After the discovery of the mutilated body of a schoolgirl in a large waterfall-dam type-thing. Inspector Di Salvo is tasked with solving the case. Under pressure for a swift resolution due to the prestigious circles in which the victim moved, Di Salvo refuses to toe the line, and gradually uncovers evidence of a sex ring involving young, lovely schoolgirls, and further evidence that links this ring to certain pillars of the community.
There may have been six writers contributing to this film, but the end result is lacking in depth or nuance to an alarming degree. Coming across as a hodgepodge of the two previous films in the trilogy, What Have... Solange and Your Daughters, this film combines sex rings and teenage abortions with motorcycling patsies and sprinkles them over the by-now-standard schoolgirl shagging shenanigans. These shenanigans could be said to constitute the reveal to one of the film's mysteries, specifically what caused the death of Angela, the discovery of whose corpse, replete with a mysteriously mutilated vagina, kickstarts proceedings.
However, anyone who was familiar with Red Rings' canonical heritage wouldn't have considered the provenance of her injuries to be a mystery-it's a sequel to the schoolgirl sex films, so she was clearly involved in some schoolgirl sex which went wrong. Of course, you might be expecting some sort of clever double-bluff, but the longer you watch the film, the more you'll realise that this is unlikely to be the case. Interestingly, Alberto Negrin-who replaced Dallamano in the director's chair-does throw in a reference for those familiar with the film's giallo heritage, when the camera focuses on a leather glove on a character's bedside table. At this point in the film, we haven't as yet seen any leather-gloved killings, so the uninitiated (and stupid) might mistake the shot's focus to be fashion-oriented. If you're being charitable you might also say that the scene in which Fabio Testi's Di Salvo meets the teachers at Angela's exclusive boarding school is an homage to the same scene in Solange, as opposed to a lazy copy-and-paste job (there's even a teacher who arrives late, mirroring Testi's own entrance in Solange).
The other mystery the film presents is the identity (/ies) of the person (/people) going around killing anyone who seems to have knowledge of the underage sex ring.* The final revelation was presumably designed to be a huge shock, but it falls slightly flat (SPOILERS ahead). A large reason for this is that the film regularly employs the classic giallo eyeball close-up, but frames the eye in too wide a shot. This means we can clearly see the eyelash colour of the eye-owner, which mightn't be an issue if the eyelashes were a nondescript colour (anything but ginger). Alas, however, they are ginger, so that somewhat gives the game away. (They were clearly using the actual actor for the eyeball shots too, and not a body-double.)
(Still SPOILERS) The ginger-eyelash owner, Angela's little sister Emily, seems initially to be a typical cute child-who-helps-the-police, a la the two girls who help catch the killer in ...Daughters, but as the film progresses she becomes something more. What exactly that 'something' is, though, is unclear. Whatever it is, it's enough to see her taken cruisin' by the police at night to shoot the shit. And it's enough to allow her to be virtually omnipresent, observing the older girls who were her sister's friends almost non-stop. You wonder what her attendance record must have been like for her own classes.
It's likely that Dallamano saw her as a symbol of purity fighting against the corrupting forces which would soon begin targeting her, an assertion I'm basing on Di Salvo's treatment of her once she's 'unmasked' as an attempted killer; he basically ruffles her hair and tells her to behave herself in future, even though she's repeatedly tried to murder a girl. The fact that she targets one specific girl, again and again and again, renders her, for me, more of a psychotic killer with unrelenting focus, a la Michael Myers. Her killing skills haven't caught up with her mind just yet, but they will... I won't get into Dallamano's skewed view of women and sex here, because I've discussed it enough with regard to the earlier films, but suffice to say that none of the other five writers have, to my money, managed to slip another perspective into the script. (SPOILERS end.)
And the script, as I said above, is lacking in more than alternative perspectives on women. The investigative process is so prosaic that it becomes almost an avant-garde send up of police procedurals (which was very much not the intention). I'll point out at this juncture that I'm reviewing the film based on the German Eyecatcher DVD, which may well have been missing some footage, despite billing itself as being uncut. There are two main breakthroughs in the investigation, which lead to the unmasking of the motorcycling stooge, and sex ring mastermind respectively.
The first breakthrough happens offscreen, after Di Salvo barges his way into a dormitory at the school and demands that the girls start talkin'. We then cut to him arriving at a strangely-located caravan, which is apparently the weekend home of the motorcyclist who carries out the sex ring's dirty work. The second breakthrough happens because Di Salvo has uncovered-again, offscreen-some info about the shady past of another suspect, a clothes shop owner who was previously charged with producing art forgeries. After asking ex-forger about this, to a wall of impassivity, Di Salvo then sits on the info for a long time before deciding to actually dig out the file on the case (his methods for uncovering this info in the first place presumably didn't extend beyond another cop casually mentioning something to him). This file provides him with the identity of the sex ring mastermind, and the case is mostly closed,with all that remains being the ruffling of a child's hair.
This is extremely lazy plotting, and we aren't even privileged with a view of the files Di Salvo reads on his visit to the police hall of records. We are treated to a rambunctious score, but if I wanted to watch a man impassively reading with a stirring soundtrack, I'd be a rather strange individual. And, in further weak writing, once you find out the identity of the mastermind you might wonder why the file in question even exists any more.
Returning for a moment to Dallamano's favourite topic-women-the character of Di Salvo's girlfriend here is truly bizarre, even for him. We first see her through Di Salvo's eyes as he catches her shoplifting, which is apparently a common occurrence for her. She abruptly exits the film halfway through, fed up with Di Salvo running out to try and solve murders, but in her brief onscreen time she never fails to mention how she's a shoplifter. One might think she represents unrepentant criminality, or something, but she doesn't-it's just lazy characterisation. She's a shoplifter, so no need to have her do or say anything else. In fact, she may only exist at all to add to her boyf's characterisation: he doesn't just investigate murders offscreen, he also lives with a criminal!!! Wow. (Surely he doesn't need any more characterisation, though; the scene where he interrogates a suspect by taking them on a rollercoaster, and sending them on a second loop for good measure,** already marks him out as a crazy maverick.)
It may also just be an attempt at humour, something which is prevalent throughout this film in what is possibly a half-hearted nod at the comedic turn the poliziotteschi had taken in the late 70s. The humour is hit-and-miss; actually, no-it's all miss, apart from one moment where Di Salvo's partner misunderstands a question while looking at a billboard ( I won't attempt to do the joke justice here, as to attempt to do so would be to suck away what little fun exists in the film).
That's possibly a bit harsh; it's not a terrible film, just not a very good one, and certainly not as good as its canonical predecessors (for all their faults). Alberto Negrin does seem to know his way around a giallo, but is hobbled by an extremely lacking script (which is partly his fault, as he's one of The Six). You do get more than your fill of sleazy nudity, not-quite-enough murders, and absolutely no decent investigative scenes. Oh, and you do get one of the better examples of that absurd cinematic entity-the One Sided Conversation With a Killer Who's the Audience's POV (see My Dear Killer for an even better instance of this). What you don't get, sadly, is a film worth watching.
*Seasoned Dallamano fans who guessed the sex ring link straight away were presumably shifting awkwardly in their seats at this, unless they knew the difference between films and real life. Of course, given they're fans of gory murder-mysteries, they're probably all psychologically unbalanced and killers-in-waiting, eh? #satire
**Have a look at how slowly the rollercoaster pulls away for this second loop, and, thus, how much time the suspect had to hop out of the car. The actor tries to sell the moment by looking dazed and shaking his head, but the credulity odds are very much stacked against him.