Wednesday, August 22, 2007
What Have You Done to Solange? (1972)
What Have You Done to Solange? is a prime example of a giallo done right. It is brutal and unflinching, but also takes the time to build up a very suspenseful story filled with memorable and believable characters. Its murder mystery stands out as one of the better stories of the giallo genre and is expertly executed by director Massimo Dallamano.
On the banks of the Thames in London, a Catholic schoolgirl is brutally murdered. A handsome Italian teacher, Mr. Rossini (Fabio Testi), and his pretty young pupil, Elizabeth (Cristina Galbo), are engaging in some extracurricular activities when Elizabeth sees flashes of the murder through the trees. The next day, Mr. Rossini finds out via the news that a girl was indeed murdered on the banks and the murderer is still at large. Even though Elizabeth was witness to the murder, he begs her not to come forward lest their relationship be revealed.
As more girls from the Catholic school where Mr. Rossini teaches are killed, suspicions fall on the good-looking and flirtatious foreign teacher. He and Elizabeth reluctantly come forward to tell what they have seen as Elizabeth remembers more and more what she saw. Mr. Rossini, with help from his German wife Herta (Karin Baal) who is also a teacher at the school, uncover more and more about the secret lives of schoolgirls and learn about a girl named Solange (Camille Keaton, who would later star in I Spit on Your Grave) who might be the key to the hideous murders.
This is seriously one of the best giallos I’ve ever seen and I can’t believe I haven’t seen it until recently. What Have You Done to Solange? does what many giallos and horror films don’t; it focuses on a well-developed story instead of splattering the screen with senseless grue. The mystery of the murders is the focal point for the film as the audience is taken through many red herrings and twists and turns. The horrifying murder scenes are not explicitly shown, which I think was a very wise choice. The murders are very graphic, brutal and hard to look at AFTER the fact, much less while it occurs. The young age and vulnerability of the victims makes the murders that much harder to see, even if just the aftermath is shown. Though the murder scenes are not shown, they still had a very strong lasting impact on me.
The story keeps building the entire time and there’s never a second to catch your breath. I was impressed how the story drew me in and wouldn’t let me go. This is a giallo, so yes, there are some slow moments but these still add to the story and tension. The suspense just keeps building and building and the ending was anything but a letdown. Unlike some giallos, the ending was entirely believable and shocking at the same time. Everything was tidily wrapped up, actually made sense and the revelation of the murderer genuinely surprised me.
The score by maestro Ennio Morricone only heightened the affect of the tight scripting. It helped create an even more mysterious and tense atmosphere. Morricone’s score in What Have You Done to Solange? is haunting and atmospheric; a perfect companion to the events unfolding on-screen.
The acting and the directing of the film were superb as well…even the dubbing didn’t bother me all that much. I haven’t seen any other films by director Massimo Dallamano, but I wish he had directed more giallos. I pretty much loved all the actors, especially the smoking hot Fabio Testi. For the guys, there are copious sleazy shots of naked girls in the showers.
If you are a fan of the Italian giallo genre, I highly recommend What Have You Done to Solange? if you haven’t already seen it. It is definitely one of the better-made giallos that relies on a solid storyline instead of just pretty visuals to entertain the audience.
Available on Amazon!