Plot: What’s it about?
I feel the need to preface this synopsis with a few facts about this film. Unlike many horror films, this movie has more meaning than you find on the surface, but since this is a DVD review, not a film review, I will not touch on those issues, although they are in fact present. Fulci uses this film to take aim at many subjects, including the Catholic church, so make sure you take it all in, to get the big picture. In any case, here is a quick rundown of the basic storyline. In a small village, a string of brutal killings has the locals up in arms, wondering what the hell is going on. The victims of these crimes are not the usual victims, but very young boys, which pushes the townspeople over the edge. The villagers are not nice people for the most part, as they are very suspicious and desperate for an answer as to who killed the young boys. Enter a reporter who has a nose for discovering the truth and young woman who redefines the word spread, who seem determined to follow the clues until the true killer is uncovered. But even if they discover who the true killer is, will it be anything like what they’re expecting?
This is another release in Anchor Bay’s series of Italian horror discs, and while this film might have its fair share of blood, it’s not just another horror movie. Now of course, there is blood and gore, especially worthy of note is the excellent cliff scene, and director Lucio Fulci makes sure the effects look good and gross, which they do. But this movie isn’t just an excuse to squirt blood and show graphic scenes of violence, this is giallo, so plenty of mystery and suspense is to be found here. While not the finest giallo film in terms of writing, this storyline keeps you interested and proves to be above average at worst. The subject matter is not for the easily offended, but then again, if you’re easily offended, why buy a movie called Don’t Torture A Duckling? The visuals of this film are excellent, especially the outdoor scenes and the countryside scenic shots, much better than you’d expect from a horror flick. Those readers who lean toward horror, especially of the Italian type, will not want to miss this release. This film would also make a good first giallo disc, if you’re just wanting to test the waters.
This film was directed and cowritten by Lucio Fulci, who is well known for his gruesome and sometimes perverse cinematic flare. Fulci’s films usually contain liberal amounts of blood and gore, and even some very innovative effects, such as the woman’s eye being into a wooden shard in the classic Zombie. Even though you might not think using blood or gore effects can be considered innovative, I feel Fulci served as one of the more creative filmmakers when it came to horror. If you’re a fan of the giallo genre, make sure to check out other Fulci films, such as Zombie, City Of The Living Dead, The Beyond, and Giallo a Disco (Slashdance). The cast of this film is centered on more than a couple actors, more of an ensemble cast. Given the nature of this film, I feel their work is good, who knows how hard it was to act under some of the featured conditions. The cast includes Tomas Milian (Fools Rush In, Amistad), Florinda Bolkan (The Damned, White Dunes), Barbara Bouchet (Blood Feast, Sex With A Smile), and Irene Papas (Island, The Message).
Video: How does it look?
Don’t Torture A Duckling is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The image looks much better than you’d expect from an almost thirty year old obscure horror movie, that’s for damn sure. The print is in near pristine condition and compression errors are absent, making for a very good looking transfer. The colors are bright, although the darker tones rule the image, and flesh tones are natural and consistent. The film’s interior scenes are very dark, but the contrast is excellent, and makes sure no detail is lost in the shadows.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio is presented via the original mono track, which despite the inherent limitations of the format, provides a decent audio experience. The dialogue sounds very good, as do the effects, but the music sounds worn down, perhaps due to the age of the track. Given the problems the mono format entails, this mix is quite good, and without major flaws.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This release contains a talent file on Lucio Fulci.