The giallo movie genre is synonymous with Dario Argento. The man basically invented the genre of young women being terrorized by a black-gloved killer while an amateur sleuth is on the case. As much as I love horror films, it wasn’t until after seeing Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz that it ignited my love for the genre.
While Argento may be the undisputed king, there are a few directors who managed to leave their mark as well. And now, Massimo Dallamano’s What Have You Done to Solange? has been given the near Criterion Collection-treatment, courtesy of the U.S. branch of Arrow Video. No longer in need of a region free player, now we can too can bask in the glory of some of the fantastic imports that have been exclusively available overseas.
In London, Enrico ‘Henry’ Rosseni (Fabio Testi) is spending the morning drifting along the riverbank with one of his students, Elizabeth (Cristina Galbo). Suddenly, their bliss is interrupted when Elizabeth has a terrible vision of a girl being murdered and, sure enough, a body is discovered not far from where they are. After Henry returns to the scene of the crime, he becomes a suspect under the watchful eye of Inspektor Barth (Joachim Fuchsberger). As the bodies mount, Henry becomes the prime suspect and must navigate his way through his loveless marriage to Herta (Karin Baal) and stay one step ahead of the killer to find out who’s behind the brutal schoolgirl slayings.
Arrow Video brings Solange to home video in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack on a 50GB disc, framed in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with amazing results. No longer the byproduct of suffering the death of a grindhouse image, Solange has been cleaned up meticulously with spectacular results. While never being quite razor sharp, fine detail is on display in nearly every shot. Whether interior or exterior, it’s unlikely anyone has seen the film look as good as it does now. Nevermind the hair at the top of the screen at the 1 hour 18 minute mark.
Colors are nice and natural and there’s no sign of crush, aliasing, or even banding. Even the Original Italian Mono 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track is clean and crisp. The score by master Ennio Morricone also sounds as vibrant as one could hope. There are, of course, instances where the dubbing doesn’t quite match up, but that’s par for the course and is no reason to mark down the sound. An English DTS track is also available, with newly translated English subtitles for the Italian track and optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English track.
While not quite reaching the heights of a Criterion disc, Solange does come with a wealth of special features. Three featurettes are included, featuring interviews with actress Baal “What Have You Done to Decency?” (13:38), actor Testi “First Action Hero” (21:17), and producer Fulvio Lucisano “Old-School Producer” (11:02). All of these vary in quality and information. Baal seems very dissatisfied with having anything to do with the production and takes every opportunity she has to cut it down. Testi focuses his discussion on his own career. While Lucisano name drops while sharing tidbits about working with Morricone — questioning how the man has not won an Oscar yet, something that could be in the works with his score for Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight — and his meeting with Tarantino himself who loves the film and counts it as one of the films that taught him what he knows about filmmaking.
A commentary with critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman sheds some fun light on the genre and the film itself. “Innocence Lost” (29:00) is an Arrow exclusive video essay from Michael Mackenzie who explores the themes of Solange, along with its two semi-sequels as part of the “Schoolgirls in Peril Trilogy,” a dissection of giallo itself, covering everything from its use of and lack of children to its obsession with killer priests. The film’s trailer (3:05) is included, along with a 27-page booklet featuring articles by Howard Hughes (“A Little Night Music: The Giallo Scores of Ennio Morricone”), Art Ettinger (“Camille Keaton: Solange and Beyond”), and a quick quip about the 2K restoration.
Chock full of everything anyone could want from a giallo film, What Have You Done to Solange? is another classic example of the genre and proves its staying power and influence on directors today. Sparing the audience nothing — from scythed vaginas to nubile schoolgirls showering while being spied on by peeping toms — Dallamano delivers a classic giallo with a fantastic video/audio presentation from Arrow Video, the true masters of restoring the macabre. What Have You Done to Solange? is a great example for anyone looking to dip their toes into something more than run-of-the-mill slashers. They just don’t make ’em like they used to.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B015DAA9SY]