Arrow Video Has Fun With Lucio Fulci, Stephen King, and Precocious Children

In Italy the children are dying, in Iowa the children are killing... and it's all for god.

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In Italy the children are dying, in Iowa the children are killing… and it’s all for god.

Arrow Video continues to be one of the best specialty labels out there for home video releases, and they live up to the moniker of “a genre Criterion” with just about every release. They put tremendous care into their titles, and horror fans know that their interests are well-deserved month after month. This is a busy month for Arrow, and among their many titles are two films that horror movie lovers are well-acquainted with but have never seen looking so damn good.

Don’t Torture a Duckling

Young boys in a small, Italian village are being murdered, and the populace has a good idea who’s to blame. A self-proclaimed witch living in the hills was witnessed threatening their lives, and she’s not shy about confirming it, but the evidence suggests otherwise. So who’s offing the little monsters? A reporter thinks he knows, and the naked lady who likes teasing young boys with her sexuality might have some thoughts too.

Lucio Fulci gifted the world with more than a few cinematic wonders — Zombie, City of the Living Dead, The Beyond — but while it’s far less bloody than those favorites his 1972 giallo, Don’t Torture a Duckling, is easily among his best. The film crafts a mystery with plenty of suspects and fresh victims, but there’s some solid social commentary throughout as well. It’s a strict Catholic community, so when the “witch” is cleared by the police the townspeople do what pious-minded citizenry does best — they form a mob mentality. Hypocrisy is also on display as the same upstanding citizens condemning behaviors are off screwing hookers in secret. The film does good work shifting the suspicion around, crafting intriguing characters, and killing off kids on a steady schedule.

Arrow’s Blu-ray looks great and delivers a bright picture while retaining Fulci’s soft, dream-like sense of madness. The disc comes with several news extras including a fantastic and comprehensive commentary from giallo expert Stephen Thrower, a trailer, and the following:

  • *NEW* Commentary with Stephen Thrower
  • *NEW* Giallo a la Campagna [27:44] – Author Mikel J. Koven talks about the language of giallos from the elaborate titles to the characters themselves, and he also shares observations on the genre as a whole in regard to how and where they played in Italian theaters.
  • *NEW* Hell Is Already in Us: Violence and Gender in Don’t Torture a Duckling [20:30] – Critic Kat Ellinger tackles accusations of misogyny that have been thrown Lucio Fulci’s way over the years. She explores how his life was shaped by religion as well as the loss of both his wife (suicide) and daughter (car crash), and she agrees with Stephen Thower that many of Fulci’s films are gothic fictions.
  • Lucio Fulci Remembers [33:25] – A two-part audio interview from 1988 with the filmmaker who was sent questions by a journalist and then answered them via an audio recording.
  • Cast and crew interviews including actress Florinda Bolkan [28:20], cinematographer Sergio D’Offizi [46:21], editor Bruno Micheli [25:38], and make-up artist Maurizio Trani [16:03]

Buy Don’t Torture a Duckling on Blu-ray from Amazon.

Children of the Corn

Burt (Peter Horton) and Vicky (Linda Hamilton) are a young couple on a road trip heading towards new opportunities, but they’re forced into a detour when they accidentally strike a child with their car. It’s already traumatic enough, but the situation worsens when they realize he was stabbed before even reaching the road. They bring him to the nearest town, a podunk little place called Gatlin, but instead of help they find a decimated population. No, it’s not the economy at fault… it’s the kids who’ve murdered all of the adults in the name of their corny god, He Who Walks Among the Rows.

Children of the Corn was among the early Stephen King adaptations, and it’s pretty much a middling effort. (Honest, it’s the 42nd best of King’s 73 movies/mini-series according to this very official ranking.) It’s somewhat to be expected, of course, as it’s based on a very simple short story. The film adds new characters and extends some of the subplots, but its biggest strengths sit with that core tale — kids slaughtering adults because they’ve been inducted into a religious cult. There are some solid kills and a bit of suspense in the final act, but poor character decisions and stretched-out time spent with supporting players hurts the flow and effect.

Arrow’s new Blu-ray offers a stellar-looking image thanks to a sharp 2K transfer, and it comes loaded with extra features including a picture gallery, trailer, and the following:

  • Commentary with cast & crew
  • *NEW* Commentary with Justin Beahm and John Sullivan
  • Harvesting Horror [36:15] – retrospective doc
  • It Was the Eighties! [14:07] – An interview with Linda Hamilton
  • *NEW* …And a Child Shall Lead Them [50:52] – Brand new interview with actors Julie Maddalena (Rachel) and John Philbin (Amos)
  • *NEW* Field of Nightmares [17:19] – Brand new interview with writer George Goldsmith
  • Stephen King on a Shoestring [11:18] – An interview with producer Donald P. Borchers
  • Welcome to Gatlin [15:29] – Interviews with production designer Craig Stearns and composer Jonathan Elias
  • Return to Gatlin [16:29] – A look at the Iowa filming locations with John Sullivan
  • Cut from the Cornfield [5:30] – An interview with actor Rich Kleinberg on the “lost” Blue Man scene. It’s a reference to the crucified skeleton in the police uniform.
  • “Disciples of the Crow” [18:56] – A short film made from Stephen King’s story one year before the feature was produced. It’s obviously low budget, but it captures the short story well.

Buy Children of the Corn on Blu-ray from Amazon.

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