What Have They Done To Your Daughters?

What Have They Done To Your Daughters? (Massimo Dallamano, 1974)

aka ‘La Polizia chiede aiuto’ / ‘The Coed Murders’

The giallo and the Italian cop film (or poliziotteschi), having both been introduced during the sixties, really hit their stride at the beginning of the next decade. With scores of the films being released each year, it wasn’t long before enterprising producers and screenwriters were sifting through the best attributes from each genre and combining them to create something more provocative, in a desperate bid to revitalise an industry that was beginning to falter. While there’s no doubt that some earlier poliziotteschi had gialloesque flourishes, and many gialli had a police procedural plot at their core, writer/director Massimo Dallamano’s WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE? (Original Italian title: Cosa avete fatto a Solange?) would define and usher-in the giallo/poliziotteschi hybrid once and for all and lead other filmmakers to try their hand at some genre splicing of their own, such as Umberto Lenzi’s excellent SUSPECTED DEATH OF A MINOR and Dallamano’s own follow-up film, WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO YOUR DAUGHTERS and its Alberto Negrin-directed “sequel” RED RINGS OF FEAR.

With a lullaby-like Stelvio Cipriani music cue juxtaposed against images of young girls frolicking as they leave school, the audience is immediately lulled into a sense that there is a world of discovery awaiting these seemingly innocent teenagers and that the film will play out like some rites of passage melodrama. However, no sooner have the credits rolled, the body of a pregnant schoolgirl is found hanging from the rafters of a bohemian loft and it soon becomes clear that cause of death is murder. So begins Massimo Dallamano’s WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO YOUR DAUGHTERS; one of the finest entries in either the giallo or poliziotteschi genres. Claudio Cassinelli stars as Inspector Silvestri; a determined sleuth that will stop at nothing to blow the lid off the case and catch the culprit responsible. Aided by an assistant district attorney (Giovanna Ralli), Silvestri’s enquiries lead him through a typically labyrinthine plot of intrigue that involves a peeping tom, a hatchet-wielding biker and a teenage prostitution racket; all the requirements necessary for an evening of EuroCult fun. 

While WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO YOUR DAUGHTERS has an aura of sleaziness about it, there’s no denying that the film is an exceptionally well-crafted piece, both in its plotting (the screenplay was written by Dallamano and Ettore Sanzò, based on a story by the latter), Antonio Siciliano’s excellent editing and Dallamano’s interesting use of angles and handheld photography. The film certainly has a distinctive look; one that elevates it higher than many of the films by Dallamano’s contemporaries, simply because it aspires to be more than just a film adhering to the conventions set down by Mario Bava and Dario Argento, and for that it should be applauded. WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO YOUR DAUGHTERS is a rare example of all the elements coming together to produce and an exceptionally satisfying whole; the aforementioned attributes are commendable, but when you add pleasing turns from Cassinelli and the ever-reliable Mario Adorf (who is criminally underused; the film’s one bum note), some taught action sequences involving Alfa Romeos and an unforgettable Cipriani score, you have a EuroCult film that entertains on every possible level.

WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO YOUR DAUGHTERS was originally released on UK DVD by Redemption/Salvation, way back in January 2000, and while it was great to see the film in its original ratio, the non-anamorphic framing and washed-out print left a lot to be desired, so I’m happy to report that this new releases from fledgling EuroCult specialist Shameless Screen Entertainment is a vast improvement. The Shameless disc presents the film in its original 2.35:1 ratio and is enhanced for widescreen displays. The print itself is leaps and bounds ahead of the Redemption release, with colours looking a lot more vibrant. Though there is some grain evident, it isn’t distracting and one would expect that this is probably the best a film of this vintage is ever going to look on a standard DVD release. The sound is presented in English and again, seems to be superior to the Redemption release which sounds tinny and muffled by comparison. Inline with other Shameless discs, the film’s trailer is included, along with previews of other recent or upcoming releases.

WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO YOUR DAUGHTERS is an exceptional film that should find a place in any serious EuroCult aficionado’s collection. If you already own the Redemption release, it’s time for an upgrade, as this is a double dip that is strongly recommended.

(Paul Alaoui)

The New York Ripper

The New York Ripper (Lucio Fulci, 1982)

NEW YORK RIPPER follows the attempts of the New York Police Department, as they try to uncover the identity of a serial killer who’s been slaughtering promiscuous females. Will this sadistic fiend be apprehended before he claims another victim? The film has an extremely simple plot at its core, but as they say, it’s all in the execution. NEW YORK RIPPER is one of the sleaziest, grimiest and downright nasty little flicks you’re ever likely to see, even in this slightly censored version brought to you by new company on the block, Shameless Screen Entertainment.

Lucio Fulci’s NEW YORK RIPPER has had a somewhat troubled history on our fair shores. Back in 1984, the film was refused a certificate by then-BBFC head honcho James Ferman and he insisted that the film print be transported out of the country under police escort. The film became even more infamous when Ferman mentioned it in an interview for SEX AND THE CENSORS–a documentary that was made for Channel Four and aired during their ‘Banned Season’ during the early nineties—where he cited NEW YORK RIPPER for being completely irresponsible. I don’t know about anyone else, but Ferman’s comments were like a seal of approval to me; I was desperate to see the film!

I finally got around to seeing NEW YORK RIPPER after meeting Tanzi. Tanzi was a cool cat to an eighteen-year-old that had only read about the banned films, but in all honesty, I wasn’t ready for seeing the film back then, as I found it really disturbing and without a doubt, the nastiest, grubbiest flick I’d ever seen.  I even told Tanzi that I had no intention of ever watching the film again…|

So, fastforward a few years and I began to re-evaluate Fulci’s films, so I thought I’d give NEW YORK RIPPER another go. Though the film had lost none of its power, I was ready to acknowledge the fact that it is an excellently crafted piece of sleaze and probably the last great, non Argento-directed giallo.

Shameless’ disc presents the film well. Although the disc isn’t anamorphically enhanced, the print preserves the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and serves the film well and is sharper and has more vivid colours, when compared to Anchor Bay’s US release from several years ago, especially during darker scenes. The sound is also well presented, though as one would expect from a film of this age, it’s a little undistinguished. The film’s trailer is included, as are trailers for six other Shameless releases.

The film has been censored in accordance to BBFC policy and although much of the grisly impact of the climactic murder is now missing, the cuts are well placed and are not jarring.

Obviously, hardcore, net-savvy fans more than likely own NEW YORK RIPPER already, but to the undiscerning viewer, this is still a very well-presented release of a notorious film. Then again, if you were always bothered by the scene in question, then this is the release for you! If Shameless can maintain the same level of quality for their future titles, I shall be very pleased.

(Paul Alaoui)