Saturday, January 9, 2016

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE? (1972) (Arrow Blu-ray Review)


Label: Arrow Video 

Region: A/B/1/2
Rating: 18
Duration: 107 Minutes
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1)
Audio: English DTS-HD MA MONO 1.0 with Optional english SDH Subtitles 
Director:  Massimo Dallamano
Cast: Fabio Testi, Cristina Galbó, Camille Keaton, Karin Baal

Massimo Dallamano's seminal Italian whodunit What Have You Done to Solange? is based in London as we follow the exploits of a teacher named Henry Rossini (Fabio Testi) who is carrying-on a lustful courtship with one of his teenage students, a young Catholic school girl named Elizabeth (Cristina Galbo). One day while cavorting with amorous Henry at the park the young woman witnesses a murder of another young woman, but Henry does not believe her, that is until she becomes the next victim. Henry is put in an awkward position when his affair with the student is exposed during the investigation, and it just so happens that his wife Herta (Karin Baal) is also on the teaching staff at the very same school, uh-oh.  Strangely, after his young lover is murdered, his troubled marriage seems to grow stronger as Henry begins to sleuth around for the truth about the murderer who is targeting young women at the Catholic school. 

Fabio Testi comes across as a likable enough guy considering he's a married man with a penchant for lusting after teen women, which helps keep you rotting for him I guess. What he discovers after a bit of prolonged amateur detective work is a shocker, as it the brutal way the killer dispatches women, which is sort of the trademark of the movie, the shocking signature of the killer, which is almost comically enhanced by a traumatic x-ray which pops up. However, in between scenes of sleuthing and sadistic murder there's a good bit of paciness to the proceedings. This one has all the style of a classic Italian '70s whodunit and some decent suspense, but may prove to be too much of a slow-burn for a modern audience, however, for myself I found it quite pleasant viewing all the way around. 

Strangely this titular character does not come into play for quite some time, she's a pivotal player though, be patient and wait for it. Enduring the slow-burn nature of this nasty whodunit will payoff with a proper shocker at the end, at the heart of which is the loss of childhood innocence under appropriately sleazy circumstances. 

Fans of giallo cinema should delight in this stylish entry, one with all the proper whodunit watermarks including a black gloved killer, voyeurism, an amateur detective who is also a suspect, some stylish cinematography and a gorgeous score from Ennio Morricone. The performances are uniformly strong, particularly Fabio Testi and Cristina Galbo as the troubled couple, they beach have a wonderful presence onscreen. Keep your eyes peeled for a pre I Spit on Your Grave appearance from Camille Keaton, too. 

Audio/Video: Arrow Video bring this much sought after Giallo movie to the masses in both North America and Europe with a dual-coded region A/B release, the movie benefits from a brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative. Free of any notable print damage, offering a pleasingly crisp image with an abundance of natural film grain with nice depth and clarity to the image. Skin tones come across natural and the colors are nicely saturated, this is a winner of a transfer. Audio chores are nicely handled by an English DTS-HD MA MONO 1.0 track with Optional English SDH Subtitles, the lush Ennio Morricone score sounds superb, dialogue and effects come through clean and nicely balanced in the mix. 

Arrow Video have included some sweet extras including a brand new audio commentary with get a wonderful new audio commentary with horror authors Alan Jones and Kim Newman who are always a delight and seem to be having a great chat about this movie. when it comes to commentaries I will typically eat anything these two do with a spoon, and this one is no different. 

Additionally there are new video interviews with  actors Karin Baal, Fabio Testi and producer Fulvio Lucisano who reminisce about their experiences making the movie. Of note is the half-hour video essay Innocence Lost: Solange and the “Schoolgirls in Peril” Trilogy by Michael Mackenzie which explores not just Solange, but the following sequels, be aware this is not a spoiler-free extra. Lastly we have a trailer for the movie. 

I was send a "check  disc" for review that does not include a sleeve or booklet, but you good folks who seek this release out will also benefit from a sleeve of reversible artwork with original and newly commissioned artwork by Malleusand plus a new booklet with an article on the giallo scores of Ennio Morricone by Howard Hughes, alongside a Camille Keaton career retrospective from Art Ettinger, comprising interview excerpts with the Solange actress, all illustrated with original archive stills and posters. 

Special Features: 

- Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
- Original Italian and English soundtracks in mono audio
- Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
- Brand new audio commentary with critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman
- What Have You Done to Decency? A conversation with Karin Baal – the actress shares her thoughts on Dallamano’s classic giallo in this brand new interview (14 Mins) 
First Action Hero – a newly-edited 2006 interview with actor and former stuntman Fabio Testi, including a look at his role in Solange (21 Mins) 
- Old-School Producer – a newly-edited 2006 interview with producer Fulvio Lucisano (11 Mins) 
- Innocence Lost: Solange and the “Schoolgirls in Peril” Trilogy – a brand new visual essay by Michael Mackenzie, exploring the themes of Solange and its two semi-sequels (29 Mins) 
- Original theatrical trailer (3 Mins) 
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Malleus
- Collector’s booklet featuring a new article on the giallo scores of Ennio Morricone by Howard Hughes, alongside a Camille Keaton career retrospective from Art Ettinger, comprising interview excerpts with the Solange actress, all illustrated with original archive stills and posters

I have waited years to watch What Have You done to Solange?,  the formerly high-priced and out-of-print Shriek show edition kept me away, I am glad I withheld from purchase till now, to be able enjoy the wonderful new 2K transfer from Arrow Video with some quality extras. A high recommend, a stylish and suspenseful whodunit, with a particularly brutal signature murder-move. 4/5