Recently, I've had an inexplicable desire to give giallo flicks another chance. In the past, I had only caught two or three gialli that I genuinely enjoyed. My favorite would have to be Lucio Fulci's Don't Torture a Duckling, a heartrending whodunit that forgoes zombie-derived putrescence in favor of linear storytelling. As for Dario Argento, I have to recuse myself. I simply don't care for his style, although I've developed a taste for Suspiria. What Have You Done to Solange? was helmed by Massimo Dellamano, a relative unknown amongst casual horror apostles. Is there such a thing as a casual apostle? Nevermind. Hey, I said nevermind. Drop it.
I should warn you that this review will contain partial spoilers. I won't spell out the ending in explicit detail, but it's really best if you go in fresh, so to speak. First, a blithe, air-conditioned synopsis. The students at an all-girls school are turning up dead, their genitals butchered. A professor takes it upon himself to investigate the murders after his teenaged paramour is defiled. He's married to a hot Russian blonde, but that's not enough for him. No, he must sample one of his pupils. I'm not trying to sound bitter; it's just that Enrico isn't the most sympathetic protagonist in the world. Anyway, the unspeakably savage slayings seem to be tied to a missing girl by the name of Solange.
This is a flawed film. But before I scrutinize Solange's shortcomings, I want to stress that I quite like it. The script is easy to follow. These spaghetti slashers tend to get bogged down in circuitous parquetry and dispensable plot points, but Dellamano only divulges information on a need-to-know basis. We learn clues as the characters do, and in consequence, the mystery becomes compelling. For the most part, the pacing is kept in check. Solange does sag in the middle (somewhere, a 13-year-old just snickered), but the eerie finale stitches up the storyline with verve.
Without promulgating key twists, I will say that the actual denouement is a little...shiftless? That's not the right word. Because of the killer's motive, the leads are never in real danger. They are mere bystanders. Suspense is practically non-existent. I wish I could reveal more, but again, you're better off finding out yourself. And now, the important stuff. The gore is adequate, and the female cast members disrobe with great frequency. The screen is crawling with nubile flesh. Ironically, a young Camille Keaton remains clothed. Ha! The bottom line is that What Have You Done to Solange? is worth checking out if you're fond of Italian giallo pictures. End of.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 11:19 PM