The Curator of Schlock #127 by Jeff Shuster

Don’t Torture a Duckling

I’m a free American. I’ll do what I want

Am I the only one who caught this season of Grantchester on Masterpiece Mystery?


The show is about an Anglican priest who helps the police solve crimes in a small village near Cambridge. He’s also in love with a woman that married into the gentry so he has the whole unrequited love thing going on. But yeah, there are murders and the priest has to solve them. Being a British series set in the 1950s, these mysteries tend to be on the cozy side.

Trouble is, we don’t do cozy here at the Museum of Schlock. And so we look to Italian cinema and film genre known as giallo, those mysteries mixed with horror that were so popular during the 1960s and 70s. And who better to introduce us to this genre than the maestro of mayhem, Lucio Fulci and his giallo classic from 1972, Don’t Torture a Duckling.


So May is Mystery Month over here at the Museum of Schlock. I tend to avoid reviewing mysteries on this site because I hate the word spoiler. It grates on my last nerve every time I read spoilers in an online review because I usually stop reading the review at that point, promising to come back to it once I’ve watched the movie, but I never do because who’s got time for that crap. Spoilers are the death of readership, so be warned that these reviews the next following weeks will have no such warnings.

The Title

You’re probably wondering about the significance of the title. Turns out a mentally disabled little girl bore witness to some of the murders. She squeezed the neck of one of her dolls so tight that the head popped off. She does the same to a Donald Duck doll. Hence the title, Don’t Torture a Duckling. So no ducks are actually tortured in this movie. A little boy shoots a stone at a lizard, but that’s about the extent of the animal torture.

Don’t mess up any Donald Duck toys around my editor, though. He’s fanatical and really weird about stuff like that.

There’s a naked lady in this movie! 

1 Barbara Bouchet nude sunbathing + 1 pitcher of orangeade + 1 preteen boy just hitting puberty + 1 mocking of said preteen boy by nude sunbathing Barbara Bouchet = a future serial killer in the making. Except that the preteen boy gets strangled to death ten minutes later in the picture. So I guess he’s not the killer?


What to do if you find the body of a dead boy.  

1. Call the police.

What not to do if you find the body of a dead boy. 

1.     Bury the body.

2.     Call the dead boy’s parents telling them you’ll let them know where you buried the body if they pay you lots of money. The police will suspect you’re the murder. It also won’t help your case if you’re the town pervert.


Black Magic Woman

Loudly proclaiming that you used black magic to kill the boys won’t get the town you taken seriously by the police. They don’t believe in all that mumbo jumbo voodoo horseshit. But the superstitious townsfolk will believe you and they tend to beat witches in open daylight to the tune of “Crazy” by Wes & The Airdales, obviously.


Someone has to be the killer!

The character you least expect. That’s how mysteries usually go, right?


Photo by Leslie Salas.

Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124, and episode 131) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.