HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Iceman
Blue Sky
Tokyo Dragon Chef
Pittsburgh
12 Hour Shift
Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud, The
Spoilers, The
Killer Therapy
Man Upstairs, The
Bloodhound, The
New Mutants, The
Tesla
Flame of New Orleans, The
Ham on Rye
Imperial Blue
Tenet
August 32nd on Earth
Don is Dead, The
Seven Sinners
Body of Water
Away
Soul
About Endlessness
Let It Snow
Ava
Deliver Us from Evil
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
Midnight Sky, The
Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, The
Mon Oncle Antoine
Blast of Silence
Blackout, The
Stars in Your Eyes
Alone
Climate of the Hunter
Farewell Amor
Let's Scare Julie
Okko's Inn
Shaolin vs. Wu Tang
Fatman
   
 
Newest Articles
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
Blood Wedding: The Bride with White Hair on Blu-ray
The Inhuman Element: The Ladykillers on 4K UHD
As You Like It, Baby: Breathless on Blu-ray
Stargazing: Light Entertainment Rarities on DVD
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
They're Still Not Sure It is a Baby: Eraserhead on Blu-ray
   
 
  Don't Torture a Duckling Bouchet glams up for Fulci's masterpiece
Year: 1972
Director: Lucio Fulci
Stars: Florinda Bolkan, Barbara Bouchet, Tomas Milian, Irene Papas, Marc Porel
Genre: Horror, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 3 votes)
Review: Whisper this quietly so the gorehounds won’t hear. The late, Lucio Fulci’s zombie movies are overrated exercises in gothic tedium. His gialli are another matter entirely: the stylish Perversion Story (1969), the fantastic A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (1971), and Fulci’s masterpiece, Don’t Torture a Duckling. This haunting giallo works on so many levels, and lingers longer in the memory than the hokey metaphysics of The Beyond (1981).

A small town in southern Italy is shocked by the gruesome murders of several adolescent boys. The local priest, young Don Alberto (Marc Porel) and his mother, Aurelia (Irene Papas) try to keep the outraged populace under control, while the police struggle to catch the killer. Suspicion falls upon two outsiders, both women: restless city girl Patrizia (Barbara Bouchet), a recovering drug addict who flaunts her naked beauty before little boys, and Martiara (Florinda Bolkan), a tortured soul whom townsfolk believe is a witch. Sharp-eyed reporter Andrea Martelli (Tomas Milian) arrives in town and with Patrizia’s aid discovers the disturbing truth behind these horrific events.

Fulci never had a more multi-layered story than this one. Adolescent angst, sexual desire, Catholic guilt, psychological trauma, small town bigotry, superstition, religious dogma versus genuine morality, bourgeois indifference to provincial problems – it’s all here, woven inside a giallo that is gory, provocative and powerfully unsettling. The film benefits from the director’s impeccable staging and painterly eye, but also a strong narrative drive (something he’d lost by the time of his early ’80s horrors). Fulci paints on a broad canvas at first, expanding the giallo murders into a police procedural, and a rural drama with tinges of the supernatural, then slowly narrows his focus upon key characters. “People aren’t worried about their immortal souls”, frets Don Alberto. Fulci had already incurred the wrath of the Catholic Church with his scandalous historical drama Beatrice Cenci (1969), and key elements here seem like a calculated attempt at revenge. What redeems this from simplistic, anti-Catholic rhetoric is a genuine condemnation of ignorance in all its forms. Nothing escapes Fulci’s jaundiced eye: the hysterical villagers are as scary as the psychopathic killer; the police are often insensitive; misconceived ideals of morality leave little time for tolerance.

And yet there is goodness here too, if one overcomes prejudice and looks beneath the surface. A throwaway moment has Aurelia glance disdainfully at Patrizia’s short skirt, only to revise her snap judgement when the city girl buys a thoughtful gift for her mentally handicapped daughter. The use of words like ‘sub-normal’ and ‘retarded’ in describing the child do date the film somewhat. An absence of an Italian track in favour of dubbed English is regrettable, given the subject matter. But – though we don’t hear their real voices – Bolkan and Bouchet perform in English anyway, and aside from one little boy with a strangely deep voice, the effect isn’t too jarring.

It might be Tomas Milian who battles the killer during the memorable finale, but the film belongs to its two fascinating heroines; the strongest, most complex female characters the notoriously misogynistic Fulci ever delivered. Bolkan’s enigmatic madwoman is bitter, delusional, and like many characters here, full of self-loathing. Her tragic fate, set to an acid rock soundtrack, is a horrific tour de force, but for once Fulci’s sadism is emotionally involving, and actually conveys a point about bigotry and vigilante justice. The final touch – tourists speeding past a stricken woman – provides a chilling climax.

Bouchet receives a dreamily erotic intro. A goddess lounging naked in front of an understandably flustered little boy. Bouchet looks gorgeous in every scene, parading some sexy, Seventies fashions, but Patrizia remains an agreeably complex heroine. Sexually provocative, a drug addict, restless and intelligent. She turns to vice only because the mundane everyday fails to stimulate her brain cells. Patrizia flirts with the supernatural then latches onto Andrea as the mystery engages her mind. She’s flighty and flirtatious, but with a kindly streak and is a proactive heroine, selflessly risking her life to save a child.

Don’t Torture a Duckling offers many rewards throughout its compelling narrative. Plus a gut-punch ending that is tense, touching, and poetically twisted. Oh, and being a Fulci film, concludes with someone falling off a cliff and getting their skull smashed to gory bits in glorious slow-motion. Nice.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 4449 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Lucio Fulci  (1927 - 1996)

Italian director whose long career could best be described as patchy, but who was also capable of turning in striking work in the variety of genres he worked in, most notably horror. After working for several years as a screenwriter, he made his debut in 1959 with the comedy The Thieves. Various westerns, musicals and comedies followed, before Fulci courted controversy in his homeland with Beatrice Cenci, a searing attack on the Catholic church.

The 70s and early 80s were marked by slick, hard-hitting thrillers like A Lizard in a Woman's Skin, Don't Torture a Duckling and The Smuggler, while Fulci scored his biggest international success in 1979 with the gruesome Zombie Flesh Eaters. Manhattan Baby, City of the Living Dead, The Beyond and The House by the Cemetery were atmospheric, bloody slices of Gothic horror, and The New York Ripper set a new standard in misogynistic violence. Fulci's last notable film was the truly unique A Cat in the Brain in 1990, a semi-autobiographical, relentlessly gory comedy in which he also starred. Died in 1996 from a diabetic fit after several years of ill-health.

 
Review Comments (2)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
Paul Smith
  Lee Fiveash
   

 

Last Updated: