1972 - 107m.
The giallo is a difficult genre to master. As with the slasher films in the U.S., many gialli have very similar plots so the viewer is often looking for style, violence, twists, and sex to make a film stand out. What Have You Done to Solange? is often found on top ten lists when people are discussing giallo flicks so I had high expectations going into this one. Perhaps because I recently revisited Tenebre or because I was super impressed with another classic of the genre in the last year (Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key), I was a little underwhelmed with Solange. When I first watched this, I found that it dragged on and I wasn't that interested until near the end. It is not a bad movie but it lacks the intense murder set pieces that usually appeals to me in this genre and ends up feeling somewhat slow and confusing. That being said, this is one of those movies that I appreciated more after multiple viewings but it does not pack that initial punch that will draw casual viewers in. The story is based on an Edgar Wallace tale and takes its cue from the popular Krimi movies that were coming out of Germany at the time. This is a German-Italian co-production which helps to explain where this influence came from.
Italian western/gangster movie star Fabio Testi (Contraband) stars as Enrico, a gym teacher at a girl's school who is having an affair with one of his students named Elizabeth (Cristina Galbo - The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue) in his spare time. On one of their make-out dates, Elizabeth thinks she sees someone getting murdered but Enrico thinks she is just trying to get out of sexy time so he dismisses her concerns. Soon after returning home to his wife, Enrico hears on the news that a murder actually did take place and he goes back to the crime scene and inadvertently makes himself a suspect. More schoolgirls die and Enrico works to unravel their murders and the mysterious disappearance of a young woman named Solange (Camille Keaton). As they get closer to the truth, the horror of what happened to Solange becomes apparent leading to a disturbing conclusion.
This flick starts out strong with Elizabeth being a likable character and the tense relationship between Enrico and his wife Herta (Karin Baal) being intriguing. After the first half hour, I found myself losing interest in the story as it meandered along. Perhaps it was a case of hearing too much hype and expecting too much but I initially felt the movie was all over the place so I was never too engaged with the mystery being unraveled. I appreciated it more the second time around but this movie lacks the tension that make many gialli great although it doesn't shy away from nudity and a gruesome method of murder. Aside from the pacing, I think part of the problem is that I didn't care for Testi's performance and could not engage with this character who is supposed to be carrying us through the story. I found this to be strange as Testi is usually a compelling presence but he plays the role with little emotion resulting in a difficult character to relate to. The most interesting character is that of Solange herself and Keaton does a great job. I only wish that we met Solange much earlier so that the impact of what she goes through was stronger.
Genre fans will know Keaton from the infamous rape revenge shocker I Spit on Your Grave where she was dynamite as the broken victim who exacts revenge on her aggressors. She plays a much different character in this flick but is equally as good and these performances show that she is quite underrated as an actress due to the roles she is known for. It should also be noted that this cinematographer is none other than sleaze king Joe D'Amato showing that he is quite talented behind the camera as this movie is unique and moody in its photography. The music is also above average with legendary composer Ennio Morricone providing the score. Director Massimo Dallamano followed this up with What Have They Done to Your Daughters and Red Rings of Fear over the next few years by returning to schoolgirls in peril but these "sequels" are in theme only. Dallamano was previously an esteemed cinematographer whose credits include A Fistful of Dollars and For A Few Dollars More. He passed away during production of Red Rings of Fear at the age of 59. (Josh Pasnak, 10/15/16)
Directed By: Massimo Dallamano.
Written By: Massimo Dallamano, Bruno Di Geronimo.
Starring: Fabio Testi, Cristina Galbo, Karin Baal, Camille Keaton.