Don’t Torture A Duckling (1972)

Food: (Drink)

Halloween Cocktail #4:

As this Italian film is spoken in its original language (unlike the previous films in the series so far that were dubbed), and takes place in a rural countryside, the most fitting cocktail companion should be an authentic Italian drink, the Aperol Spritz.


1 1/2 ounces Aperol

3 ounces prosecco 

3/4 ounce sparkling water or club soda 

1 orange slice, for garnish, optional


Fill a white wine glass halfway with ice. Add the Aperol, prosecco and sparkling water, and stir twice with a spoon. Serve with an orange slice if desired. Easy enough!


Halloween Italian Horror Film Series #4:

“Don’t Torture A Duckling” (1972) directed by Lucio Fulci, has a more intriguing storyline that falls in the murder mystery realm more than that of a slasher, focusing its culprits within the Roman Catholic Church in a small rural town in Italy.

The film contemplates the moral tensions between the priesthood, the superstitious outcasts and less conservative visitors from the city. As a series of young boys go missing and are found dead in the small southern village of Accendura, a sharp investigative journalist Andrea Martelli (Tomas Milian) takes it upon himself to solve the case, and begins rounding up suspects. One is a reclusive Gypsy witch named La Magiara (Florinda Bolkan) who spends her time conducting black magic ceremonies in the wilderness. She had harbored deeply rooted hatred for the young victims for mocking her during their escapades through the woods. The missing boys had also been known to taunt local simpleton Giuseppe Barra (Vito Passeri) when they caught him spying on two local prostitutes. Finally, there’s Patrizia (Barbara Bouchet), who has come to town from the big city of Milan after she was caught in a drug scandal. She is disturbingly promiscuous and enjoys flirting with young boys, teasing them and flaunting her naked body, but it is unclear if anyone is aware of her sinister actions. The people of the village still ostracize her for her perceived lack of morality and risqué clothing. However, the one who may be able to truly crack the case is a local special needs girl whose compulsion for pulling the heads off of her dolls suggests she might have witnessed a similar assault, perhaps the strangulation of the missing boys.

It is a complicated game of clue, depicting the politics of small town Italy in the 1970’s with Catholicism at the center. However, because of its unrelenting look at the Church, the film was blacklisted and received limited release throughout Europe. It did not ever get a theatrical release in the United States (only coming to America via DVD as recently as 2000). Further, the director was arrested for an infamous scene where a fully nude woman attempts to seduce an underage boy. He was forced to explain that the shot was done by was done using an adult dwarf stand-in before the charges were dropped. Despite all the controversy, Lucio Fulci has stated throughout the years in multiple interviews that this film was his favorite of all his work.

It is an excellent piece of cinema, with captivating shots, by Sergio D’Offizi, and a compelling mystery to hold the audience. The strong storyline and lack of gore (in comparison to other “giallo” films), allows “Don’tTorture A Duckling” to lean toward a different genre, falling more into drama/mystery than full-fledged horror, and feels more accessible than the typical Italian fright night film. It is a thoughtful, well-conceived and entertaining tale that can be enjoyed year-round.

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