(Lucio Fulci, 1972)
Fulci's second entry into the Giallosphere is both one of his best efforts and one of the best examples the genre has to offer. One can tell it was made early in Lucio's career, as an extraordinary amount of effort and panache went into its making. The scenes are well laid out and stylish, the acting above-par, and the story highly intriguing.
Reporter Andrea Martelli (Tomas Milian) is in a remote Italian village covering the recent murder of a preteen boy. The obvious suspects include the village idiot, Giuseppe, village witch, Maciara (Florinda Bolkan), and the predatory Patrizia, a woman sent to the village as punishment by her father after a drug scandal. More child murders ensue, and the villagers become more fanatical and violent as the police fail to produce serious suspects. This is easily one of Fulci's most offensive and critical films, and is powerful and engaging in that respect.
The monster at large in this feature is not necessarily the killer; it's the village itself. This is by far and large Fulci's greatest social commentary, a scathing portrayal of rural ignorance, fear of outsiders and outside religion, and religious fear of sex. We are first introduced to the mob when Giuseppe, having been arrested by the police for extortion in relation to the first boy's murder, is almost assaulted on the way to the police car. Later, after two more boys have died and Maciara has taken credit for their demise by means of magic, the villagers become furious and sadistic. In the saddest part of the whole ordeal, Maciara is first shunned by the villagers, then beaten savagely in the graveyard. She crawls, half dead, to the grave of her stillborn son, where she expires. Cars pass by on the highway, oblivious of the backwater town and its denizens.
Don't Torture a Duckling is as beautiful as film as it is savage. Excellent use was made of the rural setting with its golden, rocky hills and whitewashed buildings. Also easy on the eyes is lead actress Barbara Bouchet, whose sordid character is both alluring and appalling. The music by Riz Ortolani is startling and dark, and the early effects by Gianetto De Rossi are fairly gruesome, though the overuse of the mannequin at the end was slightly unconvincing. I wouldn't recommend this for fans of Demons and other "pizza schlock"; this is a solid film that demands one's attention and doesn't disappoint. Buy it here.
2 years ago