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Don't Torture a Duckling (1972) - Blu-ray Review

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Don't Torture a Duckling (1972) - Blu-ray Review

5 beersWhen done correctly, the giallo can be quite the cinematic experience.  And Italian filmmaker Lucio Fulci has his fair share of effective thrillers.  He also can’t escape the occasional dud either.  That's not what we have here, though.  Not at all.  Combining a mood-stirring thriller element with an effective mystery inside a rural Italian community, Don’t Torture a Duckling might just be his very best effort at doing something unique within the giallo.  It is, at least, his most effective at carrying out a theme as he strikes a significant blow at the Catholic Church with the components of this giallo and provides a social commentary on how devastatingly cruel our paternal society actually is. 

Arrow Video, with yet another brilliant 2K restoration and Blu-ray release, is definitely going to bring new fans to Fulci’s impressive filmography.  Ever wondered to yourself about how Tarantino lists him as an influence?  The answer is here.  Don’t Torture a Duckling looks wholly brand-new again.  In fact, due to the original use of cheap Technicolor print stock, there’s a chance that, thanks to some steady color re-timing for its 1080p debut, the film has never looked this beautiful before.  That’s how amazing this new HD transfer is.

Don’t Torture a Duckling is certainly is up there with some of Fulci’s best-known releases, including A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, Zombi 2, and The Beyond, but it actually surpasses a lot of his later works thanks to its commitment to the fullness of a murder mystery at the hands of a black-gloved killer and a list of suspects that makes us, especially in a modern day viewing, question our own morals.  In it a series of disturbing child murders rock a rural community and all signs point to the craziest of the crazy.  Is it Giuseppe Barra (Vito Passeri), the village idiot?  Is it Maciara (Florinda Bolkan), the local witch?  Or – dun dun dunnn – is it someone else?

Featuring performances from Tomas Milian as a reporter out to find the culprit responsible for the deaths of all the boys and Barbara Bouchet as the big city sex-kitten who lets a VERY interested boy ogle her naked body, Don’t Torture a Duckling has all of the standard giallo traits.  It is also notable for its use of strong rural settings as we typically get the big, bad city as the backdrop for the murders.  This film changes it up, though, and opens on an expansive highway, which connects city to city.  We see a woman digging until her fingers bleed in an attempt to recover the bones of a child.  And, in such a manner, the mystery of the movie begins.

But it is what happens below the bridge that is the meat of the matter.  The villagers represent the immediate past and, as outlandish as some of them are, they easily fall-in-line with the ancient belief of witches.  And their punishment is a cruel one indeed.  Cold-blooded and direct, this way of life is immediately countered by Bouchet’s tempting ways as the urban and rural environments clash time and time again.  And it is the Catholic Church, represented here by Don Alberto Avallone (Marc Poreli) and his weird mother Aurelia (Irene Papas), who watches over all.

The trick to the appreciation of this title is in understanding that no one – and I do mean no one – is innocent; not even the boys who smoke and lust after all sorts of women in the sleepy rural village of Accendura.  The sin – original and otherwise - lies within us all.  And it is loudly proclaimed with a two swift thumps to the chest by the wicked events documented within Don’t Torture a Duckling, one of Fulci’s misunderstood and often ill-regarded classic titles.  Arrow Video continues to do the giallo proud with this restoration.

Don't Torture a Duckling (1972) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
102 mins
Director
: Lucio Fulci
Writer:
Lucio Fulci and Roberto Gianviti and Gianfranco Clerici
Cast:
Florinda Bolkan, Barbara Bouchet, Tomas Milian
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
A film by Lucio Fulci.
Memorable Movie Quote: "The male population is on the rise again."
Theatrical Distributor:
No U.S. theatrical release.
Official Site:
Release Date:
May 23, 2000 (video premiere)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 3, 2017
Synopsis: When the sleepy rural village of Accendura is rocked by a series of murders of young boys, the superstitious locals are quick to apportion blame, with the suspects including the local “witch”, Maciara (Florinda Bolkan, A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin). With the bodies piling up and the community gripped by panic and a thirst for bloody vengeance, two outsiders – city journalist Andrea (Tomas Milian, The Four of the Apocalypse) and spoilt rich girl Patrizia (Barbara Bouchet, The Red Queen Kills Seven Times) – team up to crack the case. But before the mystery is solved, more blood will have been spilled, and not all of it belonging to innocents...

Don't Torture a Duckling (1972) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Arrow
Available on Blu-ray
- October 3, 2017
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
Italian: LPCM Mono; English: LPCM Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set; DVD copy
Region Encoding: Region A, B

This two-disc, dual layered release from Arrow Video is absolutely the best the film has EVER looked or WILL ever look. Presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio, the film is blistering with pulpy goodness. Black levels are extensive and full of hard edges. There’s color bursting from each corner of Rome. Architecture is stunningly detailed. Flesh is supple and perfectly toned. There are visible fibers in clothing and the there’s a new vibrancy to the picture. The whole thing feels energized and absolutely alive; there's no dated aspect to it.  Even the art gallery at the beginning and end of the movie looks absolutely cosmic.  The sound is presented in your choice of either Italian or English 1.0 DTS or 1.0 Dolby Digital.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  •  Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films provides the NEW feature length commentary.  It is key to appreciating this often unfairly dismissed film.

Special Features:

Arrow Video is where it is at when it comes to releasing the giallo on Blu-ray.  They have yet to disappoint.  Alongside their restoration and Blu-ray/DVD release of this classic is a new video discussion with Mikel J. Koven, a new video essay by critic Kat Ellinger, interviews with co-writer/director Lucio Fulci, actor Florinda Bolkan, cinematographer Sergio D’Offizi, assistant editor Bruno Micheli and assistant makeup artist Maurizio Trani, and new art.  This includes a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Timothy Pittides and, with the first pressing only, a collector’s booklet with new writing on the film by Barry Forshaw and Howard Hughes.

  • The Blood of Innocents (28 min)
  • Every (Wo)man Their Own Hell (20 min)
  • Interview with Lucio Fulci (40 min)
  • Interview with actor Florinda Bolkan (28 min)
  • Interview with cinematographer Sergio D Offizi (46 min)
  • Interview with assistant editor Bruno Micheli (26 min)
  • Interview with assistant makeup artist Maurizio Trani (16 min)

Don't Torture a Duckling (1972) - Blu-ray Review

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