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What Have They Done to Solange? puts all of it's efforts into the mystery
that it is uncovering. Unlike a lot of giallo, this one doesn't put the
focus on overly gory death scenes and use the mystery as an excuse to string
them together; it's focus is the mystery, and the murders are secondary to
it. Due to the graphic and sexual nature of the death scenes, however; this
is probably a good thing. The plot of the movie follows an investigation of
the death of a schoolgirl. After the death, a teacher at the school, Enrico,
becomes the main suspect because of his close affiliation to several of the
girls in his class. When more schoolgirls turn up dead, Enrico and his wife
decide to try and solve the murder themselves.
The mystery pans out very intricately, and small clues as to who is the murder and their motive are given out slowly as the film goes along; thus keeping your interest, but not giving you enough to chew on so that you will be able to solve the mystery, but it does give you enough to chew so that you will be able to develop theories as to who the murderer is. This is a very good thing, as it makes sure that the film is interesting throughout and it is guaranteed to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Trust me, you'll be begging to know who and why after the amount of suspense this movie builds up. That's not to say that this movie is all build up either; it pays off the viewer's patience at the end with a conclusion that is satisfyingly tragic, and also one that makes sense, and thereby gives the murderer and his intent a definite degree of potency, and we can even feel a little bit for him. A lot of Italian horror movies seem to fall down at the end as their conclusion doesn't make perfect sense, but that is not true of this movie; and that is a definite plus point.
This movie is given another edge over a lot of other giallo thanks to a great score by the king of great scores, Ennio Morricone. As usual, Morricone's score fits the film and gives it more reason to be memorable. The acting in What Have They Done to Solange? is not one of its main plus points, but it's not bad either. The screenplay is great, though, mostly due to the fact that it doesn't feature anything that's needless and it keeps developing for the entire duration of the movie, and this therefore makes sure that the viewer has to pay absolute attention to the film as missing two minutes of it could result in missing something important to the mystery, and it therefore ties the viewer to the movie in that way. This movie isn't as heavy on style as other giallos; as previously mentioned there's no overly gory death sequences, but it more than makes up for this loss in style with an abundance of substance, and that is better for this kind of intricate mystery.
Overall, What They Done to Solange? is an absolute highlight of the giallo style and is therefore recommended to anyone that likes this kind of movie. Unfortunately, What Have They Done to Solange is not readily available and that therefore means that people that want it will have to dig for it; but trust me, it's worth it.
An innocent teacher is suspected of a really sick series of murders (after this film, the verb "to solange" should have been added to the dictionary) and must clear himself, ala Hitchcock. Supposedly based on one of Edgar Wallace's books (there _is_ a hidden room), they still must have taken an awful lot of creative license. Joe D'Amato uses the 2.35 frame as only a style-uber-content DP can, though Dallamano deserves a lot of credit for making the story so engrossing. Morricone's score is truly haunting (available on CD with his score for Lenzi's "Spasmo"), adding a note of sadness to the gruesome proceedings. As with the best horror, there's nothing explicit in the murder scenes, wisely leaving the details of the truly hideous murders to the viewers' imaginations. ("Giallo in Venice" also featured a murderer solanging a victim but ruined it by showing the whole thing.) This one's definitely worth checking out, though widescreen is a must.
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE?
If you are reading this review, then the likelihood is that you already know firsthand or have a very good idea of what a great giallo thriller this film is. I don't want to say too much, because as anyone who has seen this film already knows, divulging even the most minor details can potentially spoil everything. This much I CAN say:
Elizabeth is a young woman having an affair with her married Catholic high school teacher, Henry. One one rendezvous she witnesses what she believes to be a murder committed by a man dressed like a priest. Sure enough the body of one of Elizabeth's classmates turns up, and not long after more of her classmates show up dead. The only apparent link is that all of them are attending the same Catholic high school, and all of them are killed in the same shocking manner (I won't divulge the vital MO used by the killer, but I will say that you'll be glad it's not explicitly shown!). But as sophisticated giallo fans know, there is indeed a connection between this string of dead girls. It's up to Elizabeth, Henry, and Herta to uncover the dark secret of exactly what has been done to Solange...
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE? gets off to a rather slow start, and I have to admit that for the first 30 min or so I thought that the film was going to be a vastly overrated disappointment. However, much to my satisfaction, I was quite wrong. Although it takes a while to get there, once this movie gets going, it simply does not let up. That's not to say that it has a particularly fast pace, but the story unfolds with so many twists and turns and new characters that mystery fans will be tingling with glee. As if the intriguing title were not enough, the slowly but surely unfolding technique of the screenplay will leave your mouth watering for a big pay off. And, unlike 99% of otherwise good thrillers, this movie has an extraordinary denouement. The final minutes of the film will shock you, stun you, and have you starting the film all over again. Furthermore, the killer's identity in the film is not only a surprise, but it also makes perfect sense in the context of the story...a rare feat achieved in thrillers, but one which caps off the film quite nicely (to say the least!).
I would not go so far as to say that I could see this film being written/directed by Dario Argento, because it is not quite as exciting or edgy or offbeat as his works. However, unlike many of the giallo thrillers that have managed to make it to the US (dozens and dozens were produced in Italy during the early 70s, only a fraction of which were distributed in the US one way or another), "Solange" is a film which can certainly be ranked on the same level as some of Argento's classics. I might not put it up there with Deep Red or Tenebre, but I'd certainly place it on the same ranks as The Animal Trilogy.
Even if you have never seen this film before, I can assure you that it will be worth owning for any fans of thrillers/gialli/Italian horror. It's simply stunning, and speaking as an avid fan of Hitchcock, Bava, and Argento, I cannot recommend it enough.
My Grade: A
This is not only one of the best, but also one of the most important
Italian gialli in that it forms a nexus with a two other genres of film
that influenced or were influenced by the gialli. This was a West
German co-production, nominally set In England, and (very loosely)
based on an Edgar Wallace novel which connects it to the West German
"krimi" series, a more obscure series than the Italian gialli but a
clear influence on the latter. Stylistically, this colorful and garish
film is much more of a giallo than a krimi, but influence is there, and
it features Joachim Fuchsberger and Karin Bal, who were both popular
actors in the earlier krimis, in supporting roles .
Perhaps even more interesting is the connection between this movie and the American/Canadian slasher films. Along with "Bay of Blood", "Schoolgirl Killer", "Torso", the Spanish film "La Residencia" and the British film "Assault", this was one of the European films that received the widest release stateside and probably had the greatest influence on the early slasher genre. This movie kicked off what could be called the "schoolgirl gialli". Unlike the other gialli, which focused on decadent adult European jet-setters, but like the slasher films, the "schoolgirl giallo" had seemingly innocent adolescent protagonists being picked off by a deviant, but often moralistic killer. But while the slasher movie victims were merely guilty of promiscuity and other typically irresponsible teen behavior, their schoolgirl gialli peers were engaged in behavior that one hopes even in Europe at the time wasn't typical--ie. teen prostitution, sex orgies, back-alley abortions.
Even though it was made years earlier, this movie is actually a lot sleazier, but also much better made than the vast majority of slasher films. The "hero" is a gym teacher at a private girl's college who witnesses one of the murders. The problem is he was schtupping one of his students in a rowboat at the time! It greatly helps though that this character is played by the very likable Fabio Testi. It also helps that none of the girls is especially believable as a "sixth former"--the victims, who are dispatched in very unpleasant (and full-frontal) fashion are too voluptuous to be believable as teenagers, while the two female leads--Spaniard Cristina Galbo and American Camille Keaton, were actually both in their early twenties at the time and at the very height of their very considerable beauty. Most importantly, however, this movie is very well-made and stylistic with an excellent musical score. Director Massimo Dallamano ranks right up there with Mario Bava, Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, and Sergio "Torso" Martino as one of the true masters of the Italian giallo thrillers.
For what it's worth I personally own over 120 Italian gialli, and though I would be loath to rank all of them, I would certainly put this one in the top five.
This is a good murder mystery, based on an Edgar Wallace novel. It has all
the ingredients of a good giallo: horrible murders, sex, religion and
nightmarish flashbacks.(Especially the one at the end is bound to give you
The plot isn't always logical, and the acting isn't very convincing. But the direction is good and the music by Ennio Morricone is one of the best scores he has ever made.
If you like the movies of Dario Argento, you'll love this one.
I was completely enthralled by this picture. This has to be not only one of the best Giallo's made but one of the best horror films. It has it all, beautiful woman, graphic murders, copious nudity, dubious dubbing, great suspense and a great musical score. All fans of the genre should not miss this one.
What a remarkable film! In spite of high expectations and entirely
praising comments by fellow Horror fans, Massimo Dallamano's "Cosa
Avete Fatto A Solange" aka. "What Have You Done To Solange" of 1972 was
still capable of astonishing me with its brilliance. This complex and
mesmerizing film delivers cinematic perfection in every aspect and
stands out as one of the most ingenious Gialli ever made. I am an avid
fan of Gialli, and this is an absolute must-see for every fan of this
great (sub-)genre. "What Have You Done To Solange" is not only
essential to those who share my enthusiasm for Italian Horror cinema,
however. Be it the convoluted plot, the ingenious camera work, the
brilliant score by Maestro Ennio Morricone or the constant, tantalizing
suspense - there is not a single aspect that is not brilliant about
this stunning film, that I highly recommend to any suspense-lover in
Henry Rossini (Fabio Testi), a married Italian teacher at a Catholic London private school for girls, has an affair with one of his students (Christina Galbó). When they are having a romantic boat-ride on the Thames, the girl suddenly yells that she has just seen a knife. Henry first laughs her claims off as hysteria, until the body of another girl, also one of his students is found right at the exact same spot the following day. It is not long until other murders of girls occur, all carried out in the same, horrid manner...
The film is not as gory as many other brilliant Gialli (such as Dario Argento's films), but the manner in which the murders are carried out is more than a bit nasty. The film has one of the most compelling plots ever in Horror cinema, and is stunningly suspenseful from the very beginning. The eerie atmosphere is even intensified by a brilliant and mesmerizing score by none other than the great Ennio Morricone. The brilliant cinematography was done by Joe D'Amato, the infamous 'king of sleaze' himself who shocked audiences in the 80s when he directed gruesome productions such as "Antropophagus" and "Buio Omega". The performances are also excellent. Fabio Testi, who is famous among fans of Italian genre-cinema, mainly for starring in crime and police flicks, stars in his most memorable role here. Karin Baal is excellent as his German wife, and Joachim Fuchsberger delivers a solid performance as the investigating police detective. Great performances also come from the sexy female cast, most memorably from Camille Keaton, who is best known for the infamous Exploitation shocker "I Spit On Your Grave" of 1978.
Like two other excellent Gialli (Argento's "Bird With The Crystal Plumage" and Lenzi's "Seven Blood-Stained Orchids") this was heavily cut and sold as an Edgar Wallace film in Germany. People in German speaking countries: Avoid the mutilated German version and get uncut international versions instead. This is brilliant suspense cinema at its finest and an uncut version is absolutely essential! I could go on praising this film forever, but instead I will end my review with a recommendation: Get "What Have You Done To Solange" as soon as you possibly can! It is easily one of the most compelling Gialli ever made and absolutely essential for every Horror-lover to see! 10/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The opening to "Solange?" has the ring of familiarity to it. The
setting is outdoors on a riverbank, the characters are Elizabeth
(winsome English Rose) and Enrico (passionate Italian male). The camera
closes in on Elizabeth's eyes as she finally succumbs to the older
man's advances when images flash suddenly across the screen - a girl
running, an outstretched hand, the flash of a blade - courtesy of some
seamless editing. It's an exercise in how unsettling something can be
when occurring on a bright sunny day. It also employs Argento's
recurrent motif of skewed perception. Elizabeth (Cristina Galbó) is
unsure of what she's actually seen and Enrico (Fabio Testi),
exasperated by what he assumes are delay tactics, brings the boat to
The following morning a body has been found on the same stretch of the Thames. A girl from Elizabeth's school has been knifed to death in a manner that will have you crossing your legs for the duration. Having left behind a piece of evidence which places him near the scene of the crime, and later caught on camera among a throng of onlookers by a TV crew covering the story, Enrico (the girls' tutor) finds himself with some explaining to do. It's not long before others fall victim to the maniac, and as pieces of the puzzle are uncovered little by little, the mystery seems tied to a particular clique of students and their association with the enigmatic girl in the title, who left the school suddenly the year before.
Right from the start we're in very assured hands. This is a giallo which pretty much has it all, balancing the stranger in a strange land figure (Enrico) compelled by circumstance to find out his own answers to a series of brutal murders by a black-gloved killer, with a police procedural element which for once is treated with absolute seriousness and a deft touch. Joachim Fuchsberger (Inspector Barth) gives arguably the best portrayal in the genre of an investigator in charge, being neither bumbling comic relief nor bullish, misogynist caricature. Everything is treated with care and reverence, relying on solid fingerprint policing rather than outlandish pseudo-science, which in itself raises the film a few notches above average. Every clue, every red herring, every motive is duly noted and accounted for and used to drive the story along a series of ever darker revelations.
Along the way, Dallamano is careful to anticipate our anticipation and gives little twists throughout to narrative and character. Enrico's wife Herta (Karin Baal) starts life almost as a parody of both the wronged wife and the Teutonic blonde (think Helga from 'allo 'allo with her blouse buttoned up) gradually becoming a more nuanced, genuinely sympathetic individual. Enrico (as the tutor engaged in an affair with one of his students) is painted in shades of grey, rather than as the complete louse we might expect, and when the illusive Solange (whose presence here is something akin to Hitchcock's "smoking gun") makes her entrance via a quirk of serendipity shared with the viewer alone, she resembles a pallid version of Botticelli's Venus, the subtlety of which only becomes clear with time. Even perfectly innocent London street names ("Evelyn Gardens") take on more sinister connotations.
What impresses most is how Dallamano - mindful of his choice of victim - manages to foster a feeling of genuine shock in everyone right down to the minor players, and makes some effort to deal with the after-effects of the killings. A scene where Barth interviews the shell-shocked parents of the first girl is sensitively handled and admirably underplayed. In a neat piece of editing the father's reaction to the facts of his daughter's demise is transported into the following scene at the girl's funeral. The sleazier aspects of this "schoolgirl slasher" are, on the face of it at least, mitigated somewhat by the fact the schoolgirls are actually eighteen (and everyone looks about five years older than they are). The requisite nudity is largely confined to the girls' shower room, and beyond mere titillation these scenes epitomise the film's undercurrents of secrecy and confession, as the girls share whispered confidences while we are led by the camera into collusion with the local peeping tom, POV-style, through a hole in the wall.
In doing so the film points to the viewer and to itself via a form of oblique morality play. It's no coincidence that the river bank murder and Elizabeth's further recall occur during the film's two seduction scenes, symbolically the threat being as much to Elizabeth's virtue from Enrico's ardent wedding tackle (intent on a little death of its own) as much as from the killer's knife. Placed in context, "Solange?" is set in a period when society was still coming to grips with all the swinging that began a decade before. On the surface it's a gripping Italian thriller with all the key elements in place and where the killer's true motive holds water, but at its core it can be viewed as a subversion of the giallo genre, lamenting on innocence lost and the accelerated haste with which child becomes adult (often stumbling in the process) both then and now, leaving its audience to ponder some uncomfortable truths. This is an outstanding entry in the genre and an affecting slice of cinema, with quality dubbing and a widescreen presentation that makes the most of its outdoor settings creating a nostalgia for a London long gone.
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE? (1972): Enrico Rossini (Fabio Testi) is
a married teacher involved in an affair with one of his students,
Elizabeth (Christine Galbó). One afternoon in a park, while enjoying
one of their amorous trysts, Elizabeth witnesses the murder of a young
woman, a crime that her lover does not see. When the corpse of a
student is found at the park, the teacher finally believes Elizabeth
and decides to revisit the scene of the murder. More girls are killed
and the police begin to suspect that Enrico is the murderer. In a
desperate attempt to clear his name, Enrico turns detective and
eventually discovers the secret of a young woman named Solange (Camille
Keaton), whose shocking past is linked to both the killer's choice of
victims and the gruesome manner in which he dispatches them. This
solidly plotted and engrossing murder thriller is easily among the
finest galls ever made. The conventional storyline is enlivened with
genuinely surprising twists, strong characters and a shocking,
unexpected ending. Slickly directed by Massimo Dallamano, and featuring
striking cinematography by Aristide Massachessi (who, as Joe D'Amato,
had a subsequent career as one of the most incompetent directors of all
time), SOLANGE is an unusually well made and restrained Italian
thriller. Excellent performances from Fabio Testi, Joachin Fuchsberger,
Karin Baal and the beautiful Christine Galbo raise the movie's quality
level even higher. A fine, moody Ennio Morricone score provides some
necessary tension enhancement. If you've never seen a Gilli before, the
film is a great starting point for anyone interested in taking an
initial plunge into this fascinating genre.
The Shriek Show DVD is one of this small company's finest releases yet. The widescreen (1.85:1) transfer features gorgeous colors and sharp detailing, with only a few speckles, hair marks and some modest print damage. The movie itself is the real prize here as the extras are fairly skimpy: A poster and lobby card gallery is scored to the movie's main title theme and a nice 12 page booklet is provided with liner notes and quite a few stills. Finally, five trailers are included, for SOLANGE itself and some other related Shriek Show releases. Despite the lack of enticing extras, this is a worthy addition to any horror/suspense enthusiast's DVD library.
The intriguingly titled giallo classic "What Have You Done To Solange?" (1972) is a film that certainly does live up to its excellent word of mouth. While the less said about its twisty-turny story, the better, I can mention that the plot here concerns a string of brutal murders that have been plaguing an all-girls' Catholic school in London, and the hunky Italian gym teacher (well played by Fabio Testi) who is having an affair with one of the young women (the gorgeous Spanish actress Christine Galbo). But things get a bit complicated when this student witnesses one of the murders during a Thames pleasure outing... Regarding those murders, perhaps "brutal" isn't a strong enough word to describe them, as this giallo nutjob has a tendency to stick his knife...well, this is a family Web site, so perhaps I shouldn't say. Mercifully, these slayings are not at all graphic--the picture would have been rated XXX if they were, and would have been too terrible to watch. Indeed, this film features hardly any gore at all; the suggested acts are quite bad enough. Still, this is an excellent example of the giallo genre, with a meaty, involving story; numerous shifty-eyed suspects; loads of pretty women; and the requisite murder set pieces. Massimo Dallamano has directed his film impeccably, eliciting fine performances from every player; the legendary Ennio Morricone has supplied an alternately lovely/creepy score; and cameraman Aristide Massacasi has nicely captured the beauty of London and its countryside. The film has been superbly dubbed--indeed, it looks as if the actors were originally speaking in English!--but the image on the Shriek Show DVD that I just saw looks cropped at the edges, as the opening and closing credits reveal. Also, I couldn't get the extras to work, for some reason. Still, the film looks clean and bright, and is not to be missed. It was even better the second time I watched it!
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