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Don't Torture a Duckling

Don't Torture a Duckling
Italian theatrical release poster
Directed by Lucio Fulci
Produced by Renato Jaboni
Screenplay by Gianfranco Clerici
Lucio Fulci
Roberto Gianviti
Story by Lucio Fulci
Roberto Gianviti
Starring Florinda Bolkan
Barbara Bouchet
Tomas Milian
Marc Porel
Music by Riz Ortolani
Cinematography Sergio D'Offizi
Edited by Ornella Micheli
Medusa Produzione
Release dates
29 September 1972
Running time
102 minutes
Country Italy
Language Italian
English dub
Box office ITL 1,101,461,000

Don't Torture a Duckling (Italian: Non si sevizia un paperino) is a 1972 Italian giallo film directed by Lucio Fulci. It is significant within Fulci's filmography as it is one of the first in which he began using violent gore effects, something he would continue to do in his later films, most notably Zombi 2, The Beyond and City of the Living Dead. The soundtrack was composed by Riz Ortolani and features vocals by Ornella Vanoni.


In the small Southern Italian village of Accendura, three local boys, Bruno, Michele, and Tonino are engaged in mischief. Giuseppe Barra (Vito Passeri) a local simpleton and peeping tom, who is seen spying on two swinging couples, is taunted by the boys.

When Bruno goes missing, reporters converge on the town. One of them is Andrea Martelli (Tomas Milian) a sharp-witted journalist from Rome whose insights into the case are acknowledged by the regional police commissioner (Virginio Gazzolo) working with village chief of police Captain Modesti (Ugo D'Alessio).

Elsewhere, Captain Modesti and his aide meet with Francesco (George Wilson), an old hermit living in a stone hut who practices black magic and offers charms and potions to the superstitious. He tells police he has passed his knowledge of black magic to his disciple, Magiara, and also shares time with thrill-seeking Patrizia.

Don Alberto tries to throw his little sister off a cliff. In a fistfight with Martelli, Don Alberto loses his footing and falls of the cliff to a gruesome death.



According to Danny Shipka, the small Italian town of the setting turns out to be an Italian version of Harper Valley PTA, with suspects including voyeurs, drug addicted pedophiles, gypsies and priests.[1] He finds that the film provides a thought-provoking depiction of life and politics in a small town of Italy. The main themes are "repression, sin and guilt". [1] The motive of the murder turns out to be a desire to rescue the boys from the effects of their own sexuality. [2] In other words, the killer attempts to preserve the innocence of the victims. [3] He is attempting to send them to Heaven while they remained in a stage of uncorrupted grace.[4]

Shipka finds that the film also demonstrates the tendency of giallo filmmakers to seriously question religion and priesthood. [5] Mikel J. Koven points that predatory priests also appeared in Who Saw Her Die? (1972) and The Bloodstained Shadow (1978).[3]


When the film was first released in 1972 it received only a limited release in Europe, due to the film's themes, among which was criticism of the Roman Catholic Church. Though an English language audio track was created for the movie, it was not released in the United States and remained unreleased until 1999 when Anchor Bay Entertainment released the film on DVD and VHS.

Critical reception

AllMovie called the film "one of Fulci's more successful outings".[6]

Home video

The film was made available for the first time ever in the United States on both VHS and DVD through Anchor Bay Entertainment as part of the "Lucio Fulci Collection", uncut and remastered, containing its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 for the DVD release. American distribution company Blue Underground released the same version of the film on DVD on 27 February 2007.[7]

In the United Kingdom, Shameless Screen Entertainment made the film available on DVD on 29 August 2011 in a "Shameless Fan Edition", which contains, for the first time, optional English and Italian audio and subtitles, the Italian theatrical trailer and a booklet adapted by Stephen Thrower from Beyond Terror, his definitive book.[8]



  1. ^ a b Shipka (2011), p. 104
  2. ^ Shipka (2011), p. 91
  3. ^ a b Koven (2006), p. 66
  4. ^ Koven (2006), p. 57
  5. ^ Shipka (2011), p. 143
  6. ^ Firsching, Robert. "Don't Torture a Duckling - Review - AllMovie". AllMovie. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
  7. ^ "DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING by Blue Underground, directed by Lucio Fulci (Zombie, House by the Cemetery, The Beyond)". Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
  8. ^ "Don't Torture a Duckling". Retrieved 30 July 2012. 

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