Retro-review: New this week on Special Edition BluRay from Arrow Films/MVD Visual!

DON’T TORTURE A DUCKLING (1972)

Aka VOODOO, DON’T TORTURE DONALD DUCK,
Directed by Lucio Fulci
Written by Lucio Fulci & Roberto Gianviti (story), Lucio Fulci, Roberto Gianviti, Clerici (screenplay)
Starring Florinda Bolkan, Barbara Bouchet, Tomas Milian, Irene Papas, Marc Porel, Georges Wilson, Antonello Campodifiori, Ugo D’Alessio, Virgilio Gazzolo, Vito Passeri, Rosalia Maggio, Andrea Aureli, Linda Sini, Franco Balducci, Fausta Avelli, Gianfranco Barra, John Bartha, Duilio Cruciani, Don Semeraro


Taking a bit more of a subtle approach to his terror in this one, Lucio Fulci still delivers some solid shocks and a compelling story of big time murder and small town justice.

In the small Italian village of Accendura seems to be a pretty idyllic little town with simple people going about simple lives. But when a boy goes missing and then is found dead, the authorities seem overwhelmed and the city is turned upside down. When two more murdered boys turn up, justice is demanded with fingers first pointing towards the village idiot, then to a young gypsy woman named Maciara (Florinda Bolkan), but a reporter believes a young handicapped girl may have witnessed the murders and the killer turns out to be a real surprise to the entire town.


Uprooting the Giallo witnessed murder theme from the city and dropping it into the middle of a tiny village, Fulci still adheres to this popular style of thriller/suspense/mystery that was so common from the area through the sixties, seventies, and even eighties. And while the deaths themselves are offscreen, the film doesn’t forget to shock with some fantastically twisted discoveries of the bodies. The film really is its most terrifying when these bodies are found in such harrowing ways. The effects are simple, less bloody than the usual blood red Giallo, but still very effectively shocking as the bodies of the children are found. The death of a child is nothing to joke about and this is not something to satiate gorehounds. Fulci instead relies on the horrifying aspect of the dead child, focusing on the discovery, the reaction, and the impact it has on the small town.


Fulci dips his pinky toe into the supernatural here as he focuses on the red herring of a local mystic who may or may not have something to do with the murders. The intimate scenes of dirty hands sticking pins onto small voodoo dolls and other witchy stuff really does set the mood for the film. There is also a strong statement on old school beliefs versus modern beliefs of the church as the local priest factors in powerfully into the narrative. While it’s not new in this day and age seeing the church cast in a more threatening light, but it feels fresh and surprising here in this backwoods village who seem to take church more importantly than the law itself. All in all, DON’T TORTURE A DUCKLING is a fantastic and unconventional Giallo once again cementing Fulci as a true master of atmosphere and terror.

Special features include a new audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films, “The Blood of Innocents” – a new video discussion with Mikel J. Koven, author of La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film, “(Wo)man Their Own Hell” – a new video essay by critic Kat Ellinger, plus interviews with co-writer/director Lucio Fulci, actor Florinda Bolkan, cinematographer Sergio D’Offizi, assistant editor Bruno Micheli and assistant makeup artist Maurizio Trani!