Thursday, 17 December 2015

What Have You Done to Solange? (1972)

One of the best giallos to be directed by someone not called Argento, Bava or Martino gets its UK Blu-ray premiere courtesy of Arrow Films, in a beautifully restored print with plenty of worthwhile extras.

Naughty gym teacher

Naughty gym teacher Fabio Testi is having a discreet snog with one of his pupils (Cristina Galbo) in a boat on the Thames when she witnesses the killing of a girl on the riverbank in broad daylight. When it turns out the victim attended the same Catholic Girls' School where Cristina is a student and Fabio regularly takes the girls for some random kind of ballet / jigging around session, they find themselves in a dilemma. 

Lovely sweater
        When more girls are killed, all by the same grisly method of despatch, it becomes obvious that the black-gloved killer who likes to disguise himself as a priest is on some sort of vendetta. But what? And who is Solange and why, an hour into the film, have we still not encountered anyone of that name?

Lovely transfer
All is revealed in Dallamano's very un-giallo-like giallo. I say that because despite having many of the staple elements of the sub-genre (pretty girls dying horribly, black-gloved killer, complicated plot, amateur sleuth), WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE differs significantly in that there's a logical (and quite horrible) reason for the killings, everything fits together and makes sense, and the killer isn't someone the scriptwriter has decided on in the last five minutes of the film. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that if you don't like giallos but you do like 1970s crime pictures you'd do well to give SOLANGE a try. The English dub's not bad and there's an Italian language track for 'purists' (it looks as if it was filmed in English anyway).

Camille Keaton!
  Aristide Massacessi's photography is lovely and lush, imparting a peaceful, pastoral glow to a London long gone that will fill those who can remember it like that with nostalgia. The acting is pretty much what you would expect, with most of the cast being reined in by Dallamano so the film never approaches hysterical levels, even though the subject matter at times could easily have seen the movie sliding that way. In the hands of someone like Andrea STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER Bianchi SOLANGE would be a sleazy, nasty, unbearable mess. Instead it feels more like the kind of thing that could almost pass for a British television crime serial, only with a lot more nudity.

Milk in the 1970s!
Arrow's transfer of SOLANGE looks splendid. You can see every bobble on Fabio Testi's ghastly cardigan, but more importantly Massacessi's photography benefits hugely from the treatment. As I've said above you get English and Italian language options. An insightful feature-length commentary from Alan Jones and Kim Newman is so good it's almost worth the price of the disc, but if you want more there's Michael MacKenzie's informative, erudite and well thought out video essay on SOLANGE and its two 'sequels' - WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO YOUR DAUGHTERS and ENIGMA ROSSO / RINGS OF FEAR, (a film which looks jolly tatty). There are also a number of archival interviews from 2006 with stars Testi and Karin Baal and producer Fulvio Lucisano. You also get a reversible sleeve and collector's booklet with articles on the giallo scores of Ennio Morricone and a career retrospective and interview with Camille Keaton.

Arrow Films released Massimo Dallamano's WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE on dual format  DVD & Blu-ray on 14th December 2015

1 comment:

  1. Great review. Love collecting horrors on Blu Ray, so I might just treat myself to this for Crimbo.