Two years after he directed the excellent giallo What Have You Done to Solange?, Massimo Dallamano helmed this giallo/poliziotteschi hybrid. It has some interesting moments but definitely feels like a step down in quality. It contains many of characteristics of a giallo - gruesome murders by a black clad; knife-wielding (or in this case, butcher’s-cleaver-wielding) killer; odd, off-kilter camera angles; a unique score; and a bold use of color - but in many ways the plot is closer to a poliziotteschi. It spends most of its run time following the police, detailing their procedures as they try to solve the crimes.
A naked, 15-year-old girl is found hanging from a noose in an attic loft. Initially, the police write it up as a suicide but when Assistant District Attorney Vittoria Stori (Giovanna Ralli) notices the girl in some surveillance footage of a street demonstration (one of several moments Dallamano leans the film toward the political) the previous day, she thinks it may have been murder. Commissioner Silvestri (Claudio Cassinelli) then takes the case. Noticing a peeping tom across the way snapping photos of them inside the attic loft, Silvestri arrests the man and finds that he not only took photos of the girl once dead but while she was alive having a tryst with a young man. They find this boy but his air-tight alibi shuts yet another door in the investigation.
A tip leads them to a high-end brothel where they find a bathroom soaked in blood but without a corpse. The body eventually turns up, chopped into pieces, inside the trunk of an abandoned car. Lead after blood-soaked lead eventually leads the police to a series of tapes which expose an underage prostitution ring that ultimately implicates some high-ranking people in the city. Meanwhile, a black-leather-clad, motor-bike-helmet-wearing, butcher’s-cleaver-wielding psycho is stalking everyone who might know something about the sex ring and hacking them to bits. He gives Ms. Stori a run for her money in a darkly lit parking garage before giving her driver a blade to the head.
As one might suspect from their similar titles What Have They Done To Your Daughters? has loose connections to What Have They Done To Solange? which make up two parts to Dallamano’s “schoolgirls in peril” trilogy (the director died in a car accident before he could make the third one - The Red Rings of Fear - but it was eventually made by Alberto Negrin). As noted, this one leans heavily into the police procedural side of things. We follow the investigation closely as it wanders down a myriad of complicated paths trying to get to the bottom of things. It doesn’t always make the most sense, but where it falters in logical progressions it makes up for things with a some of nice action set pieces.There is a really well-done car chase through the streets ending in a series of tunnels and a near crash with a train. The aforementioned attack on Stori is quite thrilling.
Dallamono was a renowned cinematographer as well as director and the film is filled with some really interesting compositions as well as the genre’s trademark angular photography. It's too bad none of this is able to rise above an over-complicated plot and a salaciousness that overrides the film's desire to frown upon the exploitive nature of the genre. There is a frankness to the way the film treats these unsettling crimes and yet it is not above lingering on the nude bodies of teenagers and leering at some of its more degrading aspects.
Camera Obscura released this film on Blu-ray for the German market in 2016 and Arrow Video used their transfer. It looks quite good. I didn’t notice any signs of debris or wear and tear. Details are convincing, colors are bright, and blacks stark. Audio likewise is very good. It comes with both Italian and English language tracks and as with so many other Italian films from this era, both were dubbed in post production. The really quite enjoyable score from Stelvio Ciprani comes in loud and clear.
Extras include a pretty rollicking, but informative commentary from Troy Howarth, an video essay on the films of Dallamano, a newish (they were filmed in 2016) interview with the composer and the editor, and the usual trailers and image gallery. Quite unusual, it comes with some hardcore pornographic footage Dellamano shot but never included in any version of the film. It also comes with a nice full color booklet with an essay on the film.
What Have They Done With Your Daughters? isn’t quite the masterpiece of giallo that What Have You Done With Solange? is, its a bit too straight forward for that, but it is a rather thrilling police procedural. Arrow Video’s presentation is, as usual, quite stellar.