The Film (4.5/5)
I don't like to make generalizations about other people's viewing habits, but it seems with the giallo genre there are multiple tiers in which people come to view these films. Most start out with the most mainstream of directors Fulci, Argento, and of course Bava. They might follow this up with Martino or Lenzi films or descend into more popular entries like The Fifth Cord and this month's Arrow Video release What Have You Done to Solange?
What Have Done to Solange? was made in 1972 just 2 years after the release of Argento's Bird with the Crystal Plumage established the popularity of the giallo as a force in the Italian film industry. The film stars Fabio Testi as Enrico an Italian language teacher at a British school for girls in the London area as the film begins he and his lover Elizabeth (Cristina Galbo) are rowing down the banks of a river with Enrico trying to get into Elizabeth's pants. Unfortunately, their date is cut short when Elizabeth sees the shine off a knife blade and immediately begins to inquire about it.
The next morning it is discovered that one of Enrico’s students was the victim of that shining knife. He goes to the scene to get more information, but is photographed by the local news, which puts him in a curious position. Enrico is married, and Elizabeth was his student, he doesn’t want his employer or his wife to find out about his infidelity, but doesn’t want to be arrested for murder, and he his return to the scene has now positioned him as the primary suspect in an increasing series of brutal schoolgirl murders. This sets Enrico off on his own private investigation into the murders.
There is a reason that What Have You Done to Solange is frequently mentioned alongside the finest films in the giallo genre. It is largely suspenseful piece with enough twist and turns to keep even the most jaded viewers guessing until the end. The film begins as an almost charming little murder mystery that quickly turns disturbing once the nature of the kills are revealed, and of course, the rationale behind them.
The films locale puts it more in line with small town gialli like Avati's House with Laughing Windows and Fulci's Don't Torture a Duckling. The film has a very naturalistic look to it offering a nice change of pace from more slick, urban gialli. The kills in the film are quick, brutal, and totally uncompromising, and certainly still pack the power to disturb nearly 40 years after the film's creation. The performances from Fabio Testi and the rest of the cast are solid for the most part. We are also treated to one of Ennio Morricone's finest giallo scores.
Arrow Video presents What Have You Done to Solange? in a practically flawless 2:35:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer that really makes the film look better than it ever has before. There is excellent fine detail throughout, fantastic color reproduction, and deep blacks. There is a healthy, but unobtrusive level of grain present throughout.
There are 2 versions of the film present here an Italian and English version and both have respective DTS-HD MA mono tracks in their respective languages, both have dialogue that sounds quite good and Morricone's score comes through nicely.
Arrow has put together a nice slate of extras together for their release of What Have You Done to Solange? The Blu-ray kicks off with an excellent and informative commentary by Alan Jones and Kim Newman. We also get a wonderful visual essay in regards to the film and the trilogy it is a part of by Michael MacKenzie. There is also a series of interviews totally 46 minutes in length. The first is with Karin Baal who spends every moment watching the film absolutely hating on it. This in HD the other 2 are ported from a prior release and are in SD. The second interview is with the film's star Fabio Testi, and the third with the film's producer Fulvio Luciasno. The disc is rounded off with trailers, tv spots, and more.
One of the finest gialli of all time finally gets a very deserving release. The Blu-ray looks and sounds amazing, and is loaded up with extras. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.