Stars: Fabio Testi, Cristina Galbó, Karin Baal, Joachim Fuchsberger, Günther Stoll, Claudia Butenuth, Camille Keaton, Maria Monti, Giancarlo Badessi, Pilar Castel, Giovanna Di Bernardo, Vittorio Fanfoni, Marco Mariani | Written by Massimo Dallamano, Bruno Di Geronimo | Directed by Massimo Dallamano
Movies that are described as “giallo” normally tend to depend on certain hallmarks, with the black-gloved killer killing their victims with a sharp knife. We as the audience follow the detective on their mission to hunt down this killer, with the inevitable big shocking finale. With What Have You Done To Solange? we get a film that does stick to these tropes quite heavily, but also subverts this very expectation to make the movie more memorable than most other films of this type.
When a sadistic killer is preying on girls at a Catholic school for girls the eyes of suspicion fall on a handsome teacher who is having an affair with one of the students. When she meets the same fate, the evidence begins to point in another direction. Just who is Solange (Camille Keaton), and how is this mysterious girl connected to the murders?
While the name of the movie hints that Solange should be the main character in the film, we don’t in fact meet her until almost half way through the movie. This is the point where it feels like it becomes a totally different film. What this does to the audience is turn everything upside down and drags us into a whole different world.
What makes What Have You Done To Solange? interesting is that while the first half of the film focuses on the adult perspective of the mystery, as we move into the second we are pointed to the real roots of the story and motives for the killer. In also showing the school girls in a whole new perspective we see that nothing is as it seems.
While What Have You Done To Solange? is an interesting movie, it tends to fall apart a little under scrutiny. If handled better we may feel some sympathy for the killer, but the real revelation as to the reasons for their actions comes way too late to have an impact. While the actions of the school girls may be quite dark, at the point of which we learn them we don’t have time to truly despise them.
As with many of the giallo films though, the best way to watch them is to not scrutinise them for their realism. When taking in that way, what this movie becomes is a surprisingly sleazy Giallo that may shock some, not only for the level of nudity but also the style of murder that it employs. It’ll be no surprise that on its original release it was banned. For those with thicker skin though there are moments that seem darkly comedic, even if this is not the intention.
What the film does handle well is creating the uneasy feeling around the groups of characters. Whether it is the male teachers who have a level of authority, but all come across as sleazy rather than protective. Then we have the girls themselves who are anything but innocent, as the second half of the film suggests. Even though they are set up as being “innocent” the more we learn about them, the more different the world created in the movie becomes.
Arrow Video have provided their usual interviews with the people who worked on the film, as well a visual essay on the film and the other two movies in the “Schoolgirls in Peril Trilogy”. The most interesting feature though is the commentary track with Alan Jones and Kim Newman who provide plenty of information about the making of the film and its makers.
As a giallo, What Have You Done To Solange? Is one of the better ones. Sleazy, and surprisingly graphic in its portrayal of the sadistic murders it manages to first entice the audience in with its almost formulaic nature, before turning everything on its head for the second half of the film. Looking good, and with a nice variety of special features this is an easy recommendation for fans of Italian horror.
What Have You Done To Solange? is available on Dual Format DVD and Blu-ray now from Arrow Video.