Don't Torture A Duckling (1972)

OCTOBER 27, 2009


Lucio Fulci has often claimed that Don’t Torture A Duckling (Italian: Non Si Sevizia Un Paperino) is his personal favorite of all his films, which is interesting since it’s so far removed from the stuff he is known for, and I sort of wish he had gone back to something more realistic (and coherent) during the peak of his popularity (late 70s early 80s). Because while Duckling is a good movie, it has been outdone by other Giallos that came along after it, and it would have been nice to see Fulci show em up.

But in a way that sort of makes the film even more impressive. Having seen so many others, I was worried I would find the movie to be too familiar, not unlike the way I feel when I see a horror movie from the 30s or 40s that has been remade and ripped off over a dozen times since. That was not the case, however - it felt a bit slow at times, yes (particularly in the first half), but by its own design, not from my previous exposure to films that came along in its wake.

I was also struck at how similar a certain sequence was to Last House On The Left, considering that Fulci’s film was being shot months before Last House’s release. In the scene, a would-be suspect is beaten by a few villagers, and she crawls away from them and dies while a cheery 70s ballad plays over the soundtrack; not unlike the death of Mari in Craven’s film. Speaking of the music, I dunno if it was dubbed in along with the American voices, or an original choice of Fulci’s, but the (uncredited) 60’s funk tune that plays prior to this scene practically defines ill-fitting.

Those of you expecting Fulci gore will be pretty disappointed. The few murder scenes are pretty tame (or off-screen entirely, as most of the deaths are that of children); only the killer’s demise would be considered Fulci-esque. And I mean that in two ways, in the gore sense, and in the incoherency sense - when the killer’s head strikes a rock, it sparks. Since the dummy is so bad to begin with, I began to wonder if we were supposed to think that the killer was actually an android the whole time.

I also liked that the film was coherent, with a killer who actually appeared in the film prior to the reveal. So many of these things “cheat”, or simply don’t make any goddamn sense (Four Flies On Grey Velvet comes to mind), it’s nice to see one that one could possibly figure out prior to the climax. Also, since the “duckling” of the title seemingly refers to a Donald Duck toy (for real), I dug the reality of it all. It could have been any generic doll, but having a well-known “icon” play a part as a major piece of evidence (especially one from the notoriously sue-happy Disney) was uniquely awesome.

Blue Underground’s DVD is pretty bare; the only extra is a Fulci bio that I’ve already read on one of the other discs. Too bad Tim Lucas wasn’t as big of a fan of Fulci as he is for Bava; as I am a bigger Fulci fan, I would probably find his dron-y commentaries far easier to endure if he was discussing a guy I had more of an interest in. Oh well.

What say you?

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  1. This is Fulci's best Donald Duck related giallo.

  2. Some mention, however, must be made of New York Ripoper, where he had the villain talk like Donald Duck, but was apparently so nervous about Disney suing them that everyone just says he talks like "a" duck. Because they all sound like that.

  3. You say that you would have liked him to do a Giallo at his peak, and in 1982 he did do The New York Ripper, which is one of my favorites.

    So I'm not sure if you have seen that or not, but I feel that it is a really good Giallo made at Fulci's peak, with extended gore sequences.


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