Review by David Paul Hellings
From director Massimo Dallamano, cinematographer on both A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More, comes giallo classic What Have You Done to Solange? the debut feature of actress Camille Keaton (I Spit on Your Grave).
A sexually sadistic killer is preying 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 do nothing to further the police’s investigations. Why is the killer choosing these young women? And what does it have to do with a girl named Solange?
Also starring Cristina Galbo (Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue) and Fabio Testi (I Spit On Your Grave), What Have You Done with Solange? features all the hallmarks of classic gialli – the amateur detective, the black-gloved killer – as well as a lush score from Ennio Morricone.
– via Arrow Video
Giallo favourite “What Have You Done to Solange?” arrives on Blu ray with an excellent 2K transfer that is sure to please fans of director Massimo Dallamano’s 1972 film. With one of those titles that apes Dario Argento’s breakthrough success “The Bird with the Crystal Plumage”, ‘Solange’ successfully manages to stand firm as its own piece rather than providing an inferior copy of Argento’s debut.
‘Solange’, set in London, follows a number of the giallo tropes seen in both the works of Mari Bava and Argento: the black gloved mystery killer, the red herrings, the protagonist trying to solve the mystery (inspired very loosely by source material from the writer Edgar Wallace), whilst also proving refreshing in its approach. We have the initially unsympathetic protagonist (nicely played by Fabio Testi) and a London setting (if somewhat geographically unsound as characters cross the city in seeming seconds) that adds to the mood of the piece.
The catholic girls’ school setting of ‘Solange’ (as did the reclusive dance school of Argento’s “Suspiria”) provides a location in which secrets live in the darkness and the search for truth is elusive. Director Dallamano had already proved himself an excellent cinematographer working with Sergio Leone, and the many and effective close ups within ‘Solange’ reflect a certain Leoneesque style; but Dallamano puts together a film that isn’t purely about the visual, building strong character relationships also, all well played by the mainly European cast.
The score by Ennio Morricone is not as eclectic as his work for the excellent “The Bird with the Crystal Plumage”, but is far stronger than “Four Flies on Grey Velvet”, resembling more his lush work on “A Fistful of Dynamite” and “Once upon a Time in America”. It’s a soundtrack that’s very much in keeping with the film and one of his strongest of his giallo period.
The curiosity of ‘Solange’ is that the subject matter was far more controversial in Italy than it was in the UK: (Major spoiler: as abortion was no longer illegal in Great Britain). Still, the nature of the killings remains shocking and unpleasant and the film’s opening is a striking and effective scene that ranks amongst the best of the genre.
“What Have You Done To Solange?” rightly remains one of the most popular giallo films ever. Avoiding the often nonsensical plots of many other films of the period, Massimo Dallamano created a tightly woven mystery that has stood the test of time. ‘Solange’ isn’t an outlandish exercise in high style over content but a stylish film focused on its storytelling. There are characters that change and surprise, and those whose motivations remain unclear until the very end.
The Blu ray restoration is excellent, presenting a sharp image that retains its filmic grain and natural colours, the film looking as good as it did on release, if not better. The audio options are excellent, the choice of English language dubbed or Italian language with/without English subtitles.
Amongst the quality special features, the strong standout is another excellent commentary track from critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman, which should be listened to after watching the film to enjoy the engaging experts who are often amusing as well. Their previous commentaries on “The Bird with the Crystal Plumage” and “Suspiria” reflect that they’re the go to guys on horror.
“What Have You Done To Solange?” is a must own release for fans of giallo. Highly recommended.
“Arrow Video is pleased to announce the release of What Have You Done to Solange?, Massimo Dallamano’s (cinematographer on both A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More) classic giallo which comes to Blu-ray and DVD in a brand-new 2K transfer taken from the films original negative.
Scored by Ennio Morricone, What Have You Done to Solange? was the debut feature for actress Camille Keaton (I Spit on Your Grave). The new disc comes loaded with features including a newly recorded audio commentary with critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman, a newly edited archive interview with actor Fabio Testi and a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Malleus”.
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”.
This review originally appeared on SFFWorld: