Actors: Fabio Testi, Cristina Galbó, Camille Keaton
Synopsis: Director Massimo Dallamano brings us his Giallo classic “What Have You Done to Solange?” about a sexually sadistic killer who preys on the girls of St. Mary’s school.
Director Massimo Dallamano brings us his Giallo classic “What Have You Done to Solange?” about a sexually sadistic killer who preys on the girls of St. Mary’s school. Student Elizabeth witnessed one of the murders, but her hazy recollections of a knife-wielding figure in black did not help the police’s investigations. Why does the killer choose these young women?
The murder of a London schoolgirl leads to unsavory revelations about the students of an exclusive high school in this sleazy, well-crafted Italian-West German co-production.. Italian gym teacher Enrico Rossini (Fabio Testi) is married to fellow teacher Herta (Karin Baal), and both work at St. Mary’s Catholic School for Girls. Enrico is also engaged in an intense, flirtatious affair with a student, Elizabeth Eccles (Cristina Galbo), and while taking a boat ride with her on the Thames, she claims to see the flash of a knife from shore. He dismisses her fears, but the next day the body of young Hilda, another St. Mary’s student, is found on the shore. Enrico goes to look at the body, and though all the teachers are interrogated by the police, he’s singled out for suspicion by Inspector Barth (Joachim Fuchsberger). Of course, he was reluctant to admit that he was near the crime scene because he fears that his relationship with Elizabeth will be discovered so Enrico begins investigating on his own. A second student (Pilar Castel) is murdered, and then Elizabeth falls victim to the vicious killer immediately after admitting that she may have seen the killer, who was dressed in “a long black habit” like a priest. Ironically, Elizabeth’s death, and the discovery that she was still a virgin, brings Enrico and Herta closer together, and she helps him track down rumors that the three girls were part of a clique who participated in lesbian experimentation and wild sex parties with older men. The group included a girl named Solange (Camille Keaton), to whom something terrible happened. With lust, murder, schoolgirls, nudity and a general atmosphere of perversity make this nasty thriller a favorite of giallo fans.
While the title of the film is “What Have You Done to Solange?”, the character, Solange, isn’t even mentioned for 71 minutes of this film, and then doesn’t materialize until sometime after that. While we wait for Solange to appear so that we may learn of her fate, we are treated to many characters and but not enough action.
This film is based on a novel by Edgar Wallace, who is believed by many to be the father of the giallo, and exhibits all of the typical positive and negative traits that can make or break a film in this genre. On one hand, the movie is visually slick visual style— there are several murders, and while they aren’t overly violent or graphic, at least one will bring about a cringe . Giallo films are notorious for adding sex into the mix, and there are several gratuitous scenes of barely-clad schoolgirls on the campus. On the other hand, there are moments where the film moves along at a snail’s pace, and the viewer isn’t given a great deal of new information especially during the second half. As with many gialli, there aren’t enough clear-cut suspects here and in this it differs from American mystery films that challenge us to guess the killer’s identity based on clues given. In some Italian films, no clues whatsoever are given.) When the killer was finally revealed, I had to watch some of the film again just to understand what happened.
Once the secret is revealed, it is quite shocking, even by today’s standards. The film is well made and the ending is intriguing, but this can only be recommended for hardcore fans that have already seen all of the classics.
The extras on the DVD include:
* Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative
* High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
* Original Italian and English soundtracks in mono audio
* Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
* Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
* Brand new audio commentary with critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman
* What Have You Done to Decency? A conversation with Karin Baal – the actress shares her thoughts on Dallamano’s classic giallo in this brand new interview
* First Action Hero – a newly edited 2006 interview with actor and former stuntman Fabio Testi, including a look at his role in Solange
* Old-School Producer – a newly edited 2006 interview with producer Fulvio Lucisano
* Innocence Lost: Solange and the “Schoolgirls in Peril” Trilogy – a brand new visual essay by Michael Mackenzie, exploring the themes of Solange and its two semi-sequels
* Original theatrical trailer
* Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Malleus
* Collector’s booklet featuring a new article on the giallo scores of Ennio Morricone by Howard Hughes, alongside a Camille Keaton career retrospective from Art Ettinger, comprising interview excerpts with the Solange actress, all illustrated with original archive stills and posters.