The dark giallo thrillers swept Italian cinema in the ‘70s as the spaghetti western faded into the sunset. The movies were known for POV shots as the gloved hands of the murderer would stalk and stab their unsuspecting victims. The main investigator wasn’t a cop, but a witness to the crime who just might be the killer or his next victim. Dario Argento gained his reputation as a cinematic force in the genre. But there were dozens of other filmmakers working in the genre. What Have You Done to Solange? is an entry which melds the giallo with the police investigation tale found in West Germany’s krimi genre.
A girl’s school in London is having a bit of an issue with their students turning up dead. Who is the killer and why have they targeted them? There’s a lot of suspects since it’s a school full of girls who have their jealous feelings towards enough other. Quite a few of the professors are also suspects because they can’t keep their hands off the students who request that extra personal educational touch. Professor Rosseni (The Garden of the Finzi-Continis’s Fabio Testi) moves to the head of the suspect list because the school girl he’s seeing had spotted one of the crime scenes. HeThe key to the killings seems to involve a student named Solange (I Spit On Your Grave’s Camille Keaton). The professor’s wife (Berlin Alexanderplatz’s Karin Baal) covers for her lecherous husband, but there’s coldness to her stare that makes her a suspect. The professor tags along with a police inspector (Joachim Fuchsberger) in order to uncover the real killer and prove himself innocent. Or is he merely setting up a patsy and getting closer to his next victim?
Solange’s dynamic of having the professor almost be a sidekick to the inspector is what makes the film straddle the genres of the giallo and the krimi. Fuchsberger was a major star of police mystery movie based on the works of Edgar Wallace. Solange is adapted from Wallace’s The Clue of the New Pin. The director changed things up to reflect the giallo trends. Fuchsberger is ultimately the transition between the genres. He also provides a moral authority in the film since the professor is so damn shady.
The most important element of this mystery is the score from Ennio Morricone (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly). He uses the wordless female singer to heighten the emotions that don’t really come from Testi. His melodies makes us more and more curious about the fate of Solange and how the others are tied into this horrifying killing spree.
What Have You Done to Solange? is one of the best giallo films even with its hybrid status. The mystery at the core of the killings remains a current topic so it’s not dated. Solange should keep a new viewer guessing until the reveal.
The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The transfer looks really good as it brings out the fun of being in an all girls school in the early ’70s. The audios is a DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 and Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0. Both soundtracks were recorded in post production so neither is authentic to the international cast’s real voices. The subtitle tracks are in English subtitle tracks
Audio commentary with critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman has them discuss the differences between the krimi and the giallo.
Karin Baal (13:38) really tells us the fun from the set. She was always on edge that director Massimo Dallamano was going to make it X rated. She has harsh words for most of the cast that didn’t even care to learn their lines in English. She wasn’t happy trying to do scenes with Testi who just moved his mouth.
Fabio Testi (21:17) has him remembering the shoot on more charming terms. He discusses his long career in film.
Fulvio Lucisano (11:03) goes into the development of Solange, the production and the release.
Innocence Lost – Visual Essay by Michael Mackenzie (29:00) dissects the use of young girls in giallo.
Original Theatrical Trailer (3:05) promises a thriller night.
DVD with all the Blu-ray content in lesser resolution.
What Have You Done to Solange? bring together two great homicide genres. The bonus features provide the proper context for understanding Solange and other giallo films.
Arrow Films presents What Have You Done to Solange?. Directed by: Massimo Dallamano. Screenplays by: Massimo Dallamano & Bruno Di Geronimo. Starring: Fabio Testi, Karin Baal, Joachim Fuchsberger & Cristina Galbó. Rated: R. Running Time: 103 minutes. Released: December 15, 2015.
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