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Don't Torture A Duckling
Directed by Lucio Fulci ; Starring Florinda Balkan, Barbara Bouchet, Tomas Milian, Irene Papas
Anchor Bay Entertainment ; Region 0 ; NTSC ; Anamorphic 2.35:1 ; Dolby Digital Mono English ; Talent Bio

Despite being best known for directing innard-spewing chunk-blowers, Lucio Fulci, the grumpy old man of Italian cinema, has dabbled in a number of genres. Of most interest to his fans are the giallo pictures he shot before his golden period of the early eighties. The curiously titled 'Don't Torture A Duckling' is one of those films. It's the story of a small village whose young male inhabitants are being picked off one by one. As is common with such giallos, a journalist is on hand to conduct his own investigation - weeding out a large variety of suspects and red herrings.

With a couple of shock sequences (one of which is particularly nasty, the other looking more like something out of 'Monkey') that hint at Fulci's later work, 'Duckling' also shows us an artistic side to Fulci, sadly lacking from his later work. It's hard to believe that this Fulci is the same hack who made 'The New York Ripper'. These shock moments aside, the film is peppered with dark and disturbing overtones. While the 'whodunnit' element isn't nearly as involving as Dario Argento's work, 'Duckling' adds a little more credibility to Fulci's often underrated catalog.

Suffering only from some minor film artifacts and light grain, and given the relative obscurity and age of the title, the anamorphic transfer on this disc is very good, featuring some of the nicest cinematography seen in a Fulci film. The mono sound on the disc is merely functional. Sure, it would be nice if all these discs could have a nice new DTS-ES remaster, but frankly this film doesn't require it. Dialogue is clear throughout. The music coming from a radio during one sequence is a little shrill and grating, but I'm just looking for something to be picky about here.

Unfortunately, this disc fails miserably in the extras department, with only a Lucio Fulci bio (yes, the one you've probably already got on several other Fulci discs). Once again, the age and obscurity of the film is probably to blame.

The DVD is by no means a 'demonstration disc', and the film may disappoint some Fulci fans with its lack of gore and slower pace (Argento fans may find it more rewarding), but it's a rare opportunity to appreciate one of the more interesting pieces of work from one of Italy's most popular filmmakers.