director Lucio Fulci
My birthday movie marathon of course had to have an ending. There are only so many hours in a day. Having just watched Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond (1981), my final film turned out to be another Fulci film, an earlier non-horror giallo film, titled in English Don’t Torture a Duckling.
My experience with the giallo film is oddly limited. I was first exposed to giallo in the 1990’s while living next to Le Video, San Francisco’s great video shop, probably at its late heyday, sadly only a few years before it became nearly unnecessary with the advent of Netflix and eventual streaming platforms. Back then, video (even prior to DVD really taking over) was the way that movies were proliferated. And Le Video cornered the market on obscurity, with lots of “illegal” bootleg versions of films that just weren’t available anywhere. And the staff was tuned in to the pre-internet research of obscurity and genres. I never heard of “giallo” before Le Video.
Oddly enough, the one giallo that I saw from that time was Giulio Questi’s curiously titled Death Lays an Egg (1968). I think that’s one of those funny things about giallo, the tendency to some really strange titles. Maybe that’s actually what had me queue up Don’t Torture a Duckling. Maybe if you wind up torturing a duckling, death will lay an egg. I don’t know.
Don’t Torture a Duckling is the story of a serial child murderer wreaking havoc in a small village in rural Italy. So, it’s not Fulci’s later zombie type horror, more perhaps of a horror/thriller, I suppose. It’s also quite a different style of direction for Fulci, much more cohesive in its narrative and focus, with a much more pronounced sense of social critique in it. It’s considered significant as the first of Fulci’s films to include some of his bloody gore effects, though it’s nothing like his later zombie gore.
It’s a really interesting film, actually, more accessible perhaps from a narrative stance and yet still very complex.
I really don’t have an explanation why I never got around to seeing more giallo films. But when I did some post-film research, I realized that I’ve seen virtually none. And yet it’s a genre that is right up my alley, with horror and “the fantastique” and all that Italian eroticism. I’m really all about pulp when it comes down to it. Maybe it’s just that Dario Argento never really “did it” for me when I was younger, even if I liked some of his films. If he was the “master” of the giallo then maybe it wasn’t so interesting for me.
Whatever. I’ve queued up about every notable giallo that I could find now. So, my future will indeed have some serious tints of giallo in it.