International man of mystery Diabolik and his sensuous lover Eva Kant pull off heist after heist, all while European cops led by Inspector Ginko and envious mobsters led by Ralph Valmont are closing in on them.
In psychedelic swinging 60s style, the dreaded thief (and killer) Diabolik wreaks havoc on a generic European country for his own financial gain and amusement. He shares an extravagant underground lair (and a giant bed of money) with his curvaceous, superficial girlfriend...who uses her awesome powers of wig-wearing to help Diabolik kill innocent people and steal billions from the government. Nonetheless, Diabolik is the "hero" of the film because he must face off against bumbling cops and revenge-seeking mafiosos.Written by
Michael "Rabbit" Hutchison <email@example.com>
This film was produced by Dino De Laurentiis (later responsible for the infamously mammoth King Kong (1976) and Hurricane (1979)), and its 3-million budget was much more than director Mario Bava was used to and enabled him to work with more money and a much more prestigious cast than he normally did. However, he remained true to his principles, relying on imagination rather than money, and brought in the film substantially under budget, at a mere $400,000. De Laurentiis was so impressed with Bava's saving him so much money that he offered Bava the opportunity to make a sequel with the leftover funds, but Bava had by then tired of working with the producer and decided to pass. See more »
The dummy Diabolik catapults off the roof is made in less amount of time than it would take anyone to just take his costume off. See more »
All right, how we doing?
The last bag.
[flicks through a small pile of white paper the size of dollar bills]
All plain paper. Hm, very clever! You know, I wonder how security would feel if they knew they were guarding waste paper instead of ten million dollars?
[puts the remaining "bills" into the bag]
Well, seems to be it.
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The Region 1/NTSC DVD features English credits and an alternate English dub while many US VHS versions retain the Italian credits and a different English dub than the DVD. Both versions feature the voices of John Phillip Law, Marisa Mell and Terry-Thomas. See more »
Watching the featurette that accompanies this DVD did help me to appreciate this movie more. Namely, that Diabolik (pronounced Dee-abolik in the Italian) is an anti-hero thief rather than a government sponsored spy and is all about 'sticking it to The Man' as befits the 1960s counterculture. Being Italian, it also contrasts with the American idea of a superhero. The Italians lost the last war, they had Mussolini and no faith in the government. This anti-hero is on the same page, whereas Superman is all in favour of the President. I suppose this is the superhero's answer to Burlesconi.
Point no 2: unlike Fleming's James Bond, Diabolik is based on a comic strip hero and many of the shots mirror that panel shape in the way they're framed: the shot of the couple talking, reflected in the rear view mirror of a car, for instance. For all that, the style is more dynamic than other comic-based films like Barbarella.
Otherwise, it's astonishing how many scenes anticipate similar ones in Bond films, from the opening helicopter car chase along the winding mountaintop road which predates that of The Spy Who Loved Me by nine years, along with other scenes that pop up in Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, A View to A Kill and GoldenEye.
Sadly Diabolik (played by John Philip Law, who was the angel in Barberella) is a humourless blank, a charisma-free zone who scarcely utters a witticism in the entire film. I think the only reason such lusty or promiscuous attitudes prevailed in the 1960s is because the likes of Sean Connery and Michael Caine put a positive spin on it.
This is a guy in superhero guise who has no alter ego - and therefore no social life. Batman has Bruce Wayne, Superman has Clark Kent. He is just Diabolik and when he retreats to his lair to bang his bird, fine, but he doesn't actually have any mates at all so it's hard to connect with him. It's like if Superman decided to not bother to save lives but just went on Viking-like pillages once in a while, holing up in the Fortress of Solitude every so often to shag his mistress and count the cash.
The anti-hero and his girl are so unlikeable and ruthless that you do feel excluded from their activities. They remind me of the charmless pair from Topaki, though the film has more to offer than that and is superior to many Bond knock-offs of the day.
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