already in Us (20:30) is Kat Ellinger questioning if Fulci’s films are about misogyny. She talks of violence and gender. She explores if this is more of a case of exploring the nightmare and horror of the slasher film. There’s clips from his various films.

Lucio Fulci Remembers (20:13 & 13:12) is an audio tape of Fulci answering questions from journalist Gaetano Mistretta. He goes over his career from comedies and learning from the masters of Italian cinema. There’s quite a bit of talk about him and Dario Argento’s zombie feud. He goes after Argento on a couple fronts. But he loves David Cronenberg. The interview is subtitled with illustrations from his career.

Interviews with Florinda Bolkan(28:20), Sergio D’Offizi (46:21), Bruno Micheli (25:38) and Maurizio Trani (16:03). Bolkan remembers him as peculiar, shy and the devil. She had also starred in Women in a Lizard’s Skin. Sergio discusses his time shooting with Fulci as DP. Editor Bruno’s dad and sister were also filmmakers. His sister set him up with his first job at Technicolor. Trani also came from a film family that lead to his career in make-up.

Arrow Video presents Don’t Torture a Duckling. Directed by: Lucio Fulci. Screenplay by: Lucio Fulci, Roberto Gianviti & Gianfranco Clerici. Starring: Florinda Bolkan, Barbara Bouchet, Tomas Milian, Irene Papas & Marc Porel. Running Time: 105 minutes. Rated: Unrated. Released: September 26, 2017.

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