What Have They Done To Your Daughters Review
That Massimo Dallamano was a cinematographer is uncannily obvious when watching either of his entries in the schoolgirls trilogy that began with Solange and ended with Enigma Rosso. In the film on review there are numerous moments when the action we are shown is suddenly thrown into relief by a wonderfully constructed frame or finely shot sequence. Several examples are worth noting, at the beginning of the film, a policeman is searching the room of a dead schoolgirl and responds to a question with his head at an angle that causes his eyes to mirror the eyes of a cat in a poster on the wall behind him. At the end of a chase sequence featuring Claudio Cassinelli a meat clever is thrown at her and the angle of the blade embedded in a wall is parallel to the angle of her nose. Similarly, a sequence of parents identifying the dead body of their child is bathed in eerie blue light and uses venetian blinds to emphasise the voyeuristic nature of what we are watching.
If What Have They Done to Your Daughters is a hybrid of two exploitation genres, giallo and poliziotteschi, this should not be seen as excuse enough to treat the skill that made it flippantly. It is easy to judge the film harshly as it joyfully concentrates on sleaze, pedophilia and political corruption, and then attempts to excuse the images of nudity and gore it shows by dressing its message up in the clothes of political denunciation. The film tries to present itself as an exposé of the terrible world that corrupts minors by opening and ending with statements about children who go missing, but it is not that sincere in avoiding exploiting the very social issues it raises by treating the subject matter soberly. I quite agree with Michael's earlier review that this attempt to justify the filmic exploitation by pointing to a real world of corruption is rather lame, but the film itself is one that I think transcends this flaw by being a terrific movie.
As a hybrid, the film has to satisfy the desire for elaborate murder set-pieces of the giallo, and also provide the required elements of the Euro-crime thriller. Giallo wise, we have a maniacal killer dressed head to toe in black leather and always wearing his motorcycle helmet and carrying a meat cleaver. The killer pounces on several occasions and we are introduced to him by the sight of his handiwork as we see a chopped up torso in the morgue before we see him. When he next gets his chopper out is in the middle of a superb sequence in a hospital which features amputation, inevitable spurting blood, and a frantic car chase. Not content with his efforts, he is soon chasing Claudio Cassinelli in an underground car park and getting rid of witnesses elsewhere. So to summarise, bodies pile up (often in pieces), sin is everywhere, and the dreadful villain must be unmasked - all good solid giallo territory.
The other part of this hybrid is the car chases, the political conspiracy and the testosterone of good men in an unfair system. The cops who chase the killer are committed to rooting out conspiracy but thwarted by the politicians who hide their vices, and the perverts who need to destroy youth and innocence. The very foulness of this ring of teenage prostitutes even extends to the homes of honest men, and the cops can't help but connect blood splattered bathrooms with the hobbies of their devoted teenage daughters. Frustrated by the filth they see, with the gutter press on their backs, facing untrustworthy political masters and a killer who thinks nothing of coming after them, these cops have got it bad. All of this is very convincing stuff with energetic sleuthing and rampant moralising supported by the basics of the police procedural as the case is followed through.
With both genre bases covered so well, the film can make the best of a good cast and Dallamano's eye for an interesting scene or a clever composition. In fact the only element of the film which doesn't seem quite right to me is the score from Stelvio Cipriani which will be very reminiscent to fans of Bava's Rabid Dogs. The music is fine in the crime sequences and is darned catchy, but I am not sure it suits the thriller moments of the film as it fails to create tension. This does not really become a problem as the giallo moments are tightly paced and well shot with atmosphere coming from the silences and the screams.
As in Solange, the sheer depravity of the world on show is overwhelming, and the people to blame for this are those who have encouraged the moral laxity that results in the carnage we witness. Shockingly, this is the very people we go to for help when we are in trouble, and the people upon whom these young girls relied on to make things better. In both of his movies, Dallamano revels in very wicked worlds - in Solange the teachers couldn't be trusted as protectors of the youth, and, here, politicians and doctors are the architects of the evil that we witness as young lives are laid to waste. With this kind of treatment, the film's title becomes an accusation that the people we trust to help our children grow are actually the ones who will destroy them.
This anti-establishment edge is one joy of both of Dallamano's films and saves them from becoming reactionary and malign. Even if this angle works out as more posing rather than a substantial critique, it helps both films to remain as interesting as they still do. What Have They Done to your Daughters is an excellent piece of exploitation that will please fans of slash and stalk as much as Euro-crime buffs, but above all it is very well made.
Michael's review of the German R2 disc concluded quite rightly that that English friendly release was far superior to the previous Redemption DVD release, and I have decided to compare that transfer with this one. Shameless's new disc is a very good transfer indeed which measures up very well to the German disc with good contrast and a clean strong image in its own right. The underlying print seems to come from two sources as the opening titles seem to be of inferior quality to the rest of the film and the transfer shows very minor aliasing and combing during them. The Shameless disc is uncut and includes two moments of Italian language inserts with english subs, these occur during a walk in the market and at the very end when Silvestri swears. I have taken screenshots of both discs below for comparison. First from the Koch media disc, then the Shameless disc:
And if you think those two look very similar try these two:
In fact the only real differences come from noting that Shameless's transfer is interlaced and is uncut, I believe the German disc has very small cuts and it is progressive. The Shameless disc only has the English dub of the film with two moments of Italian dialogue but the bit rate is higher than the German disc and I thought the audio was very good indeed outside of the inserts. This is a very good job by Shameless and possibly the best A/V of any of their releases so far.
Six trailers are included along with the original theatrical trailer which is all the extras available on the disc. The menus are designed the same as the previous shameless releases with the trailer reel starting the disc unless the menu button is pressed.
This is not moral or highbrow stuff and you won't be fooled by the message that tops and tails Dallamano's movie, but you really should enjoy it. Shameless have released their best disc yet...