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  What Have You Done To Solange? Schoolgirls in Peril
Year: 1971
Director: Massimo Dallamano
Stars: Fabio Testi, Karin Baal, Joachim Fuchsberger, Christine Galbo, Camille Keaton, Gunther M. Stoll, Claudia Botenuth, Maria Monti, Pilar Castel, Giovanna Di Bernado, Rainer Penkert, Antonio Casale, Marco Mariani, Emilia Wolkowich, Antonio Anelli
Genre: Horror, Sex, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: High school gym teacher Enrico Rossini (Fabio Testi) is punting along the River Thames with his teenage lover Elizabeth (Christine Galbo) when she spies a vicious murder on the riverbank committed by a knife-wielding maniac. Later that day police find the body of Hilda Ericson, a pupil at the same Catholic Girls' School where Enrico works. His numerous indiscretions with teenage students leave him prime suspect in the investigation carried out by Inspector Bart (Joachim Fuchsberger) and earn the enmity of his wife, Herta (Karin Baal). While the anonymous killer continues targeting girls, Rossini turns detective and discovers the teens were part of a sex clique involving a mysterious girl named Solange who has now disappeared...

Cinematographer-turned-director Massimo Dallamano made some of the best giallo thrillers with his so-called 'schoolgirls-in-peril' trilogy: Red Rings of Fear (1978), What Have They Done To Your Daughters (1972), and most notably What Have You Done To Solange? This Italian/German co-production is actually the last in Rialto Film's series of 'krimi' thrillers based on the writings of pulp novelist Edgar Wallace, in this instance his story 'The Clue of the New Pin.' Despite telling a sordid story rife with sleazy elements including numerous shower scenes with nubile schoolgirls, the film is made with great artistry and panache. Dallamano cranks up the Catholic guilt with a killer disguised as a priest and the blatantly phallic nature of the killer's modus operandi draws explicit parallels between underage sex and death.

As a mystery this has more red herrings than a fish market but still comes across like a 'proper' movie rather than a sleaze-fest. It is well-scripted with believable characters and compelling performances. Fabio Testi, later one of Italy's most popular matinee idols, makes the potentially despicable Rossini a flawed hero while Christine Galbo is memorable as his vulnerable young lover. A mark of its good scripting is how exploring the mystery deepens relationships between principal characters, including a thawing in the frosty gulf between Rossini and his wife. Meanwhile the filmmakers decision to portray Rossini's torrid affair as genuine romantic love makes things just that little bit less sleazy.

Expert scope photography comes courtesy of future porn and exploitation movie mogul Joe D'Amato, including a great bathtub drowning-cum-chase sequence shot from the killer's POV that is as good as anything by Dario Argento. Dallamano, who co-scripted with Bruno Di Geronimo and Peter M. Thouet, leavens the shocks with wry humour including a scene where an exasperated witness struggles to identify a bunch of priests in a police line-up and Rossini's encounter with a nude photo model and her Jimi Hendrix-attired photographer. Ennio Morricone lends a touch of class with another lovely score and lookout for Camille Keaton as the titular teen sexpot-turned-traumatized zombie during the memorably sick finale.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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