Don't Torture A Duckling/Review

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< Don't Torture A Duckling
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Incredibly disturbing, but very entertaining giallo (or Italian mystery) about some young boys in small village who are violently murdered by a remorseless killer. The local police aren't sure who the murderer is and though they have a few leads, they are mostly sending them in the wrong direction. A reporter (Tomas Milian) becomes embroiled in the mystery and, with the help of a beautiful former drug addict (Barbara Bouchet), must follow every bit of information he can dig up in order to stop the killer before he or she strikes again.

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One of Italian horror master Lucio Fulci's five gialli, Don't Torture A Duckling constitutes one of his most disquieting. Obviously, the subject of the film lends itself to this creepy atmosphere. There are several moments in the film where children are shown being menaced and/or killed and the film's box art even shows one of these troubling moments, featuring an old woman discovering the body of a young boy in the bottom of a pool. However, the killings aren't the only disturbing thing about the film because the character played by Barbara Bouchet also likes to seduce the boys, although she (thankfully) does nothing more than that. Her character's trait is a particularly unpleasant one and makes the film uncomfortable to watch.

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Unfortunately, the mystery is easily solvable as well (though the motive is never made very clear). In fact, there is even a moment early on in the film that telegraphs who the murderer is and who their next victims are. Thankfully though, the fun isn't in solving the mystery but in getting there, and the story is very interesting. Fulci has co-written an immensely intriguing tale that holds up well almost thirty years later.

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Although this film doesn't come close to matching the gorefests Fulci is known for, the are two sequences that feature his patented love for the red stuff. The first is a painful graveyard scene in which one of the suspected murderers is cornered in a graveyard and beaten with chains. The make-up effects are very convincing and even had me cringing. That scene is nowhere near as painful as the film's final effect though. The inevitable death of the real murderer features the character tumbling down a mountain striking their face on the rocks as they fall. There are even sparks where the bone and rock make contact with each other! Kudos to Fulci's special effects staff for crafting such deliriously torturous effects.

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Another thing of note in this film is the presence of the lovely Barbara Bouchet. Ms. Bouchet has done a large amount of film work all over the world, such as playing Moneypenny in the James Bond spoof Casino Royale (although most of her performances have been for foreign audiences, including appearing in Italy's publication of Playboy). She also had a few TV appearances, showing up on "Star Trek" as a character named Kelinda and in episodes of "Man from U.N.C.L.E.", "The Virginian", and "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea". Here, her character does exhibit some reprehensible traits, but she is an incredibly beautiful woman and it's no wonder she has appeared in over sixty films.

Review by Pockets of Sanity

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