Diabolik (John Phillip Law) is a master criminal, pulling off one spectacular robbery after another to the endless frustration of the police. Ruthless and amoral, he nonetheless deeply loves Eva (Marisa Mell), and will risk everything to protect her. As his crimes become ever more spectacular, and the government teeters on the brink of chaos, even organized crime is pressed into service in order to capture the man.
There were plenty of films of this type in the late sixties in the …ake of James Bond, but of them all (from Our Man Flint to Modesty Blaise to Fathom), this is far and away the best. Horror master Mario Bava creates a world or shrieking colours and bizarre symmetries, perfectly in keeping with the Italian comic strips that originated the character. Eye-popping, exciting and funny, and backed by a rocking Ennio Morricone score, this is psychedelic pop entertainment at its best.
Listening to the music, one would be forgiven for wishing for a stereo remix. Nonetheless, the mono is clear and gets the job done. It is a bit low in volume, except when the music kicks in, and there the levels are spot-on.
First, a caution. The disc under review seized up about 75 minutes in and became unwatchable. If this is not a flaw unique to this particular disc, than drop the technical ratings down to zero. Granting the run the benefit of the doubt, the picture looks very good. There is some minor print damage and speckling, but the colours are very strong, the grain is minior, and the image very sharp. It is also wonderful at least to see the film in widescreen, after having had to put up with spoiled compositions in the VHS release.
John Phillip Law joins Tim Lucas for the commentary, and Lucas, arguable THE world expert on Bava, is the one and only obvious choice for the job. “From Fumetti to Film” is a featurette that discusses not only the film, but its influence on other artists (and so we hear plenty from artist Stephen Bissette and Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys). The Beastie Boys’ video for “Body Movin’” (which mimics the film) is included, as well as a version with commentary by Yauch. There is also the teaser and theatrical trailer. The menu’s intro and main screen are animated and scored.
Disappointed as I am by the problems of this disc, It’s about damn time this film turned up on DVD. Bava fans rejoice!
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- “From Fumetti to Film” Featurette
- “Body Movin'” Video with Commentary
- Theatrical Trailer and Teaser