What Have They Done to Your Daughters? (1974)

By 1974, the giallo was waning and the poliziottesco was starting to win over the Italian box office. This offering is a hybrid of both — unlike many giallo, the police are not presented as ineffectual or non-essential. Instead, they’re followed for most of the film.

Massimo Dallamano (The Night Child) made What Have You Done to Solange?, a giallo that exists outside of the Argento archetype. He’d follow it with this rougher and much darker — somehow that’s possible! — semi-sequel.

Deputy Attorney Vittoria Stori (Giovanna Ralli, The MercenarySex with a Smile) is a rarity in giallo. She’s a woman in command of the police and never presented as a victim. She’s in charge of the murder investigation of Sylvia Polvesi (Sherry Buchanan, Dr. Butcher M.D.).

Found hanging in an attic, her suicide is anything but, as Inspectors Silvestri (Claudio Casinelli, Murder RockHercules) and Valentini (Mario Adorf, Short Night of Glass Dolls) soon discover. And oh yeah — there’s soon a leather jacketed biker using a meat cleaver to gorily off his or her victims. And a peeping tom, too! And teenage prostitution! And Farley Granger, showing up to class up the proceedings!

Obviously, the look of the killer in this movie would influence a movie that has no interest in classing up the giallo — Strip Nude for Your Killer — and an American movie that gets so close to a giallo but is missing the murderous set pieces — Night School.

It’s a shame that Dallamano died in a car accident at the somewhat young age of 59. As the cinematographer for Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More, he certainly had an eye for action and movement, as evidenced by the hallway chase scene in this film that seems as steady as, well, a Steadi-Cam shot (it isn’t!).

The Giallo Files site compared this movie to an episode of Law and Order. That’s an apt comparison. It’s a good movie to introduce someone to the genre with, as while it has some twists and turns, it doesn’t descend into plot hole jumping or an abundance of red herrings as some films of this genre.

You can grab the Arrow Video release of this movie from Diabolik DVD.

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