Film Review: Danger: Diabolik (1968)

Also known as: Diabolik (Italy)
Release Date: January 24th, 1968 (Italy)
Directed by: Mario Bava
Written by: Dino Maiuri, Brian Degas, Tudor Gates, Mario Bava, Angela Giussani, Luciana Giussani, Adriano Baracco
Based on: Diabolik by Angela Giussani, Luciana Giussani
Music by: Ennio Morricone
Cast: John Phillip Law, Marisa Mell, Michel Piccoli, Adolfo Celi, Terry-Thomas

Dino de Laurentiis Cinematografica, Marianne Productions, Paramount Pictures, 105 Minutes

diabolikReview:

Danger: Diabolik or just Diabolik is a movie based off of the famous Italian comic book character. I am not sure how closely the movie follows the comic but in the film, he is a master thief that elaborately steals pretty much anything of value in an effort to impress his hot girlfriend. Granted, she pulls her weight too, as she helps Diabolik with his overly complicated and crazy schemes.

The film is greatly inspired by the spy thrillers of the era. While the character is a thief instead of a spy, Danger: Diabolik borrows heavily from the style of 1960s James Bond pictures. Visually, it is greatly enhanced by its director, Mario Bava.

Bava frequently used vibrant colors and an opulent atmosphere to give his movies life. Now, Bava takes his style and really lets loose. Everything is bigger and over the top. All of which, is enhanced by magnificent cinematography and art direction.

The score by Ennio Morricone also helps enhance Diabolik‘s atmosphere. In fact, the score is great but when has Morricone ever failed to deliver? Answer: never.

The acting leaves a lot to be desired. It stars John Phillip Law as the title character. Granted, he is much better than his older self, which can be seen hamming it up in the worst way possible in 1988’s cinematic shit stain Space Mutiny. Marisa Mell, who plays Diabolik’s muse, is absolutely majestic and it was hard to concentrate on her acting chops when I found myself in some sort of mystical daze whenever she graced the screen.

Danger: Diabolik is not a good film, overall. It is a visually stunning experience but it doesn’t play nearly as good as other films by Mario Bava. Plus, a lot of it is just ridiculous. To be fair, James Bond films have always been full of completely implausible things. It is just really hard to suspend disbelief when I see party balloons lifting  20 tons of gold in a giant steel safe from the bottom of the Mediterranean.

It is also worth noting that this was the movie featured in the final episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Despite its flaws, it is much better than the typical MST3K feature.

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