JULY 11 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING
From Lee Peterson fearsmag.com
Best-known for his early '80's gore classics (Zombie , City of the Living Dead , The Beyond ), Lucio Fulci directed over 50 films in his career, spanning the genres of comedy, mystery, gangster epics, even (shudder!) kids' films. Following his completely whacked masterpiece, Lizard in a Woman's Skin , Fulci took a stab at the giallo genre, which was reaching the heights of its popularity. All the conventions (some would say cliches) inherent in the giallos are here: an unseen killer, a cast full of suspects, and lots of red herrings on the way to a surprise ending.
A series of heinous child murders in a rural Italian village has the superstitious townspeople thirsting for revenge. A tabloid newspaper reporter (Tomas Milian of Django Kill...If You Live, Shoot! ) and a mysterious redhead (Casino Royale 's Miss Moneypenny, Barbara Bouchet) join forces to solve the mystery, and hopefully eliminate themselves as prime suspects.
Scripted by Fulci with Roberto Gianviti (Fulci's One on Top of the Other ) and Gianfranco Clerici (House on the Edge of the Park ), Don't Torture a Duckling is pretty rough stuff. Although the child killings occur offscreen, the aftermaths are often gruesome. Perhaps more controversially, a scene that features a stark naked Bouchet playfully cock-teasing a 12-year-old boy could not be done in today's repressed, "protect the children" climate.
Fulci's penchant for surreal, nightmarish imagery is kept in check, though there are a couple of pretty savage set-pieces for the gorehounds (including the prolonged torture of a gypsy woman that pre-figures the opening torture scene ofThe Beyond).
Anchor Bay Entertainment presents Don't Torture a Duckling (aka Non Si Sevizia Un Paperino ) in a beautiful, uncut, widescreen (2.35:1, 16X9 enhanced) DVD transfer that blows away the bootlegs we've always settled for. There is some minor digital artifacting during night scenes, but it's hardly worth complaining about. Sergio D'Offici (Cannibal Holocaust)''s lush cinematography is crisp and clear, and the gorgeous Italian landscapes nearly jump out at you. The Dolby Digital Mono track is excellent, and showcases Riz Ortolani's Bernard Herrmann-ish score nicely.
Unusual for an Anchor Bay release, Don't Torture a Duckling is presented as a bare-bones release, the sole extra being a "talent bio" for Fulci.
If you're wondering what all the Fulci fuss is about, check out City of the Living Dead or Zombie for a prime introduction. For the already initiated, Anchor Bay's American video debut of Don't Torture a Duckling is another essential DVD and one more reason for rejoicing.