Wednesday, February 09, 2011
DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING (1972) -
Another night, another questionably named Lucio Fulci giallo. Unlike Lizard, Duckling parks its multi-character mystery plot in a small Southern Italian village where the local children have been getting kidnapped one by one and turning up dead in local ponds. This setting provides a number of colorful suspects for Fulci to juggle, setting them up as The Killer Most Likely for all of ten minutes before moving onto the next. This includes everyone from the stuttering town idiot to a voodoo doll pricking Wiccan (above) to a foxy rich girl (below) on vacation to escape city drug charges and turn townie heads with offers of prepubescent sex. And did I mention the town priest?
Apart from all this Agatha Christie tomfoolery, Fulci is mostly up to his old tricks -- the split diopter shots, the many scenes of laughable police investigation/exposition, the caked-on gore wherever he can squeeze it in. For me, the true standout scene in Duckling involved Fulci's use of Italian pop music rather than Red Dye Number 5. A group of toughs has assembled in the graveyard to beat and torture the suspected town witch. One of them has left his car radio on, the sounds of a syrupy Italian crooner singing love songs over their gruesome lashings. What we get is an early example of contrapuntal needle drops, one with a direct lineage in the "Stuck in The Middle With You" ear slice in Reservoir Dogs or the "Jesse's Girl" fireworks and crack cocaine meltdown in Boogie Nights. It's a doozy of a sequence, and an easy one to point out when asked why so many film geeks crowd beneath the crooked altar of Lucio Fulci. The man got there first.