Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 23rd, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, September 29th, 1972
Director: Lucio Fulci
Writers: Gianfranco Clerici, Lucio Fulci, Roberto Gianviti
Cast: Florinda Bolkan, Barbara Bouchet, Tomas Milian, Irene Papas, Marc Porel
BluRay released: September 25th, 2017 (UK), October 3rd, 2017 (USA)
Approximate running time: 105 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: LPCM Mono Italian, LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English, English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Coding: Region A,B / Region 1,2 NTSC
Retail Price: $39.95 (USA) / £24.99 (UK)
Synopsis: A series of child murders have taken place in a rural Italian village leading to fear and blame from the towns people. As usual the police have come to the end of their leads in steps a reporter Andrea Martelli (Thomas Milian) who decides to do his own investigating. Patrizia (Barbara Bouchet) a wealthy woman joins Martelli in pursuit of the killer. Don Alberto (Marc Porel) a priest with the help of his Aurelia (Irene Papas) try to help everyone in the village cope with the lose of their children while a murderer is still on the loose. The suspects and young children start to pile up leading to a killer whose motive is even more shocking then the crimes committed.
Lucio Fulci is primarily remembered for his trilogy of zombie films that he made in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. His films from Zombie which was made in 1979 until his death 1996 were filled with over the top gore and violence which help solidify his reputation as the godfather of gore. It is this latter period that most audiences outside of Italy are most familiar with unaware of his pre-zombie films that should he was more then just a director for hire. During his career Fulci would only direct a handful of giallo’s including One on Top of The Other, Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, Don’t Torture a Duckling, Seven Notes in Black and The New York Ripper.
The giallo genre was Fulci would achieve his greatest success as an artist, crafting some of the best films of his career. Don’t Torture a Duckling when originally released in 1972 the film was black listed because of its controversial story which lead to it receiving a limited release in Europe. It never received a release in America and Anchor Bay’s DVD marked Don’t Torture a Duckling arrival on American shores.
Murder is one of the central themes that is present in all giallo’s and where the majority of Giallo’s are populated by adult characters. Don’t Torture a Duckling is an exception with this film focusing on a murderer of children, which adds to the films sinister plot. As far back as 1931, films like Fritz Lang’s M have dealt which loss of a child at the hands of a madman. It is no surprise the controversy that surrounded this film at the time of its release since murdering children is still a issue that remains prevalent even more today then ever.
Riz Ortolani’s score is one his most unforgettable of his career giving the film a melancholy feel that mirrored the loss of innocence in this film. And though Don’t Torture a Duckling is not a gory as his latter films, there is still a few sadistic moments like when Maciara an outcast is whipped in a cemetery by the towns people who believe she is the reason their children are dying. This scene is one of fulci’s most brutal and haunting scenes that he ever filmed. Overall Fulci keeps most of the violence in the background while he focuses more on character and plot. The scenic country landscapes are beautifully shot as Fulci uses every inch of the scope frame.
The thing that has plagued Fulci most of his career is lack of budget unlike his contemporary Dario Argento has been blessed with stronger casts. Fortunately, Don’t Torture a Duckling features the best cast Fulci would ever work with and a solid screenplay that told a compelling story filled with religious and sexual undertones. And unlike most giallo’s that try to copy Dario Argento’s style, Don’t Torture a Duckling does not do this and because of this Don’t Torture a Duckling succeeds were others have failed in part due to their inability to create a fresh take on the genre.
Don’t Torture a Duckling comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The transfer for this release was sourced from a 2K restoration of the film from the original 2-perf Techniscope Eastman camera picture negative and a 4-perf 35mm duplicate negative. The end result is easily the best this film has looked to date on home video. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, details look crisp, black levels are solid throughout, grain remains intact and there are no issues with compression.
This Release comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in English and a LPCM mono mix in Italian. Both audio mixes sound clear and balanced throughout. Range wise the audio mix is the more robust of these two audio mixes. Included with this release are two subtitle options, English SDH and English for the Italian language track.
Extras for this release include, a video essay titled Giallo a la Campagna with Mikel J. Koven, author of La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film (27 minutes 44 seconds), a video essay titled Hell is Already in Us with film critic Kat Ellinger (20 minutes 29 seconds), two audio interviews with Lucio Fulci titled Lucio Fulci Remembers (20 minutes 13 seconds and 13 minutes 12 seconds, both of these interviews are in Italian with English subtitles) and an audio commentary with Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films.
The video essay titled Giallo a la Campagna provides a well-rounded overview of the giallo genre. Another subject that this extra explores is audience reaction to these films and how these films served as social gatherings.
Topics discussed in the video essay titled Hell is Already in Us include, themes that Lucio Fulci often returned to throughout his career and her thoughts about Lucio Fulci’s depiction of violence in regards to woman characters.
Topics discussed in the two audio interviews with Lucio Fulci include, his origins as a filmmaker, how he originally wanted to be a screenwriter, learning his craft from director Steno, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe and others who have influenced him, Horror cinema, Stanley Kubrick / The Shining, Dario Argento, David Cronenberg / The Fly and Mario Bava. He also makes brief comments about the majority of the films that he directed from the late 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, background information about Lucio Fulci and the cast and his thoughts about the film.
Other extras that are exclusive the Blu-ray disc include, an interview with actress Florinda Bolkan (28 minutes 20 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), an interview with cinematographer Sergio D’Offizi (46 minutes 20 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), an interview with assistant editor Bruno Micheli (25 minutes 38 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles) and an interview with assistant makeup artist Maurizio Trani (25 minutes 38 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles).
Topics discussed in the interview with Florinda Bolkan include, Lucio Fulci, A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, Don’t Torture a Duckling, her thoughts about both films and their cast. And this interview closes with her watching her characters death scene for the first time in forty-four years.
Topics discussed in the interview with Sergio D’Offizi include, Lucio Fulci and their first collaboration The Senator Likes Women, Don’t Torture a Duckling / The Visuals, locations, the cast and background information about other films he worked on.
Topics discussed in the interview with Bruno Micheli include, his origins as an editor, how his sister Ornella Micheli worked as an editor on several of Lucio Fulci’s films and his thoughts about Maciara’s death scene from Don’t Torture a Duckling.
Topics discussed in the interview with Maurizio Trani include, background information about his work as a makeup effects artist, Don’t Torture a Duckling and Lucio Fulci.
Rounding out the extras is a slip cover, a reversible cover art and a thirty-six-page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled Lucio Fulci’s Dark Dream written by Barry Forshaw, an essay titled In Sunshine and in Shadow: The Film Music of Riz Ortolani written by Howard Hughes and information about the restoration / transfer. Also, included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release, except the aforementioned four interviews that are exclusive to the Blu-ray disc. Overall Don’t Torture a Duckling gets a definitive release from Arrow Video, highly recommended.