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(aka 'Non si sevizia un paperino')

 

Directed by Lucio Fulci
Italy
1972

 

From Lucio Fulci, the godfather of gore (The Psychic, The Beyond), comes one of the most powerful and unsettling giallo thrillers ever produced: his 1972 masterpiece Don't Torture a Duckling.

When the sleepy rural village of Accendura is rocked by a series of murders of young boys, the superstitious locals are quick to apportion blame, with the suspects including the local witch , Maciara (Florinda Bolkan, A Lizard in a Woman s Skin). With the bodies piling up and the community gripped by panic and a thirst for bloody vengeance, two outsiders city journalist Andrea (Tomas Milian, The Four of the Apocalypse) and spoilt rich girl Patrizia (Barbara Bouchet, The Red Queen Kills Seven Times) team up to crack the case. But before the mystery is solved, more blood will have been spilled, and not all of it belonging to innocents...

Deemed shocking at the time for its brutal violence, depiction of the Catholic Church and themes of child murder and paedophilia, Don't Torture a Duckling is widely regarded today as Fulci's greatest film, rivalling the best of his close rival Dario Argento.

***

The oddly titled Don't Torture a Duckling (taken from a minor plot point) is one of director Lucio Fulci's most linear and conventional narratives, relying more on story and mystery than on gore and atmospherics. In a rural Italian village, young boys turn up dead, and the authorities are stumped as to who the murderer is. A reporter lends his efforts to the hunt for the killer, many red herrings turn up, and more kids are murdered while the police search for the culprit. A sexually liberated young woman from Milan, a local witch, and the village idiot all fall under suspicion until the killer is uncovered. Gone is much of the director's trademark visual style, replaced with the blinding sunlight of an Italian summer for a hyperrealistic feel (though Fulci's affinity for the zoom shot and deep focus comes through). More tellingly, though, Fulci points toward the superstition and ignorance of the villagers as being as dangerous and destructive as the murderer himself. Also, the film's vehemently anti-Catholic sentiment had to have been controversial at the time of its release. Fans of the Giallo and Italian horror in general would do well to seek out this film for an example of Lucio Fulci at his most grim and serious.

Excerpt from Amazon located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: September 29th, 1972

Reviews                                                                      More Reviews                                                                    DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

Blue Underground - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Happinet - Region 'A' - Blu-ray vs. Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray

1) Blue Underground - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Happinet - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Box Covers

  

 

 

North American customers:

 

 

Global Customers:

 

Distribution Blue Underground - Region 0 - NTSC Happinet - Region 'A' - Blu-ray Arrow
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Runtime 1:42:24  1:48:13.653  1:45:05.006 
Video 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.54 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s   

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,570,425,622 bytes

Feature: 30,012,086,592 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 31.19 Mbps

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 48,535,763,350 bytes

Feature: 27,954,293,376 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 27.38 Mbps

Bitrate:

Bitrate: happinet Blu-ray

Bitrate: Arrow Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0)  Dolby TrueHD Audio English 445 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 445 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Embedded: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps)
Dolby TrueHD Audio Italian 471 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 471 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Embedded: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps)

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
LPCM Audio Italian 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

LPCM Audio English 768 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit

Subtitles None Japanese, None English (SDH), None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Blue Underground

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1

Edition Details:

• Lucio Fulci Bio text page

DVD Release Date: February 27th, 2007

Keep Case
Chapters: 9

Release Information:
Studio:
Happinet

 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,570,425,622 bytes

Feature: 30,012,086,592 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 31.19 Mbps

 

Edition Details:
• The DP's Eye (46:18 in Italian with Japanese subtitles)
• Alternate Opening (3:17)
• Alternate Ending (2:00)
• Italian Trailer (3:49)

• Image Gallery

Blu-ray Release Date:
December 2nd, 2016
Black
Blu-ray Case

Chapters: 21

Release Information:
Studio: Arrow

 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 48,535,763,350 bytes

Feature: 27,954,293,376 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 27.38 Mbps


Edition Details:

New audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films
The Blood of Innocents, a new video discussion with Mikel J. Koven, author of La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film (27:44)
Every (Wo)man Their Own Hell, a new video essay by critic Kat Ellinger (20:30)
Interviews with co-writer/director Lucio Fulci (Part 1- 28:33 - Part 2 - 13:12), actor Florinda Bolkan (28:20), cinematographer Sergio D Offizi (46:31), assistant editor Bruno Micheli (25:38) and assistant makeup artist Maurizio Trani (16:03)
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Timothy Pittides FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector s booklet with new writing on the film by Barry Forshaw and Howard Hughes
 

Transparent Blu-ray case

Blu-ray Release Date: September 25th + October 3rd, 2017

Chapters: 13

 

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were obtained directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

ADDITION: Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray September 17': Firstly, a big issue the 3-minute longer German/Japanese Don't Torture a Duckling was from a faulty German restoration that scanned additional frames at each cut requiring the soundtrack paused at each shot change to keep it, roughly, in sync. This is not how the film was shown originally. It's a mistake that the the Arrow running almost exactly 1 3/4 hours doesn't reproduce. It is in the correct time without the, superfluous, additional spaces (also see Jochen's comments under the Happinet review) . Their 1080P transfer rate is 23.976 fps. It has the Italian titles and credits.

 

This will be the same transfer simultaneously released in both region 'A' (US) and 'B' (UK). As Michael Brooke stated about Arrow's Day of Anger Blu-ray 'I can confirm first hand that the UK and US discs are absolutely identical: we only paid for one master, so there's no doubt about this at all! Which means that no matter which package you buy, the discs will play in any Region A or B setup (or Region 1 or 2 for DVD - and in the latter case the video standard is NTSC, to maximise compatibility). The booklets are also identical, but there are minor cosmetic differences on the disc labels and sleeve to do with differing copyright info and barcodes, and the US release doesn't have BBFC logos.'' Don't Torture a Duckling is the same situation.

 

Arrow's new Blu-ray transfer is superior - just that much better in support of the grain, it is marginally brighter but it is in-motion where it excels over the improperly transferred Japanese/German Blu-ray. It looks wonderful. You may toggle between the captures to see the improvement (NOTE: the captures with the, essential, J & B Scotch Whisky are exact frames - as is the, naked, Barbara Bouchet images.) the real improvement will be easily notable in-motion though.

 

Arrow also advance in the audio with linear PCM, mono, tracks, in both English and Italian, but 24-bit as opposed to 16. The score by Riz Ortolani (The Valachi Papers, Requiescant, Il Sorpasso, Woman Times Seven, Cannibal Holocaust, The Voyeur, Mondo Cane) seems clean, authentically flat and adds a modicum of depth. It supports the film with wonderful atmosphere. Arrow have optional English subtitles and their Blu-ray disc is Region FREE!

 

Arrow have included a new audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films and I am about 3/4's the way through - it is excellent - plenty of detail, background on the performers, Fulci and much more. He starts with a quote from Fulci suggesting it is the director's favorite film, and Howarth admits it is not only his favorite Giallo, but one of his favorite films of all time! The Blood of Innocents is entitled in the menu as "Giallo a la Campagna" and is a new 1/2 hour video discussion with Mikel J. Koven, author of La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film. I learned quite a bit from it. Every (Wo)man Their Own Hell, (entitled in the menu as "Hell is Already in Us") is a new 20-minute video essay by critic Kat Ellinger and it, likewise has strong value in analyzing deeper themes of Fulci's film. There are interviews with co-writer/director Lucio Fulci in two parts - audio only - recorded by Fulci (Part 1- 28:33 - Part 2 - 13:12) and partially published in a 1988 magazine and a 1996 book (Spaghetti Nightmares). We spend 1/2 hour with Florinda Bolkan, 3/4 of an hour with cinematographer Sergio D Offizi, 25-minutes with assistant editor Bruno Micheli and just over 1/4 hour with assistant makeup artist Maurizio Trani - all in Italian with English subtitles. The package has a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Timothy Pittides and those who nab the first pressing get a collector's booklet with new writing on the film by Barry Forshaw and Howard Hughes.

 

We knew we could trust Arrows to correct this mistake and their Blu-ray is an essential for Giallo fans. This is, obviously the one to own with improvements in every area - video, audio and extras. Buy with anticipation!

 

NOTE Regarding the German transfer: Vincent Pereira tell us in our FB Group HERE: "The original editors had access to all the original material, and movies WERE NEVER EDITED DIRECTLY FROM ORIGINAL NEGATIVE. The negative is developed, a workprint is struck and the editing is done on the workprint, and once the edit is signed off on, the negative is carefully edited to match the workprint. Torsten's speculation that they cut directly on the negative is simply nonsense. Period. I don't have to have been there to know that this did not happen. Re: not striking a workprint to "save money"- again, nonsense, because negative developing/workprint was a set combined cost with the labs. The film labs were set up to work that way- they develop the negative and strike a workprint for the editor. You were not going to save any appreciable amount of money by not striking a workprint (maybe a couple pennies on the foot), but you would be putting the entire investment in the film (DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING might have been "low budget" but I imagine several hundred thousands of dollars were invested in it) at risk by not doing so by using the original negative essentially as the workprint. The "damage" seen on the negative in some of TLE's restoration examples certainly doesn't show evidence of the negative being used as a workprint. The negative looks like it was poorly stored and mishandled, but it doesn't show the wear and tear of a workprint that has been run repeatedly through an editing machine and been spliced and respliced as edits were tried out and then changed. The fact is, Techniscope negatives were edited to have "handles" at the beginning and end of shots due to the frame-lines being so close so they wouldn't get "bumps" and visible glue at the framelines on the edits. These extra frames would be skipped over in printing the intermediate elements used to make the prints. Torsten and TLE incorrectly left these handles in the film. There are several shots in the TLE version where the added frames detract from the editing. The early shot of the boy shooting a rock with a slingshot at a lizard, for example. It's a quick, shock cut in the properly edited version of the lizard being hit, then cut back to the boy. Thanks to the added frames on the TLE, the shot lingers too long on the lizard and it's clear it was just hit by something soft and the lizard is fine. There's also a shot of Florinda Bolkin being whipped by the chains where the extra frames hurt the effect. One of the guys swings the chain, and thanks to the extra frames at the head of the next shot, it's clear that the chain is just gently resting on Bolkin's stomach and is pulled away. In the properly edited version (thank you,Arrow!), the extra frames of the chain just sitting still on her at the beginning of the shot are gone, so the editing effect of her being "whipped" by the chain is intact. Then, there's the simple fact that the fully mixed soundtracks had to be resynced SHOT BY SHOT. This alone proves that what Torsten did was wrong, and he should have known he incorrectly assembled his master once that problem arose, but thanks to his hubris and ego, he decided history was wrong and needed to be "fixed" by him, Torsten Kaiser, the sole sighted man among the blind." - Thanks Vincent!!

 

***

 

ADDITION: Happinet - Region 'A' - Blu-ray March 17'': I'm investigating the differences - not only because the Japanese Blu-ray runs about -minutes longer but, as far as I remember, I think some scenes are slightly in a different order than than the Blue Underground DVD. Eric tells us that "I have been told the Blu has extended exit music cut short on the DVD. Not sure if that accounts for all" and that The German "Leather Book" 4-disc set with Blu-ray (limited to 1250 units) also runs 1:48:00 like this Japanese Blu-ray. Once we have the full story - we will post it here.

 

NOTE: Jochen from FB HERE says "Maybe a hint to clarify the mystery of the longer runtime - and something I only learnt recently myself: if this is the same restoration as the German BluRay, it has some very serious issues. It seems like there has been a mistake in the restoration that adds 8 excess frames at every single cut (!) in the movie. Frames that were never supposed to be in the film. So this adds 1/3 of a second to every shot, and a few minutes to the complete film. Altering the complete rhythm of the montage, subtly but of course significant. A restoration disaster. I can provide links to a forum discussion explaining this deeper (and very technical, so I myself only understand parts of it). But only in German." (Thanks Jochen!)

 

The Happinet is dual-layered and colors take a dramatic shift - much warmer than the SD - exuberant, very rich (skin tones gain some orange) and a shade more information in the frame on the right and bottom - losing a smidgeon on the left and top edges. It looks fabulous on my system. So much brighter than the DVD, yet I can't, obviously, confirm its theatrical appearance resemblance.

 

Audio is Dolby True HD - a lesser used encode - it's 16-bit but not very robust, luckily the film's production doesn't require excessive depth or separation. It's available in English or Italian. There are optional Japanese subtitles on the region 'A' disc.

 

The Happinet includes some extras - unfortunately the 46-minute piece entitled The DP's Eye (a Freak-ORama Production) is only in Italian with Japanese subtitles - not English-friendly. There is also an alternate opening and ending, Italian trailer and image gallery.

Don't Torture a Duckling has limited graphic imagery - making it decidedly less Giallo-like - but is a very adept mystery with grim horror elements. It's an excellent example of a stylish, creepy, Italian early 70s film - and it can still be quite disturbing. Fulci seems in full control of his evolving signature. It's often considered one of his best. I love it and watching this new Blu-ray was like seeing the film for the first time.  Hubba Hubba Barbara Bouchet. Without owning the pricey German Blu-ray I have to endorse this to fans of the film and genre. Enjoy!

 

***

ON THE DVD: I have the Blue Underground DVD from 2007 but there is an Anchor Bay edition from 2000 (I suspect both are the same.) By modern standards it's pretty weak although is anamorphic. The disc is single-layered and region free in the NTSC standard.  The visuals looks decent enough in-motion if a shade clunky at times. It's not fully interlaced but does have some combing between chapter stops. I don't know what the elements are like but I think this is the only English-friendly DVD but I hope to compare the very pricey German "Leather Book" 4-disc set with Blu-ray (limited to 1250 units.)

The audio is English-only (and no subtitle options). The lossy transfer sounds adept if a bit hollow. The score by Riz Ortolani (Requiescant, Il Sorpasso, Woman Times Seven, Cannibal Holocaust, The Voyeur, Mondo Cane) can be a little 'scratchy' which is probably reasonably accurate to the original theatrical presentation though. It supports the film with wonderful atmosphere.

No extras aside from a few text screens of a Fulci bio. I reviewed this because it has significant value - especially at the price. Giallo and Fulci fans should indulge if they have not already. You can get for around $10. At that price it's pretty much a no-brainer - even with the limitations. Recommend! 

Gary Tooze

 

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Screen Captures

 

 

1) Blue Underground - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Happinet - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Blue Underground - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Happinet - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Blue Underground - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Happinet - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Blue Underground - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Happinet - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Blue Underground - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Happinet - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Blue Underground - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Happinet - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Blue Underground - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Happinet - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Blue Underground - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Happinet - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Blue Underground - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Happinet - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Blue Underground - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Happinet - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Box Covers

  

 

 

North American customers:

 

 

Global Customers:

 

Distribution Blue Underground - Region 0 - NTSC Happinet - Region 'A' - Blu-ray Arrow
Region FREE -
Blu-ray

 



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