Kitsch, cult and seriously cool, Danger Diabolik – out on Region 2 DVD from 13 August – is one of those 1960s weird films that remains impossible to pigeonhole.
Based on the comic book adventures written by the sister act of Angela and Luciana Giussani and directed by fellow Italian Mario Bava, Diabolik is an enduring yet under appreciated tale of glamour and heist with a healthy dose of danger thrown in for good measure.
With a superb cast and production values for the time, web site Eccentric Cinema says of the film that “in many respects one of the most successful comic book adaptations ever filmed, Diabolik shows director Mario Bava at the top of his game.
“A painter with a tremendous interest in graphic design, he clearly understood the comic book medium exceptionally well,” says Troy Howarth. “Compared to other films of its ilk — including the better known Barbarella, shot at the same time with some of the same cast and crew — it never comes across as condescending to its subject matter or stiff in its attempts to translate the art form to the cinematic medium.”
John Philip Law plays Diabolik, a dreaded murderous thief whose sole aim is to wreak as much havoc as possible on the entire government for his own pleasure and amusement. Helping himself to hefty amounts of cash and a highly prized set of emeralds and gold, Diabolik is determined to defy authority and will let nobody stand in the way of increasing his own financial gain and twisted pleasure; a thrilling premise which blurs the traditional lines of good and evil in a film.
Together with his beautiful and curvaceous girlfriend Eva, played by Marisa Mell ,the delicious duo are sexier than Batman and Robin and more ruthless than Bonnie and Clyde. As the perilous pair swing their way through the sixties in sleek white jaguars, hiding from the Mafioso and cops in their glitzy, grotto of a lair, no one can argue that they don’t dodge the law with innate panache.
Danger Diabolik has remained a cult reference point for many subsequent beacons of cool including the Beastie Boys’ 1998 video ‘Body Movin’ – included on the DVD Special Features – and is also said to have influenced Roman Coppola’s film, CQ.
The film is a pop art classic and includes deeply wicked scenes that most Mafioso flicks can only dream of and thankfully boasts an impressive line up of special features (a bare bones version of the film was considered, but this special edition has been released instead) including commentary from John Phillip Law and Tim Lucas and the accompanying documentary ‘Danger: Diabolik from Fumetti to Film’