Directed by Mario Bava
Screenplay by Arduino Maiuri, Brian Degas, Tudor Gates & Mario Bava based on a story by Angela and Luciana Giussani
Diabolik is what James Bond wishes he was. It’s a submersion into a trippy, cartoony psychedelic sixties dream of Italy where master criminal Diabolik steals jewels and gold and the police can’t catch him and the mafia are afraid of him. Then he retires to an amazing underground retro-future lair and has sex with his girlfriend on a pile of cash while the bed revolves.
I am so in love with that lair though. I mean look at this beast:
(Image from this article about Danger: Diabolik and it’s very… feminine imagery, which I think is excellent reading and definitely a theme I picked up on.)
Austin Powers never got this ridiculous. I tweeted while I was watching that it felt like if you made a movie about The Joker from the 60s Adam West Batman series and he was the hero. It had all that same jazzy music and camp costumes and weird crimes. I think it was really cemented when Diabolik and Eva used ‘Exhilaration gas’ on a press conference, and carefully took ‘anti-exhilaration gas’ capsules so they wouldn’t be effected. For those curious, exhilaration gas makes people laugh a lot.
Does it make me love the people? Eh. The characters are all so shallow and stylised that it’s hard to think of them as people rather than characters. John Phillip Law and Marisa Mell are very attractive though, so I think they’re achieving what they were meant to do. I did read that this is all based on a popular Italian comic strip, so it’s really a comic book popcorn movie rather than an in depth examination on the human condition. It does well at what it’s mean to do.
Although, thinking of the strength of the relationship between Eva and Diabolik made me like them a lot more. It’s so nice to have a lead couple that just are strong and together and that’s never challenged. Plus the whole plot of the movie is pretty much him getting her a birthday present, heheh.
Bechdel test: No, sadly. There’s Mrs Clark who talks a lot to her husband and the police, Eva who talks to Diabolik and a doctor, and Rose who talks to all the criminals. There’s another prostitute who isn’t named. Sadly Rose and Eva do talk but it’s off screen, they both relate the conversation to other people. So, it’s a no but it’s almost sort of close to passing.
Diabolik: and the police chief?
Eva: I didn’t see him
Diabolik: If you didn’t see him… he’s there.
State of Mind: Slick design, slick soundtrack, slick acting. It was a lot of fun, although I got a bit bored in the middle. Would watch again, and made me miss flatting with Ellen and Blair as I think they both would have had a lot of fun watching this and expressing loud confusion at various points.