We have all heard of spaghetti westerns but spaghetti horror is not so well-known and here we have an example from 1971, ‘What Have You Done To Solange’, unearthed by Arrow Films who are quite experienced in the resurrection of Italian cinema. It is indeed a strange movie with a strange atmosphere but actually it’s also a curiosity which is certainly worth re-showing. The cinematographer from ‘A Fistful Of Dollars’ and ‘A Few Dollars More’ (both starred Clint Eastwood), Massimo Dallamano, is the director and the soundtrack comes from none other than Ennio Morricone, famous for his tracks to many films, including ‘The Good Bad And The Ugly’. It also features Camille Keaton in her very first movie who later went on to do ‘I Spit On Your Grave’. Also appearing are Cristina Galbo and Fabio Testi who were actors in horror movies way back then.
In the heaps of extra material on the discs you will find the original soundtrack in Italian with an updated English translation. I would recommend you watch this version instead of the one with dubbed in voices because it sounds more natural. This is only a personal preference. of course, but if you don’t mind watching sub-titles, it’s well worth the effort. So what’s this movie all about?
Here is the situation. The setting is a Catholic school for girls in London. Yes, a spaghetti movie set entirely in London and in it you will see how the city used to be with a different skyline, aged vehicles and quaint customs. It was a different city back then with no skyscrapers worth speaking about. A teacher is having an affair with a pupil. Enrico (Fabio Testi) is playing about with Elizabeth Seccles on the water in a rowing boat but she is distracted by the sight of a killer in the woods. It later transpires that one of the other pupils has been murdered and, at first, Enrico gets the blame because, being married, he is at difficulty to explain his whereabouts, especially after he accidentally drops a pen on the ground which can identify him. As the killings of other girls continues, he falls deeper into the mire.
There are many red herrings, some quite easy to spot, but it’s basically a game of two halves when Enrico is able to prove his innocence to the inspector in charge of the case. Unfortunately, Elizabeth is also killed, drowned in her bath. The second half revolves around Enrico’s attempt, along with his wife, to find the killer. It seems to be a priest with a beard! But who is he? Nobody seems to know except that it all revolves around a girl called Solange and she seems to have disappeared somewhere.
While the movie is a good enough whodunnit, it can’t really be classed as a horror movie as such although there are gruesome murders committed. Perhaps it could be classed as a psychological thriller? Despite being a bit disjointed in places, with characters that are not totally convincing, it tries its best to overcome the spaghetti syndrome to be a reasonable movie at the end of the day. It has an 18 certificate but this could have been avoided were it not for some of the aspects of the murders which were of a sickening nature.
Nowadays, we have some movies of the same nature, even TV series like ‘The Bridge’ from Scandinavia, which show bizarre killings of a weird nature. This is more or less the same and the attempts of the police to find the murderer is a botched up affair leading to yet more deaths. Overall, the plot is a bit erratic but it’s quite acceptable and there are no complaints, likewise with the quality of the movie which is sharp and clear through the digital reprocessing which covers up some of the flaws from the original.
Don’t worry about schoolgirls being involved because they are, ostensibly, over 18 though, in truth, they look much older. They are all attractive and during the movie there are plenty of boobs and bums flashing about especially in the shower room where one of the red herrings peeps through a hole in the wall.
With the disc you get plenty of extras. As mentioned, a variety of sound with or without sub-titles. There is a new commentary from a couple of critics, a recent interview with an actress from the movie, an updated interview with Fabio Testi and also an interview with the producer. You will also find an essay by Michael MacKenzie on the theme of ‘Solange’ and comments on the two sequels it spawned. Finally, there is a good booklet containing articles on many aspects of the movie, including pieces about some of the actresses and actors, making the extras a mostly worthwhile exercise.
While this isn’t a spectacular movie by any means, it’s resurrection was probably a positive move on the part of Arrow who are specialists in this sort of thing. It has been on release in the UK for some months now but it has just come on the market in the USA. The UK price at £18 is a bit steep but you do get a couple of discs and plenty of extra material to back that up so it’s probably good enough when all is included. The movie itself deserves to be shown again and it should be recommended.
(region 2/region B DVD/blu-ray: pub: Arrow films. 2 discs blu-ray/DVD. 107 minute film with extras. Price: £24.99 (UK). ASIN: B01555NYLG)
cast: Camille Keaton, Cristina Galbo and Fabio Testi
check out website: www.arrowfilms.co.uk