Blu-ray review: What Have You Done to Solange?

Starring: Cristina Galbo, Fabio Testi, Joachim Fuchsberger
Director: Massimo Dallamano

Massimo Dallamano’s infamous giallo concerns a group of posh Catholic schoolgirls who are being butchered in a highly sexualized manner by a crazed assailant. One of the girls (Cristina Galbo) thinks she has glimpsed the killer, and meanwhile the randy gym teacher (Fabio Testi) with whom she’s having an affair finds himself liked for the murders by the local plod (Joachim Fuchsberger).

Lushly shot in ‘scope on location in England, the film transplants all the usual beloved giallo tropes to an upper crust, decidedly unswinging London. Aside from a plethora of mini skirts, there’s little evidence of the sexual revolution having taken place, but this actually works to the film’s advantage, making its fantasy vision of a leafy, genteel London seem less rooted in its time than that all those movies that tried to cash in on ’60s psychedelia.

There’s a peculiar echo of Hitchcock’s Psycho in the story structure, which falls rather awkwardly into two halves. That aside, though, What Have You Done to Solange? offers – by giallo standards – a satisfying and logical mystery puzzle, along with everything else you would hope for in a movie of this genre: opulent scene-setting, pretty young actresses, a pervasive air of kinkiness and a controlled brutality in the set-pieces – as in a pivotal bathtub murder which still has a visceral power to shock. Its sexual attitudes are contradictory and unreconstructed, but it’s far more beautiful to look at than most other films made in Britain at the time. 7/10

TRANSFER
A very nice HD transfer, with no grain or damage and a sharp level of detail, and the typically Italian palette of earthy browns, ruddy skin tones and faded blues (plus acid English greens) comes across beautifully. The early Thameside sequences look very fresh and dewy, the wide-angle shots inside the girl’s school have a 3D depth, and the amber-lit scenes of the pupils taking confession are also very crisp. There’s a choice of English or Italian audio. The latter is perfectly serviceable, but the English dub, with its more nuanced script and voice acting, is the place to start. (The actors actually spoke the dialogue in English to help with the lip synch.) 8/10

EXTRAS
14-min interview with Karin Baal (Fabio Testi’s wife in the movie) who has a right old moan about the film and her experiences making it. Among her many complaints, she describes how, instead of actually speaking his lines properly, her co-star Testi would simply move his lips with no sound coming out of them, leaving her to guess what he was saying. ~ 21-min interview with Fabio Testi, looking even more dashingly handsome than he does in the film. He talks interesting about his career (he started as a stuntman), and turns out to be a good source of info on all aspects of the production. ~ 11-min interview with producer Fulvio Lucisano, who provides some insights into Dallamano’s personality and working methods. ~ Scholarly 29-min video essay by Michael Mackenzie, with some nice high-def clips, looking at the film’s precursors and its unofficial sequels. ~ An unmissable audio commentary – how often can you say that? – with Alan Jones and Kim Newman which sees both critics in top form as they ponder the film’s sexual morality, puzzle over its English locations and contemplate its relationship not only to other gialli but also to the genre of German “krimi”. 10/10

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