A reporter and a promiscuous young woman try to solve a series of child killings in a remote southern Italian town rife with superstition and a distrust of outsiders.
Set in and near a poor working class town in the mountains of rural Italy, it’s a story of madness. The landscape may be quite picturesque, but there’s madness herein, concealed behind the mask of a person who seems outwardly normal. This person kills little children.
In style and tone this film resembles Dario Argento’s famous Italian giallos, those fascinating whodunit horror films, except that Argento’s films are much better looking. Still, the visuals in Fulci’s “Don’t Torture A Duckling” are competent, with some interesting compositions and lighting. Lightning and thunder on a rainy night enhances suspense in one sequence wherein one of the “ducklings” is vulnerably alone.
In one sequence the gore is a bit overdone. But this is no slasher film. A legitimate theme undergirds the story. And that theme is that madness can take many unexpected forms, not just the obvious delusions of people who practice voodoo or black magic.
Plenty of red herrings render the puzzle solution difficult if the viewer doesn’t assume an agenda on the part of the director. Don’t dismiss someone who might not seem to be a suspect. The twist near the end provides good misdirection. However, in one scene midway through, a line of dialogue could have been added to clarify the relationship between two characters, one of whom is the murderer. The film’s finale takes place on a beautiful mountaintop with the wind whistling in the background. We see flashbacks to clues and get insights into the killer’s mindset.
I don’t care for the film’s widescreen projection. But background music is effective, and ranges from jarringly creepy at the beginning to low-key jazz, to indigenous Italian songs. Acting is generally average, though in a couple of cases, it’s a bit overdone.
Though not as visually brilliant as Argento’s giallos, “Don’t Torture A Duckling” nevertheless is a fine film, one that contains a thematic storyline and enough of a whodunit puzzle to interest most viewers who like thrillers and murder mysteries.
Director: Lucio Fulci
Writers: Lucio Fulci (story), Roberto Gianviti (story)
Stars: Florinda Bolkan, Barbara Bouchet, Tomas Milian
Release Date: 29 September 1972 (Italy)
Also Known As: Don’t Torture a Duckling
Filming Locations: Rome, Lazio, Italy
Format : Matroska
Format version : Version 1
File size : 5.89 GiB
Duration : 1 h 48 min
Overall bit rate mode : Variable
Overall bit rate : 7 786 kb/s