31 Days of Halloween — Day 10: What Have You Done to Solange (1972) — by Sal Roma

solange-poster-smallEditor’s note: The hosts of Horror Movie Podcast are always impressed by the knowledge and insights of our listenership in the emails and voicemails that we receive, as well as in the comments here at HorrorMoviePodcast.com. This year we’ve asked several of our listeners to participate in our 31 Days of Halloween by contributing written reviews. This, the first such review, was submitted by a long-time listener and friend of the show who goes by the screen-name “Sal Roma” … You can follow Sal on Twitter @JTalley986

Title: What Have You Done to Solange?
Country: Italy/West Germany
Year: 1972
Director: Massimo Dallamano

The film opens up into the idyllic picture of two lovers, Enrico and Elizabeth, wasting the day away in a canoe out in a secluded area of London. Their fun is interrupted by Elizabeth’s brief awareness of a woman possibly running on land and a glimpse of something shiny. Not wanting to share their private spot, this causes Enrico and Elizabeth to leave. The next morning the news breaks that a woman was killed in the woods that Enrico and Elizabeth were in with the only witness to the crime being Elizabeth. The only problem is that Enrico is a married man and he’s a teacher at a Catholic High School to the underage Elizabeth.

From there, the film evolves into a giant mystery with Enrico being stuck in the middle of it all after police find evidence of Enrico being at the scene of the crime. As more girls from Enrico’s school ends up being found dead in a grisly manner, he’s forced to try and solve the crimes himself. Through a series of leads and loose connections, Enrico hears the name that will change everything…Solange. Who is Solange and what role does she play in all of these murders?

As someone who, to the best of my knowledge, has never even heard of What Have You Done to Solange?, I find it a bit challenging to discuss this film without getting fully into spoilers. Typically, I don’t have a problem with that since my reviews are built around my random thoughts on whichever movie I’m discussing. Most of the time, spoilers play a big role in those thoughts. However, this is a giallo film and quite a good one too. As a result, so much of the film is about the mystery and the reveal of spoilers, twists, and shocks. If you have not watched What Have You Done to Solange?, I feel you’re performing a disservice to yourself by not watching it first before reading spoilers.

So if I’m not going into spoilers, what can I discuss? Well, for starters, What Have You Done to Solange?, features some of the nastiest means of stabbing victims that I’ve seen in horror. Each time a victim is stabbed or pictures are shown of the murder scene, it’s so sickening despite the fact that it’s never a very gory visual. In fact, there’s very little blood in the entire movie. The fact that this happens not once, but several times (Counting any times we’re shown flashbacks or photos of the killings), only makes it more repulsive. I can really appreciate how twisted the killings are without going overboard by showing a lot of blood or closeups of the actual attacks. It’s the perfect level of letting what happened be disturbing enough to carry the killings.

Another big plus the movie had going for it is a huge spoiler. There’s a certain big event that happens in the middle of the film that took me by complete surprise. Literally, it’s an event that went against all of my expectations and I loved that a film could surprise me like that. This surprise ended up drastically changing the second half of the film and I’m a little unsure of how I felt about that. On one hand, I just had to appreciate the fact that they flipped the script, causing me to doubt any other predictions I had for the remainder of the film. On the other hand, I liked what they were doing in the first half, so a tiny part of me was disappointed that this portion was eliminated. Still, the event itself is a total blast because of the utter shock of it.

Speaking of spoilers, there’s the title of the film itself. What Have You Done to Solange? Frankly, I didn’t even know who Solange was in the first half of the film! Despite being the title character, Solange is only properly introduced in the final act of the film as the film goes into it’s new direction. Even after Solange is first mentioned, I was left unsure of why she even mattered. It was as if they were telling a story and then threw out a name that didn’t actually bear any significance to that story. Yet when everything comes together and more things are revealed, we learn just how important Solange is and it’s truly (Yet another) twisted aspect of this film. Much like the killings of the victims, I was left cringing at the screen as we learn the truth about Solange.

Like any giallo film, we get plenty of suspects and even more red herrings. I will say that my main suspect for the killer ended up being incorrect. I’m actually glad about this because this character kept getting ignored by the police even though they seemed like an obvious suspect. That caused me to focus on this character and really, what fun is it to immediately guess the identity of the killer? The other possible suspects are mostly minor characters that sometimes are rather unusual-like. There’s one that is seemingly just a little…unbalanced for the sake of being looney. As for the big reveal, I have mixed feelings again. It tied in nicely with the reveal of the big spoilers for the motivation, but it’s odd to me in that they “Revealed” the killer without properly revealing it. To try and explain that better, they made it 100% clear that this character was the killer, since it’s the only person who it could be, but they waited a few more minutes to truly explain that this character is and why they are the killer. It got to the point where I was trying to figure out if there was going to be some last second plot twist with someone else being the killer instead. That didn’t end up happening and it makes me unsure of why they delayed the full reveal. It just made things a tad bit confusing. If you make a killer known, maybe don’t go to the trouble of refusing to show the killer’s face.

Overall, What Have You Done to Solange?, is a film that keeps finding ways to stand out the longer the film goes on. Between the killings, the big surprise, and the reveals, it’s worth watching just for all of this craziness. With the great Ennio Morricone handling the music, the soundtrack is naturally a plus for the film. With a good portion of the film taking place in the backdrop of a Catholic high school, there’s some fun imagery at play. Truthfully, I would have been cool with a greater emphasis on the Catholic imagery. It’s something that seems to be a rare addition to horror with the film isn’t demonic-based. If you’re a fan of giallo films, I’d strongly recommend going out of your way to watch What Have You Done to Solange? because of how noteworthy and surprising it is. After all, I’m going well out of my way to avoid spoiling anything which should clue anyone reading this in that this is a film that is worth spending an hour and a half watching.

9/10 and to buy it.

— Sal Roma

Sal’s Links:
Follow Sal on Twitter @JTalley986
What Have you Done to Solange availability:
– A Blu-Ray/DVD by Arrow was released December 2015.
– $3.99 streaming rental from FlixFling
– Can also  be found on the monthly subscription services of indieflix.com and fandor.com
(Both offer free trial periods)

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8 thoughts on “31 Days of Halloween — Day 10: What Have You Done to Solange (1972) — by Sal Roma

  1. I’m a big fan of this film; great review. I’ve always felt this could be a good intro to giallos for someone interested in giving them a chance. I’m shocked it’s not more well known; especially in horror circles.

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