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on 27 February 2010
Lucio Fulci is considered by some to be a pioneer in exploitation, others often dismissed him as a talentless hack, plagiarising the success of more talented artists. Perhaps most known for his gruesome zombie classics City of the Living Dead, The Beyond, The House By the Cemetery and Zombi 2, Fulci had spent the latter half of his career cementing his reputation as the `godfather of gore.' But a few years before finding international success as a regular on the UK's `video nasty' list, he had directed three dark and seductive giallo thrillers, 1969's Una sull'altra (aka Perversion Story), 1971's Una lucertola con la pelle di donna (A Lizard in a Woman's Skin) and Non si sevizia un paperino (Don't Torture a Duckling), released the following year. Although they would feature the trademark nihilism and brutality which his fans have come to expect, his gialli were also beautifully constructed and nightmarish experiments in twisted narratives and perverse violence.

In 1970, the Italian film industry would take a dramatic turn and become obsessed with giallo, a type of thriller that had been inspired by old pulp novels of the thirties. Heralded by Dario Argento's brilliant debut film L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage), many filmmakers would suddenly turn to the horror genre and soon the market became flooded with variations of the formula, including Sergio Martino's Lo strano vizio della Signora Wardh (The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh), Aldo Lado's La corta notte delle bambole di vetro (Short Night of the Glass Dolls) and Giuliano Carnimeo's Perché quelle strane gocce di sangue sul corpo di Jennifer? (The Case of the Bloody Iris). Fulci had always been one to sense a new fad and would instantly jump onto the bandwagon, and so followed A Lizard in a Woman's Skin with Don't Torture a Duckling, which may have utilised such plot points as voodoo dolls and killer priests but would still follow the detective template that had become a standard of the genre since the release of Mario Bava's Blood and Black Lace almost a decade earlier.

A series of child disappearances in a rural Italian village and soon the local authorities draw up a list of suspects, including a supposed witch and a creepy Peeping Tom, but each time the police think that they have the assailant the real killer strikes again. This concept of one antagonist constantly replacing the last was previously used by Bava in his 1971 Twitch of the Death Nerve, although the lack of sympathetic characters makes it difficult to distinguish the hero from the villain. It would not be until 1979's Zombi 2 that Fulci would become obsessed with images of torn flesh and spilt guts and so Don't Torture a Duckling would not be as gruesome as his later work, instead focusing on the children who are targeted by the mysterious killer and the investigation that attempts to save them. Less convoluted but equally bizarre than his eighties output, Don't Torture a Duckling would still be a confrontational and great disturbing masterpiece.

Don't Torture a Duckling made its first public screening on September 29 1972 and gained mostly favorable reviews from the Italian critics, although due to its content it would remain unavailable in the United States for over thirty years. Despite its literal translation of Non si sevizia un paperino being Don't Torture Donald Duck, the filmmakers wisely avoided a lawsuit from Disney by changing the title to avoid any references to the famous character. Whilst never receiving the kind of cult appeal that his later efforts such as Zombi 2 (which was banned in Britain under the catchier title, Zombie Flesh Eaters) and The Beyond received, Don't Torture a Duckling remained Fulci's favorite of his own films and has steadily grown a loyal fanbase over the years, proving to be one of the director's most underrated films alongside A Lizard in a Woman's Skin and 1977's Sette note in nero (The Psychic). So if your a Fulci fan make sure that you don't miss this brilliant Giallo film from the godfater of gore, I highly recommend this!.
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on 9 November 2007
I haven't spent much time watching giallos, not for any particular reason really; I just haven't got around to them yet. I decided to start (again) with Lucio Fulci's "Don't Torture a Duckling." This is a rare film that I believe Fulci haters will tend to enjoy,

In a small village in southern Italy, young preadolescent boys are turning up dead from strangulation. Evidence points to a number of possible suspects, especially the local "witch," Martiara (Florinda Bolkan), whose voodoo practices and possible insanity make her a likely candidate. But what about Patrizia (Barbara Bouchet), the bored city girl hiding out after a drug scandal, who now passes the time by flaunting her naked body in front of children? The local Catholic Church, headed by young Don Alberto (The Psychic's Marc Porel) and his mother, Aurelia (Irene Papas), tries to keep the population under control, but even the local police are baffled by the case. A reporter from the north, Andrea (Tomas Milian), comes to investigate and recruits Patrizia to discover some genuinely ugly truths about the quiet provincial town.

There really isn't much gore except for two scenes; that of a woman being beaten with a chain and a man scraping his face down the side of a cliff (ouch!). This is probably my favorite Lucio Fulci film being that I did not enjoy The House By the Cemetery and Zombi 2 (25th Anniversary Special Edition 2-Disc Set) I enjoyed the acting, especially the man who played the priest, who is a dead ringer for Orlando Bloom (just in looks, though, not in lack of acting skill, thank goodness!). The rest of the cast did an excellent job as well, even the children.

This is a disturbing film, but not the typical slasher flick. Since it is a giallo, it is more murder-mystery than horror. If you're a fan of Italian horror and Fulci I would say to watch this movie, The Italian title is "Non si sevizia un paperino," which literally translates to "Don't Torture Donald Duck." Most people assume the name was changed to Don't Torture a Duckling because of licensing issues. A small Donald Duck shows up at one of the bodies although I still fail to see how this was enough to name the movie. I like to give extra thanks to Dave K. and M. for giving me that second push on Fulci because if it wasn't for them I would of givin up on this director a long time ago.
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on 19 January 2014
This film is a total classic and it's not only for horror-fans of Lucio Fulci. It is layered and concerned with deep social and cultural issues, like the abuse, power and sexual repression of the Church, the sexual arrogance of the new middle class, the relationship between modernisation and traditional culture in Southern Italy, the interconnection between magic and religion, the scapegoating of women (and of children), and more.... But it succeeds at touching these themes within the typical Giallo style and structure, which make it very compelling and 'fun' to watch. There a few really disturbing scenes... And I don't mean the gory ones. Just go and watch it.
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on 19 September 2007
The story..A police investigation is started when several young boys are found murdered in a remote village. An out of town reporter arrives to cover the story and help find the person responsible for the crimes...
Lucio Fulci's "Don't Torture A Duckling" came soon after his very impressive "Lizard In A Womans Skin" and I actually prefer this to that high class film. The quality cast here includes Tomas Milian, Florinda Bolkan and the ultra sexy Barbara Bouchet. There's also a brilliant eerie score by Riz Ortolani (Cannibal Holocaust). Fulci's direction is on top form as he creates tension and twists throughout in this superior and stylish Giallo. Gore fans expecting "Zombie" and "The Beyond" type violence will be disappointed and there's very little here. This succeeds and shines on style, atmosphere and mystery, but you do get a gory chain whipping scene (think the intro of "The Beyond"). Overall this is an excellent film recommended to all. And For me it proves that Fulci could make Gialli as good as anyone in the genre.
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on 17 May 2010
Italian horror maestro Lucio Fulci's third giallo film is one of his best and perhaps one of his most deeply disturbing movies. Set in and around a rural Italian village, the story is about a deranged serial killer (aren't they all?) whose victims are adolescent boys. There are some complex themes running through this film and there is the usual line-up of potential suspects and red herrings. The excellent cast includes Tomas Milian (from Fulci's "Beatrice Cenci" and "The Four Of The Apocalypse"), Florinda Bolkan (from Fulci's "A Lizard In A Woman's Skin") and the gorgeous Barbara Bouchet.

This film contains some memorable scenes including a couple of gruesome set-pieces that were recreated in two later Fulci films - a chain-whipping sequence also features in "The Beyond" and a scene where someone falls off a cliff and is smashed up also features in "The Psychic". This movie also shares certain themes with Fulci's "The New York Ripper", so it offers us a few tasters of things to come with regards to Fulci's cinematic repertoire.

Barbara Bouchet, one of the most beautiful women ever, in my opinion, does a tantalising nude scene and this alone would make this film worth watching but there are also many other qualities that this film possesses. The film is well-written, well-acted and beautifully-photographed and the music score by Riz Ortolani features a haunting, child-like main theme.

"Don't Torture A Duckling" is certainly one of the better examples of early-1970s giallo cinema and (dare I say it?) is more interesting than most of Dario Argento's giallo movies! Track this one down but be prepared for a shocking and disturbing viewing experience.
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VINE VOICEon 30 January 2010
... do watch this film. Despite a title oddly reminscent of the 80s `video nasty' era (`Don't Go Near The Park', `Don't Answer The Phone', `Don't Go In The House', `Don't Forget To Feed The Goldfish'... all right, I may have made the last one up), this is in fact early 70s Fulci, almost an entire decade prior to the monumental likes of `The Beyond'. Yet it features some stunning cinematography, a wonderful control of atmosphere and the kind of perverse vibe at which Fulci excels. For the avid Fulciphile, there are also many hints at the aesthetic which will reach a real climax with the `Zombie' cycle of the late 70s / early 80s: witness the local witch plastered in filth in a manner unsurprisingly similar to the living dead of `Zombie Flesheaters' or those muck-caked winos scandalously employed in `The Beyond's unforgettable closing sequence, not to mention those classically-Fulci pseudo-subliminal edits, where we gain the briefest of flashbacks to pertinent moments. That's without mentioning the chain-lashing attack that stands as a clear antecedent to poor ol' Schweig's torment in `The Beyond', though the simple fact of it being presented in colour may make it even more extreme for some. Still, the victim's not too disimilar - it's a hard life being an "ungodly warlock"!

If you're in search of a plot (though let's be honest, no-one watches Fulci for the plot), it's actually fairly straightforward in conception if not in execution: in this giallo, pre-adolescent boys are being murdered in backwoods Southern Italy and every twenty minutes, the film throws up a possible culprit. Throughout the investigations, the morally suspect but stunningly attractive Patrizia (Barbara Bouchet) seems connected to the grim crimes at every turn.... but could she really be the one strangling young lads? Bouchet is certainly the film's highlight... extremely alluring but also seemingly reprehensible, she is an ambivalent but superbly realised figure whose motives are fairly clear, but who evokes extremely wavering sympathies from the audience. Having said that, she is hardly alone: at least one other character, who seems pleasant and caring, is revealed by the end to be not quite what they may have seemed.

Has it a weakness? It all depends on your perspective. For some, the relative lack of a central character may prove a bit of a hurdle: ostensibly, our hero is probably Martelli (Tomas Milan) the investigative journalist, but given the significant role he plays (particularly in the film's face-dashing climax), he's really not on-screen anything like as much as you might expect.

In regards to the actual disc, the Blue Underground transfer is excellent: some, such as erudite Fulci-scholar Stephen Thrower have described the film as "easily the best looking of Fulci's non-supernatural tales", and this particular DVD absolutely does it justice. Having said that, there are no significant extras bar a fairly standard Fulci-ology, but this hardly matters. Come for the film, stay for the film, but listen out for Riz Ortolani's score: yep, the genius behind `Cannibal Holocaust's stunning soundtrack (irrespective of your views on that film) is well-employed on this venture. Definitely a significant piece of work and well-worth your time and attention. If you're already a Fulci-fan (and I find it unlikely you're not if you're reading this), I would certainly recommend this, despite the lack of supernatural flair that characterised the great man's classic era. Thumbs up.
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on 8 November 2011
I cannot praise Shameless enough for the films they are reviving - long may they keep up the good work. Although I enjoyed this film, I was a little disappointed by the story line. The film had been really hyped up and I think I was expecting something more. Nevertheless it is a very good thriller and keeps you guessing to the end. You've probably guessed that this is my very first review - I'm sure I'll get better with experience!
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on 28 August 2011
Without a shadow of a doubt, this 1972 Italian film is quite simply one of Fulci's all-time greatest works, alongside THE BEYOND and ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS. Whilst not quite as gory as these two, this classic giallo still remains both powerful and shocking with its theme of kiddy murders, child seduction and a truly brutal beating bound to send shivers up your spine. With a cast and crew bound to get any fan of cult cinema excited (including Florinda Bolkan from FLAVIA: THE HERETIC and LIZARD IN A WOMAN'S SKIN, Tomas Millan from DJANGO, KILL! and ALMOST HUMAN as well as a haunting score from music maestro Riz `CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST' Ortolani), this film is a must have for any cult connoisseur or fan of whodunit thrillers. Packaged in an eye catching yellow case, this film will stand out in your collection and if, like me, you're not a fan of the front artwork, the reverse cover is beautiful! This release is however let down by the lack of many extras, BUT this is made up for with a great little booklet full with interesting information.

An incredible giallo which still remains a shocking experience and that rivals the very best of Argento. Who's behind all these child murders? This film will keep you guessing right to the end! Highly recommended.
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on 19 September 2007
The film contains hardly any gore, but that does not mean the film is bad, its an excellent murder mystery or 'Giallo' as they call it in Italy and the story is fantastic. Its a shame it hasnt been released here in the UK so I had to buy the import version.

BUY IT !
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on 30 July 2010
This is one of Lucio Fulci's best films (Far better than Zombie Flesh eaters and House by the Cemetery). In my opinion when he decided to focus on more the gore than his stories his films became coniderably worse. This however may have a few gory scenes but its still mainly driven by its characters and his thrilling direction.

Tomas Milian stars as a news paper reporter who is investigating into a series of child killings occuring in a small village. There are numerous suspects but the shocking end scene is great and a big susprise.

This is a must see for fans of Giallo genre.
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