Arrow Video: What Have They Done to Your Daughters? (1974) - Reviewed

Two years after unleashing the tumultuous and still shocking giallo classic What Have You Done to Solange?, cinematographer turned film director Massimo Dallamano was ready to dive back into the Italian underworld of sex, violence, murder and double crossing in a race against time with the equally perverse and somewhat gorier quasi-sequel What Have They Done to Your Daughters?  Connected only by genre tropes and the filmmaker’s own brand of Euro-sleaze fixations on prepubescent high school girls in and mostly out of uniform at the salacious fingertips of dirty old men, this second installment in the loosely connected Scared Schoolgirls trilogy doesn’t quite measure up to the uncompromising mastery deployed in Dallamano’s previous giallo effort but still serves up its fair share of depravity, women-in-peril thrills including a leather black clad biker maniac wielding a giant meat cleaver and old fashioned police procedural detective story thrills.

Much like Solange, Daughters zeroes in on an underage sex cult involving elderly men preying on schoolgirls as part of a secret prostitution ring.  After the body of a fourteen year old girl is found naked and hanged in her apartment, a criminal investigation is quickly underway with The Suspicious Death of a Minor star Claudio Cassinelli once again playing Inspector Silvestri hot on the killer’s trail with District Attorney Vittoria Stori (Giovanna Ralli) by his side.  As with Solange, there’s a killer running amok picking off witnesses and victims one by one to cover the culpability of those involved in the underage exploits, including some extended chase sequences of duck and cover, hide and seek.  Can the Inspector and District Attorney zero in on the culprits before the murderous assassin takes their lives and whatever salacious secrets they have with them?

Right off the bat, this handsomely photographed genre thriller lensed by The Last Man on Earth cinematographer Franco Delli Colli doesn’t begin to measure up to what director Dallamano delivered previously with What Have You Done to Solange?  Switching from the grand and moody Ennio Morricone to Tentacles composer Stelvio Cipriani presents a welcome change but doesn’t quite reach the majestic heights of Morricone’s score.  The opening track playing over the opening credits and repeated throughout the film of schoolgirls chanting ‘Let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s go!’ doesn’t quite bode as well for the giallo thriller as it should but the score mostly works, particularly in chase sequences of peril.  Like Solange, the music borders on Jazz with hints of strings and percussion during some of the more nerve wracking hide and go seek moments peppered throughout.

Overall the second installment to Dallamano’s Scared Schoolgirls trilogy is a solid giallo entry that just so happened to follow in the footsteps of a genre classic which can’t help but overshadow its virtues.  Fans of giallo will not be disappointed with the proceedings though others who came into the series with Solange fresh in mind will invariably acknowledge it as a step down for Dallamano.  Not quite on par with what preceded it but not to be missed all the same!

- Andrew Kotwicki