Starting a new job is often a stressful experience for the best of us; but spare a thought for Vittoria Stori (Giovanna Ralli from the awful Cold Eyes of Fear), the heroine of this ultra-stylish giallo/police thriller, who's first few days as a new Assistant D.A. involve an investigation into the apparent suicide of a naked teenage girl, the uncovering of a sleazy vice-ring of underage schoolgirls, and which looks very much like ending with an appointment in an underground car park with a leather clad motorcyclist wielding a meat cleaver!
A naked fifteen year old school girl is found hanging from a beam in a grotty rented room. Inspector Valentini (Mario Adorf) believes it to be suicide, but when the newly appointed female D.A. Vittoria, studies some film footage of a recent street riot, she recognises the girl as the girlfriend of one of the rioters the police have had under surveillance. It soon becomes apparent, after a bit of investigation, that the girl, Sylvia (Sherry Buchanan) was murdered. A whole bunch of suspicious characters may or may not have something to do with it, including a peeping tom, a housekeeper, and a private detective hired by the girl's parents to keep tabs on her rather precocious sex life. A hardnosed police inspector, Silvestri (Claudio Cassinelli), is assigned to the case and, naturally, bodies begin mounting up as a vicious killer sets out to kill anyone who looks like getting too near to uncovering the truth.
This was director Massimo Dallamano's follow-up to his now acclaimed giallo, 'What Have You Done To Solange?' (1971). That film was a classy piece of unashamed giallo sleaze that, thanks to its unusually strong characterisation, rose far above the pack of similar Italian thrillers which appeared off of the back of the huge success of Argento's 'The Bird With The Crystal Plumage' (1969). WHTDTYD takes the same potent cocktail of underage sex, secret societies and murderous maniacs, and adds a more conventional ''action'' element to the proceedings. In that respect we get the aforementioned motorcycle killer, who as well as being a dab hand with a meat cleaver, also gets to show off his 'Evil Kinevil' skills in a high speed chase through the streets of Rome.
Although it has its faults, I found this film equally as appealing as its predecessor; it sacrifices a lot of the classy atmospherics and the patiently developed story line of Solange for straightforward thrills and spills, and the resolution of the mystery seems rushed and incomplete; but it does contain some fantastic set-pieces — including the previously mentioned hunt through the underground car park — and a fair bit of delightful sleaze and gore! This being an Italian thriller, the delicate subject matter of young girls being abused by an organised vice ring is treated with absolutely no subtlety whatsoever — and this leads to some amusingly brutal dialogue (''This 'thing' that scares you so much is gonna give you a lot of pleasure — now spread your legs!''). Along the way we're treated to the sight of pieces of a chopped up body arranged on a mortuary slab, someone getting whacked in the back of the head with a meat cleaver, and someone reaching for a light switch in a darkened room getting their hand hacked of! The music score from Stelvio Cipriani is great, and keeps things rolling along nicely during the car and bike chases, as well as the tense stalking scenes. The only thing that stops the film getting five skulls is the rather weak ending. We find out too quickly who the motorcycle killer is — it's just a matter of the police finding him; but we never learn why he is so keen to do all of the dirty work to protect the vice ring. Also the leader of the vice ring commits suicide before he can be brought to justice and the rest of them, we are told, are too powerful to be arrested. This feels rather feeble — it means we have loads of loose ends left over, and after struggling to follow the convoluted plot I did feel that the writers owed it to the viewer to make more of an effort to make all the pieces fit together more satisfactorily. Other than that, I was thoroughly entertained, and I think any gialli fan will be too.
Shameless are to be commended for rescuing this wonderful film from its previous shoddy DVD release: Salvation's non-anamorphic treatment was marred by faded colours and a very dark, murky print; as well as a noisy soundtrack full of pops and crackling. Shameless make the film feel like a whole new experience! A sharp, colourful print brings the movie to life all over again, and is well worth picking up even if you've already picked up the Salvation disc. Believe me, you haven't really seen the film until you've watched this vibrant re-mastered version!
What Have They Done to Your Daughters?