In a small Italian village, pre-adolescent boys are turning up dead and evidence points to either the local witch (Florinda Bolkan), or a beautiful, bored, city girl (Barbara Bouchet) hiding out after a drug scandal...
Spoilers follow ...
- Don't Torture a Duckling review by NP
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You rated this film: 3
Child killings are the grisly subject of this Lucio Fulci Directed giallo. And he takes delight in some genuinely horrifying scenes.
A handful of vengeful men corner Maciara (Florinda Bolkan) in a graveyard and beat her with chains in probably the most disturbing set-piece I’ve seen in a giallo – and there have been a few. With unhurried deliberation, the blows are dealt slowly and viciously, followed by unflinching moments of blood emerging from new wounds. All this to the sound of triumphant ballads. After such prolonged suffering, you would expect Maciara to survive the ordeal – but no, after dragging her bloodied, broken body across the unforgiving heat of wasteland, she dies by the side of the road, for the most part unnoticed by passing vehicles. Horrifying indeed.
There is a carefully maintained sense of unease that permeates throughout the isolated Italian village where these horrors occur, and yet there’s a dark vein of … can I call it humour? … running through the more graphic moments in this film. Similarly, as the revealed miscreant is tipped loudly over a ravine, it’s probably a brave choice to continually cut to a close-up of his battered face being slowly smashed following every connection with the rock face he is tumbling down. Equally, the injection of more of the deeply inappropriately soulful soundtrack lends a perversion to his slow, violent death.