News Article

News Article

Giallo Fever: 'Don't Torture a Duckling' [NSFW]

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Duckling title

Giallo: An Italian adjective describing the thriller genre, primarily in Italian books and films. Translated as simply “yellow,” giallo takes its name from the distinctive yellow covers commonly seen on Italian pulp thriller novels dating back to the late '20s.
 
Giallo Fever: A condition afflicting fans of European horror cinema after prolonged exposure to giallo films. Symptoms include an increased fondness for '60s and '70s music and fashion, an enhanced sense of color, and occasionally intense sex appeal.
 
So that's the short version... and here's where we're going with it: on a regular basis we'll be picking a film from the giallo genre, be it an esteemed classic, a weird obscurity or a modern spin on the formula, and bringing it to your attention. No heavy analysis, no film school mumbo-jumbo; just an overview, some highlights, and why you should see it... or in some cases, avoid it. This time out we've chosen an entry from the legendary Lucio Fulci (if you haven't heard of him, get thee to Google pronto and do your horror homework). While he's most loved for insanely splattery '80s horror, his 1972 film Don't Torture a Duckling is his best entry in the giallo pantheon, and a shocking preview of his gory excesses to come.
 
Duckling 1
 
The story takes place in a small village shaken to its core by a series of child murders. The investigation, assisted by a big-city reporter (Tomas Milian) and a woman escaping a sex scandal (Barbara Bouchet), is hampered at every turn by the highly superstitious locals; the same villagers also distrust a gypsy hermit (Florinda Bolkan) who practices voodoo rituals – some of which involve robbing the graves of small children. Double-dealing, extortion, vigilante justice and more murders ensue, including an ultra-violent beating with heavy chains (something Fulci would employ again in The Beyond). The final twist resulted in another of Fulci's many conflicts with the Catholic Church, which date back to his 1969 historical drama Beatrice Cenci.
 
Duckling 2
 
This film is noteworthy for many reasons, among them Fulci's often overlooked writing skills (he co-wrote Duckling with two other writers), a superbly creepy score by Riz Ortolani (Cannibal Holocaust), and beautiful widescreen compositions by Sergio D'Offizi, who along with Fulci makes excellent use of the earthy tones of the decrepit village and its dark and desolate surroundings. Bolkan's role is also a landmark in giallo cinema, and her grisly death scene is one of Fulci's most brutal; she also stars in his equally controversial '71 giallo A Lizard in a Woman's Skin.
 
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Outside of festival screenings, the best way to experience Don't Torture a Duckling is with Blue Underground's excellent DVD, taken from a restored (and uncut) original print, presented in the film's original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. 
 
Here's the NSFW trailer [contains brief nudity and some grisly scenes]:
 

 

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