• What Have They Done To Your Daughters? (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review



    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: August 14th, 2018.
    Director: Massimo Dallamano
    Cast: Giovanna Ralli, Claudio Cassinelli, Mario Adorf, Franco Fabrizi, Farley Granger
    Year: 1974
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    The Movie:

    Massimo Dallamano directed this 1974 film as a pseudo follow-up to What Have You Done to Solange?, a picture he’d made two years prior but this film is far less a traditional giallo than the earlier picture. Rather, the film blends giallo elements with the type of action and high-intensity police procedural aspects that were common in the police films popular in Italy at the time. The results are impressive.

    Inspector Valentini (Mario Adorf), a cop based out of Rome, gets a phone call from an unnamed informant and based on the information he receives, heads out to investigate. This leads him to an old abandoned attic where he finds the naked corpse of a teenaged girl named Silvia Polvesi (Sherry Buchanan) hung from the rafters. At first, Valentini and the rest of the cops figure this is a clear case of suicide (despite the fact that it was tipped off to the cops by an anonymous caller). Given that Valentini has a daughter about the same age as the victim he just found, he takes this case very seriously. Before long, Vittoria Stori (Giovanna Ralli), the Assistant District Attorney, starts to suspect foul play. She looks into Silvia’s past and finds that there are a few reasons to be suspicious.

    The case is handed over to Inspector Silvestri (Claudio Cassinelli). As he starts snooping around and connecting the dots surrounding Silvia’s death, he unearths an underground teenage prostitution operation. It would seem that one of the clients serviced by this ring is willing to do whatever it takes to keep those involved from talking, even if that means murder. As the bodies pile up, the cops quickly realize, as they sift through suspect after suspect, that they’re running out of time.

    Despite a few logic gaps and plot devices best described as remarkably coincidental, What Have They Done To Your Daughters? Is a pretty slick thriller, the kind that easily holds your attention thanks to the right mix of style and substance. The film is well paced and the director’s background as a cinematographer ensures that it always looks great. The story does deal in some pretty dark subject matter, more sensitive viewers could very easily be put off by the subject matter and by how underage prostitution is not only dealt with but displayed throughout certain segments of the film. However, you don’t get the impression that Dallamano is going for titillation here so much as he’s trying to hammer into the viewership the complete disdain that these criminals have for their ‘product.’ The girls were once innocent, but by the time those working things behind the scenes are done with them, that innocence is long gone. This is all played very straight and with a clearly serious intent.

    The story itself does a lot of finger pointing, taking pot shots at the government and its corrupt officials, at an Italian society willing to turn a blind eye to certain disreputable acts and at the police themselves. There’s a lot of social commentary here, it’s thinly veiled and occasionally heavy handed but no less poignant for it. Stelvio Cipriani’s score is excellent and the performances are quite strong across the board. Adorf in particular really shines here, showing some pretty serious range in the picture, particularly when it all becomes more than he’s able to really cope with. Likewise, Claudio Cassinelli steals a few scenes here too. Little details about her character make you wonder just how personally she’s taking this case and why.

    Ultimately if this isn’t quite as good as Solange, it comes damn close. A very worthy follow up made by a talented cast and crew, this is a film that deals in some very unpleasant subject matter – but it does so by providing plenty of food for thought alongside its expertly directed action set pieces and hard-edged mystery tropes.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    What Have They Done To Your Daughters? arrives on Blu-ray from Arrow Video with a transfer that appears to mirror the one used for Camera Obscura’s Blu-ray release from 2016. The film is presented on a 50GB disc in an AVC encoded transfer that is framed at 2.35.1 widescreen and it looks fantastic. Taken from a scan of the original negative, the transfer on this disc really blows previous DVD releases out of the water. Detail is fantastic from start to finish and there’s none of that weird scanner noise that occasionally shows up on Italian titles released to Blu-ray. Detail is quite strong and there’s consistently impressive clarity here throughout. There are no problems with any obvious compression artifacts or edge enhancement. Film grain is here, looking nice and natural, but it’s never distracting and there’s very little actual print damage to note. On top of that we get great looking color reproduction, strong black levels and perfect skin tones.

    The audio for the film is presented in your choice of Italian and English language DTS-HD Mono options, with removable subtitles translating the Italian track available in English only and English SDH offered for the English track. Individual preference will come into play in terms of which dub you like the most, but the English track does seem to match the lip movements of the actors more often than not. Regardless, clarity of both tracks is quite good. Hiss and distortion are never a problem and the levels are properly balanced. The English subtitles are clean, clear and easy to read and free of any obvious typographical errors.

    Arrow includes some exclusive extras on their disc, starting with a new audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films. He talks about how the film connects to the other two pictures in the trilogy and gives plenty of background information on the director’s work both as a director and, equally as important, as a cinematographer. He makes some interesting comparisons between this film and other Giallo pictures made around the same time, offers up some cast and crew trivia, and makes some observations about the effectiveness of specific scenes while also discussing the soundtrack, certain shot setups and more.

    Also exclusive to this release is Masters And Slaves: Power, Corruption & Decadence In The Cinema Of Massimo Dallamano, which is a new twenty-minute video essay by Kat Ellinger, author and editor-in-chief of Diabolique Magazine. It’s a fairly heady but equally interesting deep dive into how specific characters are portrayed and why throughout the director’s work, with an emphasis on the human dynamic that ties different characters together.

    Carried over from the Camera Obscura disc is Eternal Melody, a forty-eight-minute piece with composer Stelvio Cipriani. Essentially this is a career spanning interview with composer Stelvio Cipriani who talks about how he sort of fell into the composing business and the film industry after learning music before then going on to share some interesting anecdotes from throughout his career. There’s also some talk about his work specifically for this picture, what he tries to bring to each film he works on and how he ties this into the film’s genre, how he goes about composing and more. Throughout the interview Cipriani plays various cues on his piano – it’s a pretty great piece and a must for anyone with an interesting in Italian genre film soundtracks.

    Again carried over from the Camera Obscura disc is Dallamano’s Touch. This is a lengthy, twenty-minute talk with editor Antonio Siciliano who worked with Dallamano on a few different films including What Have They Done To Your Daughters?. Here he talks about the man’s directing style, what it was like collaborating with him on various projects, the importance of having the right composer onboard when making a film, and how he got into editing and the film business in the first place.

    Arrow also includes about five minutes of unused sex footage revolving around a portly, older man (sometimes hiding his face with some sort of Kabuki theater style mask) being taken care of by a gaggle of dark haired ladies. This is fairly strong stuff and you can see why it wasn’t used in the final cut of the movie.

    Rounding out the extras are the film’s original Italian theatrical trailer, some optional English credits, a large still gallery, menus and chapter selection. Only a test disc was sent for review but finished product is said to include reversible cover art and an insert booklet.

    The Final Word:

    What Have They Done To Your Daughters? remains a compelling watch, a tense and surprisingly action-intensive mix of genres that takes us into some decidedly dark territory. Arrow’s Blu-ray release is up to the label’s typically high standards, presenting the film in excellent condition and with some fantastic – and exclusive - supplements as well.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!