Director – Lucio Fulci
Cast – Tomas Milian, Barbara Bouchet, Florinda Bolkan, Irene Papas, Marc Porel, Georges Wilson, Antonello Campodifiori, Ugo D’Alessio, Virgilio Gazzolo
Release Year – 1972
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Don’t Torture a Duckling is a film that stuck with me for years before I got the chance to view the film due to its awesome title alone, which was only made even more awesome when the name “Lucio Fulci” appeared as “Director” during the opening credits(which I already knew, but yeah). One of his personal favorite films under his direction, Fulci gives us a gutsy tale delving into child murder and as usual delivers a strong approach in his direction, making for one of the giallo sub-genre’s most stand-out and controversial films.
When a small town outside of Sicily, Italy suffers a string of heinous child murders, reporter Andrea Martelli leads a personal investigation into the murders. With numerous suspects and each of them with nothing in common, the case proves baffling to Andrea and the local authorities who must act quickly if they wish to stop a psychotic killer who continues to slay the town’s children.
Leave it to Lucio Fulci(The Beyond, Zombie, City of the Living Dead, The New York Ripper, The Psychic) to give us such a macabre tale for its time, delving into a heavy taboo that is still hard for the average person to take in today: the killing of a child. We have been given horror films that give us the killing of children, but most of them focus on children killing adults, which result in the killing of the children. Well that is not the case with this one; because in this effort the children are targeted and that makes this a film you will never forget, whether you like it or not; and THAT is Lucio Fulci for you.
I personally loved this storyline, which gives us the usual giallo template of an investigative reporter/detective trying desperately to uncover the mystery behind a series of gruesome murders, and it absolutely works well for this effort. The child killing element was what really sold this storyline to me, as it gave me something that I not only rarely see but something sure to keep you engaged due to the extreme subject matter, in which I must applaud Fulci over and over for giving me a very interesting storyline. The mystery element was great, giving us a slew of potential suspects ranging from a mysterious heathen/witch, a priest, and a seductive woman, with each of them bringing their own positives to the film as we are thankfully given no useless characters. I was unsure as to how many kills we would be given, as well as how strong the nature of them would be, but I was glad to see that we were given plenty of kills with them being of satisfying nature, although not as full-frontal as I expected (I guess Fulci did have a heart). The storyline really is a simple one that comes with enough creativity and mystery to make for an engaging experience, but Fulci does not disappoint giallo fans and gives us a shocking climax whose gory antics makes for one of the coolest horror climaxes I have ever seen.
This being one of Fulci’s favorite films, you can bet your arse his direction is as good as ever. From the get-go he sets awesome atmosphere for this grisly tale, making the most of the long, beautiful landscape and gives us a chilling musical score to further sell the atmosphere. He execution of the horror is awesome as usual, giving us the child-killing mayhem in shocking yet still tasteful fashion by mostly showing us the grisly remains of the children after they were killed. As expected, we do get a fair amount of gore in the film, but the nature of the kills keeps the gore at bay until the tremendous climax that continually pounds on the gore until the credits role; typical Fulci awesomeness.
Overall, Lucio Fulci’s Don’t Torture a Duckling is one of the most controversial and notable giallo films of all time due to its strong subject matter and gritty execution from the “Godfather of Gore”. While not overly hard-to-watch for today’s minds, the impact this film brings has been strong enough to conquer the test of time, making for a highly recommended watch for those of you who want to see a controversial yet classy horror effort.