42nd Street Cinema

What Have You Done To Solange? (1972)

Finally after much procrastination I finally got around to Massimo Dallamano's Cosa Avete Fatto a Solange? Starring: Fabio Testi, Cristina Galbó, Joachim Fuchsberger.

Reading countless reviews and hearing mostly good things, it struck me that this may not live up to the hype.
Thankfully, it did. It has everything a Giallo movie needs: a fantastic whodunnit plot, countless red herrings, nubile school girls and of course the black leather-gloved killer. Solange is definitely not a cash-in or generic clone.

Solange's plot involves Enrico (Testi), an Italian teacher working at an all-girl Catholic school in London. Spending an afternoon in a rowing boat on the Thames with Elizabeth (Galbó), one of his students whom he's having an affair with, Enrico wants to 'get down'. Suddenly Liz catches sight of a young girl running away from a mysterious figure coupled with the flash of a knife. She tells Enrico, who is quick to dismiss her claims, however later on over a news report, he discovers that Liz was in fact the witness to a murder of young girl. Soon after another girl is killed in the same manner which involves the victim being stabbed through the vagina. It eventually becomes clear that the victims are linked to a horrific event that occurred a year ago involving another girl, who mysteriously disappeared, Solange.
Enrico lies when initially questions on his whereabouts in regard to the first murder to avoid infuriating his wife and fellow schoolteacher Herta (Karin Baal). Throwing a spanner in the works with the possibility of Enrico's affair being brought to light when he is considered a suspect and sets out immediately to clear his name.

What Have You Done To Solange? is a well executed picture that really holds it's own when pitted against other early Gialli affairs like Argento's The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (1970). The killer's POV sequences are so stylishly shot utilizing an obscure 'fish-eye' style, this camera work could serve as inspiration to that in Bob Clark's Black Christmas (1974). The story also holds host to a few controversial topics including; criticism of the Catholic church which is frequently explored in the 2nd half of the film and sexual taboos. The age gap between Enrico and Elizabeth is questionable as is the exploration of killer's modus operandi, combining the penetration of stabbing with that of a sexual nature, leading me into a Freudian nightmare.
The performances from both Testi and Galbó are great. I'd also like to note that Camille Keaton's creepy portrayal of the emotionally damaged Solange is scarring, it's one of the reasons as to why this film lingers around in your mind for a while after you've finished watching it.


Alex B. said...

Joe D'Amato was the cinematographer on this, he also did a terrific job on De Martino's ANTICHRIST, which is boring but visually amazing.
Will have to see this as I'm big Fabio Testi enthusiast.

James said...

Yeah you're right about Antichrist, that flick was a boring Exorcist rip off but it at least it looked good.
Testi is great in this, he looks different with a full beard.

Nigel M said...

ooo I didnt know that Alex! Then again I have always thought that D'amato was unfairly slated- okay his films are rush jobs and some of the stories or themes are a bit trashy but nevertheless he was a man who clearly knew what he was doing.

On the review James, great review and a truly first rate film it is- the more I discover of the directors work the more I like,

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