Monday, August 24, 2009


Far too often with shit like this, my OCD gets stuck on some theme and just won't let go. The fantasy movies were done, but something inside me just wanted that number to be even or something. So here I have been for the past couple weeks not watching/reviewing much of anything because I wanted to do that one goddamn fantasy review.

Well, fuck it!

I'm moving on.

If someone really wants a Hawk the Slayer or even a Beastmaster review (saw this SO many times as a kid), by all means let me know.

Until then... let's get more reviews on here! Jesus!

I wrote this review for the new and improved CINEMADIABOLIA.COM

I highly suggest you check them out if you aren't familiar already.

Original Title: Diabolik
Year: 1968
Director: Mario Bava
Writer: Angela Giussani (story), Luciana Giussani (story), Arduino Maiuri (story and screenplay - as Dino Maiuri), Adriano Baracco (story), Brian Degas (screenplay), Tudor Gates (screenplay), Mario Bava (screenplay)
Genre: Eurospy

Ever since my interest in genre films recently re-emerged, this Bava flick has been on my radar. Through my initial exploring, something about this masked man caught my eye, but I just never got around to seeing it. Maybe it's the ninja look. Maybe it's the comic book style poster. Maybe it's John Philip Law's SEXY eyebrows. Eat your heart out, Peter Gallagher!

After finally sitting down with this recently, I was oh so glad that I did.

Here's Mario Bava's highest budgeted film ever: Danger Diabolik

(cue sinister laugh)

The story follows a master criminal, Diabolik (John Philip Law), pronounced diabolic, as he attempts to steal various riches, and who seems to be doing quite well for himself if you ask me. He may steal obscene amounts of money and jewels for the thrill of it but I think the electricity bill and furnishings of one of the sweetest underground lairs of all time is surely part of it. Diabolik's main foil is inspector Ginko, who early on is given complete authority to nab the thief after an embarrassing $10-millon heist. Throw the old school mafioso Ralph Valmont into the mix and you have quite a fun little hate-triangle going on.

One thing you will notice upon viewing is that the film has a definite comic look and feel to it. The mod factor was in full effect and some of the costumes were outstanding. EYE CANDY! Until reading a bit about the film after seeing it, I did not know that this film was based on an Italian comic book called Diabolik. Bava pulls this off very, very well. The characters are exaggerated in ways with Diabolik's eyebrows and skin tight suit, Valmont's cigar, or some of the other mod-fashions that show up. And Bava was pulling nice little directorial tricks left and right that just make suckers like me oooh and ahh. The opening sequence alone with the music, wide and high/low camera angles, etc. was just thrilling and immediately pulls you into the movie. It is a somewhat straightforward story, but Bava's style is the centerpiece and what makes the film as special as it is.

Ennio Morricone's score was the other true highlight of the film. Nothing like his western scores that we all are accustomed to, this music fits the feel of the film perfectly- playful and queues characters in the film. I've mentioned the opening sequence already, but the praise bears repeating. If you don't at least crack a little grin when Diabolik's car enters the frame, and the music STRUUUMS loudly, then this film may not be for you. There are catchy tunes and just plain awesome tunes. I began the hunt for this soundtrack as soon as possible.

For a film rooted in near-camp as this one is, I felt the performances were actually quite strong despite being a one-dimensional. Law is a bit hammy, but it works for the part. Marisa Mell as Eva Kant honestly isn't great but SUPER hot so she earned her paycheck. I really liked the prime minister character for some reason. His speeches and the way he would look at the camera had me chuckling.

There is a lot crammed into this film, as Diabolik is off one heist and onto another, always egged on by his sexy lady, so the story at times could feel a little disjointed as we move from big spot to big spot. There are some masking problems when characters drive and such, and some funny special effects that are more a product of the era as opposed to bad craftmanship, but all of these are nit-picking.

This is a beautiful film to see, often funny and tongue-in-cheek, rich in color and texture, and sexy in it's feel. It's like the Adam West Batman series with a miniskirt and a martini.

I would highly recommend this film if only to experience Bava's superb style and Morricone's awesome score.

8.75 out of 10

1 comment:

Aaron said...

Good review, man. I've been meaning to check this movie out for a while now, however I've been putting off Mario Bava movies so I can do a super duper marathon of his films one day seeing as I've become a slave to my blog and all. Good stuff!