Thursday, August 16, 2018

Better-than-average giallo arrives on Blu-ray: the 1974 Massimo Dallamano/Etore Sanzò WHAT HAVE THEY DONE to your DAUGHTERS?

Italian filmmaker Massimo Dallamano was a B-movie writer/director who came to prominence in the 1970s. Up until then he was a good cinema-tographer whose career spanned the mid-1940s through the mid 60s. His film WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO YOUR DAUGHTERS?, made just two years prior to his death, is a smart little mash-up that conflates the giallo/thriller/police procedural genres, while giving fans of all three a pretty good run for their money.

Well cast using some of Italy's popular actors of the era and written (by Dallamano, shown at left, and co-writer Etore Sanzò) with a good deal more intelligence than many of the then-popular giallo movies, Done/Daughters begins with the discovery of a nude teenager whose death appears to have been a suicide, but of course we suspect it may be a murder. From there the film tackles everything from a teen prostitution ring servicing the rich and powerful (who else?) to government corruption and a very nasty serial killer in a motorcycle helmet who sports a bloody machete. Yes: yikes!

What's going on here, and how the the pair of investigators on the case -- an female assistant D.A. (unusual for the era in which the film was made) and a local police inspector -- discover this is handled with savvy and enough filmmaking skill to keep  the viewer alert and interested.

As suspects emerge (and are sometimes murdered in the graphic, bloody giallo manner), the depth of and disgust we feel for the corruption at hand makes itself keenly felt.

In the role of the female D.A., the beautiful Giovanna Ralli (above, of Deadfall) brings a quiet seriousness to the proceedings that proves a big help in countering some of the sleazier aspects of the film, while Claudio Cassinelli (below, of The Suspicious Death of a Minor) offers the usual solid-if-stolid leading man machismo that's required in this sort of endeavor.

There are a couple of good chase scenes, smart stalking via hand-held camera, and some especially interesting Italian police procedural tactics that keep us interested. Less a who-dunnit? than a who'-s behind-it? scenario, the movie wraps up with multiple resignations borne out of frustration and anger. Well, as the French say (and the Italians certainly understand at this point), plus ça change.....

From that by-now giallo specialist, Arrow Video, the new Blu-ray -- distributed here in the USA by MVD Entertainment Group -- hit the streets yesterday, for purchase and (I would hope somewhere) for rental. As with all of Arrow's product that I've seen, the Bonus Features alone are worth the purchase price. In addition to the excellent Blu-ray transfer, there are some fascinating interviews with the film's composer and editor, a grand new video essay from Kat Ellinger, and even some harcore footage shot for (but never used in) the film by its director.

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