In a small Italian village children are being killed, the circumstances that surround each death have serious question marks, the manner in which each child increasingly more unpleasant. Journalist Andrea Martelli (Thomas Millian) is one step ahead of the police at each and every stage, while witch like Maciara (Florinda Bolkan) seems to know more than she should, and then there is Patrizia (Barbara Bouchet) an incredibly sexy woman, who seems strangely attracted to the young boys in the village.
Made in 1972 Lucio Fulci’s Don’t Torture A Duckling might sound like a bit of a joke, but it’s far from it. For a movie that is forty years old, it was well ahead of its time in so many ways. Fulci (who had yet to embark on the zombie movies that made him a legend) really dabbled with subject matter that could have got him in an awful lot of hot water, but luckily the movie went past with little controversy.
To take you into level of intensity, and give you a taster of what the movie drags onto the viewer, some of the earliest scenes feature a very naked Bouchet, clearly in her twenty’s trying to seduce an eleven-year-old boy, whether it is just a tease on her part, or intentional is never quite revealed, whichever is the case, it’s incredibly uncomfortable viewing, even if you have seen the movie more than once.
Having handled the angle of pedophilia, the movie obviously goes down the lines of child killing, before moving into the area of hate crimes. While so many of these issues had been allured to, in 1972 this was some of the most daring filmmaking of a generation.
The movie is a very transitional piece, it takes quite a journey, but almost seems sectioned off, the first part of the movie is all about the victims, this moves on to the police where you look at the crimes through their eyes, then it tells the story of the innocent victims who become targets of hatred, and finally it takes a turn with the seductress Patrizia, and the journalist Andrea. It’s this break up of story telling, that really gives the movie its power.
Power also comes in sound, the movies score is composed and performed by Riz Ortolani (Cannibal Holocaust, Cyclone, Drive); and it is an incredibly moving score, and to be honest the same piece of music for the entire movie, just delivered with a very different sound.
There are two pivotal moments in the movie, the first involves a vicious hate crime, handled by a lynch mob, the second revolves around the demise of the films killer. Both scenes literally become ingrained in your mind, to the extent that whenever you think of the movie, it’s these two scenes you see. Both scenes are carried out against the aforementioned Ortolani score, and both versions could not be more different.
The only downside with the movie is it is a little labored in places, this being said because some points are so visceral you do feel that the dragged out areas are justified.
Don’t Torture A Duckling is one of those movies that once seen, is never forgotten. If you want to see something very different, and very shocking, then you’ll be hard pushed to find something much different to this.