Review Date: February 20, 2003
Released by: Shriek Show
Release date: 7/30/2002
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 2.35:1 | 16x9: Yes
Camille Keaton fans rejoice! Not only has her cult classic I Spit On Your Grave
been recently given the deluxe DVD treatment, but her first film, the Itallian giallo, What Have You Done To Solange?
, is also seeing the light of day on DVD thanks to Shriek Show. Gialli films can be hit or miss, so does Solange deliver the goods, or should one just pop in some Argento instead?
The film begins with college teacher Henry Rossini (Fabio Testi
) teaching one of his students, Elizabeth (Cristina Galbo
), a little more than reading, writing and ‘rithmatic. They are going over the birds and the bees on a private boat when they should both be at school. Their rocking with the waves is interrupted when Elizabeth sees a young girl murdered off in the distance. Henry doubts what she saw, but sure enough, it is discovered later that a grisly murder did indeed occur. The victim was also, like Elizabeth, a pupil of St. Mary’s College, and she was murdered most horribly by being stabbed in the vagina by a lengthy knife.
Since Henry was cheating on his wife at the time of the murder, he urges Elizabeth not to approach the police. Commissioner Barthe (Joachim Fuchsberger
) eventually forces both Elizabeth and Henry to confess, but they end up being of little help. The killer was apparently cloaked in a black tunic, suggesting that he may be a priest. Suspicion begins to grow when more girls from the college are slaughtered in a fashion similar to the first victim.
Henry, a known adulterer and womanizer, thus becomes the main suspect, but since this is a giallo, the killer must come right out of left field. The story is given a twist when the titular character, Solange (Camille Keaton
), becomes an important character that provokes the film’s breathtaking finale. She was once a friend to the group of murdered girls, but has been living in recluse for nearly a year. Tension mounts and the titular question is answered in the film’s shocking conclusion.
What Have You Done To Solange?
is an excellent giallo film, ripe with lush cinematography, a classic score, a solid plot and a satisfying payoff. The film was directed by Massimo Dallamando, who served as cinematographer on the western masterpiece A Fistful of Dollars
. Given his background in cinematography, it is no surprise that Solange is full of meticulously composed shots using the entire scope frame. Not only is it a pleasure to look at, but thanks to giallo veteran Ennio Morricone’s aggressive score the film also sounds great.
The quality of a film’s presentation can be useless if the story the film tells is convoluted or uninspired, and thankfully Solange
contains one of the most satisfying stories to come out of the giallo cycle of Italian films from the 70’s. Many gialli are known for their complex plots and almost uncountable array of suspects and characters, but thankfully Solange
keeps the plot focussed and easy to follow. That is not to say there aren’t many twist and turns, because there certainly are, but the film as a whole goes down much smoother than many of the more famous gialli of the time.
Another thing that Solange
excels in is its tight pacing. The film’s momentum is constantly mounting, and although the Solange character is not even introduced until the third act, the story is always focussed and interesting. The nature and the motive of the grisly murders are haunting and really offset the viewer. Like in Black Christmas
, scenes from the killer’s perspective are done with an extreme wide-angle lens, and are really effective.
The final payoff in the film is well worth waiting for. Just when one thinks all the pieces of the puzzle are put in place, the film turns them all upside down. What Have You Done To Solange?
works so well because the ending is feasible and understandable, and feels true to the happenings of the film. Some gialli lose focus when their endings make little sense in context with their previous acts, but Solange contains an ending that is chilling and very satisfying. This is a giallo that hits all the right notes while still remaining wholly ambitious and original, all the way to the eerie closing shot.
Shirek Show presents the film in a sharp 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. For a film that is 30 years old, this transfer looks very nice, with strong saturation and vibrant colors. There are some moments near the end of the film where the print contains some grain, but overall it is very sharp. There is also a blue haze that invades the left and right corners of the frame in some momentary intervals, but they are kept to a minimum and hardly distracting. This is a very solid transfer, and one of Shriek Show’s best.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby mono, and it sounds decent. Ennio Morricone’s score is mixed nicely and sounds good, but there is a slight hiss that surrounds the audio throughout the film. It is at times distracting, but never really infringes on the understanding of the dialogue. The track would have sounded great in 5.1, but for a mono mix for an older title, this is probably the best that Shriek Show could do.
Unfortunately, there is hardly any supplemental content on the disc, and it’s a real shame. The director, Massimo Dallamano, kicked the bucket years ago, but it would have been nice to hear some retrospective interviews from some of the other cast and crew. What is included though, is a handful of trailers, one for Solange as well as ones for Sweet House of Horror, House on the Edge of the Park, Spasmo, and House of Clocks. The trailer for Solange is fairly revealing, so save its viewing until after the film.
Also included is an art gallery that runs a little more than five minutes with Morricone’s moving score in the background. It is all promotional materials, but there is a nice assortment of pictures included. The DVD also comes packaged with a nice press kit reproduction that runs around 10 pages. Included in the booklet are some cast and crew bios as well. Its nice to see Shriek Show put the effort into digging up some nice supplements, but it is too bad no new video content could have been produced for this release.
What Have You Done To Solange?
is an excellent giallo film with a great story, top-notch production values and a chilling climax. The video transfer is excellent, although the audio suffers from mild hissing. There are a few worthwhile supplements, but this disc is highly recommended based on the quality of the film alone. Giallo and Euro horror fans need to check this disc out!
Movie - A
Image Quality - A-
Sound - C
Supplements - C
- Running Time - 1 hour 44 minutes
- Not Rated
- 1 Disc
- Chapter Stops
- English Mono
- Theatrical trailers
- Art gallery
- Press kit reproduction