Release Date(s)1974 (August 14, 2018)
Studio(s)Primex Italiana (Arrow Video)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: B+
During the giallo explosion of the late 1960s and early 1970s, filmmaker Massimo Dallamano made a number of sophisticated crime films that covered familiar subject matter, but did it in more of an envelope-pushing way than most, particularly when it came to stories about young, underage women having sex and the atrocities committed against them. He had already made the readily familiar What Have You Done to Solange? (aka Cosa avete fatto a Solange?), but returned to make the second in a proposed trilogy of films with What Have They Done to Your Daughters? (aka La polizia chiede aiuto). Unfortunately, this trilogy wasn’t meant to be as Dallamano tragically died in a car accident a couple of years later.
Originally released under different titles elsewhere in the world (including the U.S. as The Coed Murders), What Have They Done to Your Daughters? tells of a police commissioner (Claudio Cassinelli) and a district attorney (Giovanna Ralli) who are attempting to discover the identity of and catch the person behind the murders of various local young women. They soon determine that these young girls are part of an underground prostitution ring, which leads them down darker and more sinister paths than they originally thought. Also featuring brief appearances by Farley Granger and Marina Berti, it’s a disturbing but engaging journey into a truly corrupted world.
What Have They Done to Your Daughters? has plenty of positive aspects to it. Above all else, it is impeccably well-shot, utilizing handheld cameras effectively, even before the Steadicam was introduced, which was only a year or two later. It’s also a hybrid of giallo and police procedurals (poliziottesco, if you will), which is an odd thing to say because they so often go hand-in-hand with each other. It tends to focus more on the police procedural side of things and less on the violence, making the bloodshed all the more potent when it occurs. It’s a very frank film, not shying away from intimate details about the victims. You also won’t often find a killer from Italian cinema dressed in a leather motorcycle suit and helmet armed with a meat cleaver. Although it’s pure speculation on my part, this may have later influenced the U.S. slasher film Night School (aka Terror Eyes), which has a similar-looking killer.
Arrow Video’s Region A Blu-ray debut of the film contains a 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. This HD master was provided to them by Camera Obscura, who released the film on Blu-ray in Germany. Although I don’t have that release to compare it to, the screengrabs are fairly conclusive. It appears to be the exact same transfer with little to no visible difference. Grain levels are mostly solid throughout, even throughout the opening and closing titles, while depth and detail are tremendously potent. The color palette is also mostly strong, although there are some daytime shots that appear a bit anemic, but for the most part, the use of reds and greens stand out the most. Skin tones are also quite natural and black levels are deep and inky with excellent shadow detail. Everything appears bright and clean within a mostly stable presentation, aside from a few random moments of minor instability. Audio options include English and Italian 2.0 mono LPCM with optional English subtitles for the Italian track and English SDH subtitles for the English track. There’s no major difference between the two audio tracks other than the fact that the English track is slightly louder, but quality-wise, both are clean and clear, free of distortion and dropouts. Dialogue, though a bit loose when it comes to sync, is clear and discernible at all times. The film’s score, including its memorable opening number, also benefits from the boost in clarity.
For the supplemental materials, there’s another excellent audio commentary by author and film historian Troy Howarth, entertainingly covering an enormous amount of detail about the film and the people who made it; Masters and Slaves: Power, Corruption & Decadence in the Cinema of Massimo Dallamano, a new 20-minute video essay written and narrated by author Kat Ellinger about director Dallamano, his work, and its various facets; two new interviews: Eternal Melody, a 50-minute interview with composer Stelvio Cipriani and Dallamano’s Touch, a 22-minute interview with editor Antonio Siciliano, both covering their careers and their work with Dallamano; 5 minutes of mysteriously unused hardcore footage that may or may not have been shot for the film by Dallamano (which even the film’s editor is unsure of); a lower resolution set of English opening and closing titles; the original Italian theatrical trailer, presented in HD with English subtitles; an image gallery with 35 promotional stills; and a 24-page insert booklet with the essay What Have They Done to Society? by Michael Mackenzie and restoration details.
What Have They Done to Your Daughters? is considered the lesser of the two films that Massimo Dallamano directed with similar subject matter, but it’s no less entertaining. It contains some very suspenseful moments and lovely cinematography, but I suspect that the press briefing scenes may cause some to tune out, and they really shouldn’t. Arrow Video welcomes another fine piece of Italian cinema into the fold with a top notch presentation and entertaining extras.
- Tim Salmons