I love when genres collide. I love when two or more genres come together and create something special and unique. This makes the viewer intrigued, keeps them guessing, leaves them on the edge of their seat, makes them want more. I love when film makers create something like this and it makes the audience want to branch out more and find more films like it. It’s all about expanding ones horizons. And the film ‘What Have They Done to Your Daughters?’ does just that. I would say that this film is a combination of Giallo and Poliziotteschi/Poliziottesco. If you are unsure of what either of these genres are I will quickly explain. Giallo is Italian Horror mixed with mystery, thriller and suspense’ so it isn’t just splatter. Giallo has a lot of elements that make it far more intense than a lot of other genres. Poliziotteschi is Italian Cop thrillers and dramas. They are quite gritty and in a lot of circumstances real seedy. If you put Giallo and Poliziotteschi in a mixing bowl of creativeness and you mix them up real good you will find yourself with tasty awesomeness and sophistication. And that awesome and sophistication does not go astray in ‘What Have They Done to Your Daughters?’
Here is the quick run-down. A teenage girl has been found dead, hanging in an apartment, and obviously it is seen as suicide. After a little more digging has been done into this investigation of the girl who was found dead, it has been revealed she was involved in an under-age prostitute ring. Pretty heavy stuff right? Now it is up to the police to uncover other girls involved in this ring before anyone else is murdered. There are a lot of twists along the way and it will keep you guessing with what they will uncover, I even felt like I was in detective mode while watching this.
I really do enjoy the opening musical score which is used throughout this film. It does come across as care free especially when you see it playing on screen where there is teenage girls laughing and being happy. But like a lot of Italian cinema I find that the score may be quite light hearted but the undertone is quite serious as well. I think it is a very simple score, and the best musical scores often are. I noticed throughout this film, that while it was light hearted, if things were about to get serious and downright REAL then the music would just explode with intensity, but so simply. That is the kind of the thing a musical score should have especially in a Giallo/Poliziotteschi crossover. Here is the opening music, have a listen so you can understand what I mean. Stelvio Cipriani did an amazing job in capturing the emotion of this film so simply.
Giovanni Ralli plays the assistant district attorney, and she is helping out on the case in trying to find out about the under-age prostitute ring. She has balls of steel, no question about it, but while she may have a lot of strength in her character she also has a softer and sensitive side, a side she doesn’t like people seeing. The case she is helping tackle is an intense and a heavy one at that, but she tries her hardest to not let it affect her. She just wants to get in there and do the hard work and get results. As beautiful as she may appear, she is just as gritty as her male counterparts. Ralli is incredibly talented and beautiful and she was perfectly cast. And it is always refreshing to see a strong female in a role where she is not naked or getting her limbs hacked off.
The stand out performance for me was from Claudio Cassinelli. He was a badass detective who really didn't care for anyone else’s rules, just his own. He is so deep into this case; he is willing to rattle a few cages. I enjoyed his performance because no matter how bleak the case looked at some points, he never gave up; he wanted to catch everyone involved in this crime, but his own way. I absolutely loved how he would not show his emotions and just demand the GOD DAMN answers that he was looking for…and he got them. I also liked the car chase he was involved in, I am a huge fan of car chases and the fact that this guy just didn't give up. Nothing gets in Cassinelli’s way when he is on screen, he was just in a league of his own and really had a strong presence. Whenever I saw him on screen, I just couldn't take my eyes off him, and him. I was constantly trying to work out what he was thinking whenever I looked into his eyes. Unfortunately Claudio Cassinelli died in a helicopter crash while filming Sergio Martino’s ‘Hands of Steel’.
The story of the under-age prostitution ring is like I previously stated a heavy issue. And this issue could have come across as incredibly seedy but in an exploitation film kind of way, and it wouldn't have the same effect. It is very seedy but the kind of seedy that makes your skin crawl. When you hear the tapes that the detectives have to listen to, it will just make you shudder in complete disgust. It is extremely full on and it made me feel very unsettling. I don’t think you need to be a woman to find this uncomfortable. If you invest the same amount of time and emotion into watching this film, I think it will affect a man just as much. When I was listening to what was on the tapes, I wanted to block my ears so much. It wasn’t so much as what is said, but how it is said, and the voice just makes my skin crawl and I felt extremely uncomfortable. It was as if I was in the same room as these victims. If a film can make you feel that level of intensity inside yourself, you know the director has done a fine job.
I really enjoyed this film because of the way they tackled such a serious subject without coming across as too damn serious that its depressing but not light hearted that you would laugh at it. This isn't light hearted at all but having said that there are moments where the film just lets you breathe, and you can take it all in, at your own pace. And that is an extremely clever way to convey such strong, dark emotion, and director Massimo Dallamano just nailed it perfectly. I think you all need to see this especially if you haven’t explored much Giallo or Poliziotteschi films, you should definitely start with this, because you will see how both genres are done and how they complement each other extremely well. And then hopefully you will branch off into discovering wonderful films, which you never thought would even exist. This is the beauty with these two genres, there is so much to play with and so much you could convey and explore that they just make any idea you have in your head possible.