Written by: Michael Den Boer on December 19th, 2015
BluRay released: December 14th, 2015 (UK) / December 15th, 2015 (USA)
Approximate running time: 107 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: LPCM Mono English, LPCM Mono Italian
Subtitles: English SDH, English (Italian Language)
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Coding: Region A,B / Region 1,2 NTSC
Retail Price: $39.95 (USA) / £17.99 (UK)
Synopsis: Enrico ‘Henry’ Rossini is a teacher in an all-girl Catholic school in London and he is having an affair with one of his students Elizabeth. The two lovers are on a rowing boat floating down the river. When Elizabeth thinks she sees a young girl being chased by a mysterious figure wielding a knife in hand. Enrico later finds out that ones of his students has been murder and when more students fall victim in the same way Enrico becomes the police’s #1 suspect. Will Enrico solve these horrific crimes and clear his name and will he discover who is Solange and what have they done to her?
What Have You Done to Solange? was co-written and directed Massimo Dallamano, who would only direct a total of twelve films before his untimely death at the age of fifty nine. His most notable films as a director include What Have You Done to Solange? and What Have They Done to Your Daughters? Before making the transition to directing, Massimo Dallamano was one of the most in demand cinematographers. Some of his more notable films as a cinematographer included Gunfight at Red Sands, A Fistful of Dollars, Bullets Don’t Argue and For a Few Dollars More.
When discussing What Have You Done to Solange? There are two key collaborators with whom this film owes a great debt. The first of these two key collaborators is cinematographer Joe D’Amato, a filmmaker in his own right whose is most remembered for his collaborations with actress Laura Gemser. The most notable of these films include, Emanuelle in America, Emanuelle around the World and Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals. The second of these two key collaborators is Ennio Morricone, whose diverse filmography includes The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Danger: Diabolik,Once Upon a Time in the West, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and The Untouchables.
The thing that immediately draws you in while watching this film is Ennio Morricone’s extraordinary score. It is a score that evokes themes innocence lost and nowhere is this more evident than during this film’s deceptive opening credits, which depicts a group of girls having the time of their lives while riding their bikes. From there the film further establishes its menacing tone with a murder set piece during its opening scene. And though this moment of carnage is brief, its impact is far reaching due to the gruesome nature if the kill. The killer stabs its victim, a young girl in her vagina with a large knife. Also when it comes to murder set pieces this film never shy’s away from their brutality.
Content wise, this film has all the ingredients that one would want or expect from a giallo! The narrative is well constructed and there are an ample amount of red herrings along the way to keeps things interesting. And characters are well defined and their motivations are clear? Other strengths of this film include Massimo Dallamano’s restrained direction which keeps most the excessive violence off screen by implying it instead of showing it. Fortunately this restraint does not extend to all content as there is a fair share of sleaze and never a shortage of naked school girls. And cinematographer Joe D’Amato’s rock solid visuals elevate this film above a generic giallo clone.
If there is one area where this film goes against the grain, when compared to its contemporaries and that is in regards to casting. With its most glaring choice being Fabio Testi (The Big Racket, The Heroin Busters) in the lead male role, a school teacher named Enrico Rosseni who is having an affair with one of the schoolgirls. He gives a dry performance that is virtually devoid of emotion and his only saving grace being his psychical presence. Other notable performance include, Cristina Galbó (Let Sleeping Corpses Lie) in the role of Elizabeth Seccles the student who is having an affair with Rosseni and Karin Baal (Dead Eyes of London) in the role of Rosseni’s wife Herta. And last but most definitely not the least in regards to performances in Camille Keaton (Tragic Ceremony, I Spit on Your Grave) in the role of Solange. Her character is spoken of for the majority of the film and it is not until the final act that she really gets to an ample amount of screen time. With that being said, despite this limited screen time she delivers what is easily the most memorable performance in the film.
Without a doubt the greatest strength of this film is how it forges an identity all its own. Instead of going to all too familiar route treaded by its contemporaries of mimic Dario Argento’s distinctive visual style or trying to capitalize on what was trendy at the time. Ultimately What Have You Done to Solange? is film that is in a class all of its own as one of the best examples of what the giallo genre has to offer.
What Have You Done to Solange? comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The transfer for this release was sourced from a brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative. When compared to all previous releases for this film. This new transfer from Arrow Video is vastly superior to all pervious home video releases. Colors look nicely saturated, black levels and shadow details look consistently solid and image looks sharp throughout. Also grain looks natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in English and a LPCM mono mix in Italian. Quality wise you really can’t wrong with either of these audio mixes as both sound clean, clear, balanced and robust when they need too, especially Ennio Mrricone’s score. There are two subtitle options for this release. English SDH subtitles for the English language track and English subtitles for the Italian language track.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (3 minutes 3 seconds), a visual essay by Michael Mackenzie is titled ‘Innocence Lost’ (29 minutes), three interviews – the first interview is titled ‘What have you Dione to Decency?’ with actress Karin Baal (13 minutes 37 seconds, in German with English subtitles), the second interview is titled ‘First Action Hero’ with actor Fabio Testi (21 minutes 17 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles) and the third interview titled ‘Old-School Producer’ (11 minutes 2 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles) and an audio commentary with critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman.
Extras titled ‘Innocence Lost’ is another excellent essay that not only covers the films which make up Massimo Dallamano’s ‘Schoolgirls in Perl’ trilogy. This extra also discusses the youth of children and teenage character within the Italian thriller genre.
Topics discussed in the extra titled ‘What have you Dione to Decency?’ include, how she approached by Massimo Dallamano to appear in the film and how she had them amend her contract due to what felt was content that bordered on pornographic, with the main change to her contract being that she will not appear nude in the film and that her character will not participate in any of those aforementioned scenes that she took exception too. Content wise, though she spends the bulk of the interview talking about the things that she did not like about this film.
Topics discussed in the extra titled ‘First Action Hero’ include, how he got into the film industry as a stuntman, filming Italian style and how they were able to overcome financial obstacles, working with director Massimo Dallamano, producer Fulvio Lucisano and cinematographer Aristide Massaccesi (Joe D’Amato), the cast and how the film was shot in English which required him to lip sync his role, how he prefers to not play the same character and the versatility that working inn all genres offers and he also discusses other films that he has worked on.
Topics discussed in the extra titled ‘Old-School Producer’ include, collaborating with director Massimo Dallamano, how he was always strict on the set and they would also work on the film The Night Child, cinematographer Aristide Massaccesi (Joe D’Amato) and the look of the film, Ennio Morricone and the score for the film and his thoughts on the final product.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, how this film would rank in most Giallo fans top 10, the Italian version of London looks verse how it really looks, the origins of the screenplay, Edgar Wallace connection to the genre and this is most likely why the film takes place in London, school girls throughout the history of cinema, the unusual casting of Fabio Testi in the role of the male lead, Massimo Dallamano, the look of the film and his legacy as a filmmaker, Ennio Morricone and his score the film, the cast and their thoughts on their performances, audience reaction to the film and their thoughts on the films ending.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art option and twenty eight page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled ‘A Little Night of Music: The Giallo Scores of Ennio Morricone’ written by Howard Hughes, an interview with actress Camille Keaton written / conducted by Art Ettinger and information about the restoration / transfer. Also included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall another extraordinary release from Arrow Video who continue to raise the bar when it comes to home video release for Cult cinema, highly recommended.