Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 10th, 2004
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, March 9th, 1972
Director: Massimo Dallamano
Writers: Massimo Dallamano, Bruno Di Geronimo
Cast: Fabio Testi, Karin Baal, Camille Keaton, Cristina Galbó
DVD Released: August 12th, 2002
Approximate Running Time: 103 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Shriek Show / Media Blasters
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95
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? andWhat 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 Worldand Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals. The second of these two key collaborators is Ennio Morricone, whose diverse filmography includesThe 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? Is presented in its original 2:35:1 aspect ratio and it has been enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The picture is razor sharp with only some minor grain at times. The Colors are solid and the flesh tones are natural this is a pretty good transfer for a thirty year old film.
The DVD comes with only one audio option a Dolby Digital English Dubbed Mono track. The dialog is clean and easy to follow the mono track gets the job done. Ennio Morricone’s haunting score comes through crystal clear and to bad Shriek Show didn’t include a music only track.
Shriek Show has put a lot of effort into the packaging for What Have You Done to Solange? Inside there is a well-done 12-page booklet featuring stills, biographies of Massimo Dallamano, Ennio Morricone, Fabio Testi and Camille Keaton, and a excellent short essay about the film by Robert Marcucci. Also included on the DVD is an Art Gallery with various still photographs, advertisement’s and bonus trailers for Sweet House of Horror, Spasmo, House on the Edge of the Park and House of Clocks as well as the original trailer for What Have You Done to Solange? Overall Shriek Show adds another classic to their giallo collection giving it an strong A/V presentation and some informative extras.