Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972)
Directed by Lucio Fulci
Starring Florinda Bolkan, Barbara Bouchet, Tomas Milian, Irene Papas, Marc Porel, Vito Passeri
I can still remember when I first got hold of a bootleg copy of this rare (at the time) Fulci film. This was at a time in my career as a horror fan that I only knew Fulci from his gore films such as Zombie, The Beyond, and such. So it was quite a surprise seeing something so different than what I was used to. Plus, it also showed me just how a skilled craftsman Fulci was before he became known for just his gory films. This is a grim tale of a small Italian village where someone is killing young boys. Several people seem suspicious, some are even accused and bad things happen. Fulci shows us a darker side of humanity, while still being able to weave together a great little giallo.
For me, the most memorable part of this movie is the performance of Bolkan. Without going into any details which would spoil it for anybody who hasn’t seen it, but it is highly effective and very hard to forget. The cast of children do a good job in what they have to do, especially when reacting to a completely naked Barbara Bouchet! That kid has to have some fond childhood memories (though technically the child actor was never there with the naked actress). Bouchet teams up with Milian who plays a reporter, who tries to get to the bottom of these tragic deaths before more innocent people die.
With an amazing score by Riz Ortolani, Fulci really shows just how good he was when it comes to filmmaking. It really is a shame that he wasn’t able to continue to show his talent later in his career, mainly due to lack of budget. This incredible disc from Arrow shows the film in all its beauty, both visually and in its dark tone. This disc has a very interesting and informative commentary from Troy Howarth, author of not only the So Deadly, So Perverse book series, but also Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films. I will say that Troy is a friend of mine, but that really has nothing to do with my following comments. Troy not only knows his stuff when it comes to Italian cinema, but I really enjoy listening to his commentaries. It shows me right away just how little I know about these films! I really like how he doesn’t just cover the film but also goes off on little bits of information and trivia about people involved with the movie we’re watching. An example of this when he points out who the voice actors are that not only dubbed the actors in this movie, but also what other films they worked on. As someone who has watched his fair share of Italian films, you would always hear certain voices every now and then, where you think “hey…it’s that voice again!” So kudos to Troy for throwing a little credit their way.
The disc also comes with a interesting and well put together video discussion called The Blood of the Innocents, by Mikel J. Koven, another author who knows his history. Another video essay by critic Kat Ellinger is also well worth your time.
But the interview with Lucio Fulci is a real treat here. We get to hear from the Maestro himself, talking about a variety of subjects. It’s so great to see some footage of this man documented for fans to see, 20 years after his death. There is also interviews with actress Florinda Bolkan, cinematographer Sergio D’Offizi, assistant editor Bruno Micheli, and assistant makeup artist Maurizio Trani.
So it’s pretty obvious that if you’re a Fulci fan, this release is a must. But if you’re not, then I still would recommend it because it is simply a great piece of Italian cinema.