Danger: Diabolik

Mario Bava
John Phillip Law, Marisa Mell, Michael Piccoli, Adolfo Celi
The Setup: 
Master thief Diabolik commits outrageous crimes for the fun of it, and to please his girlfriend.

Austin Powers simply couldn't have existed without this film, an Italian production [produced by the estimable Dino De Laurentiis, who also brought us Barbarella, Amityville II: The Possession, Orca, the 1976 King Kong, and numerous other cheesy gems]. With it's swingin' 60s sets, outfits and attitude, this movie [and Barbarella] is essential viewing for those curious about the origins of Austin Powers. In fact, this movie can be seen as a sort of companion piece to Barbarella, as it shares a very similar tone and look, as well as one of the stars, John Phillip Law. Yes, ladies and gentleman, it's Pygar, here without his wings and in tight black leather.

Unlike Barbarella, which comes off as far more cheesy than its makers intended, this one has its tongue firmly in cheek from the start, and never seems to lose control. Diabolik steals whatever the biggest loot around is, seemingly for the thrill of it, and the way it seems to enhance sex with his fabulous girlfriend Eva. They enjoy having sex on a spinning round bed with 10 million dollars in cash splayed all over it. I suppose I would, too, if anyone were ever to ask. They never do. Anyway, they perpetrate a number of crimes, making Scotland Yard look like fools in the process, and that's pretty much the movie.

The sets and costumes are-there's no other word-fabulous. And what really makes this movie fun is how freely the director will just stop everything to show how cool a set is, how outrageous an outfit is, whatever. He really shows how fun it would be to be Diabolik, and Diabolik himself seems to really enjoy what he does, which makes the film enjoyable for everyone.

The DVD for this film includes a Beastie Boys video that cleverly interweaves shots from the film with the boys playing Diabolik and various others, which is all based on a sequence from the film. There's also a documentary, which I didn't watch. Amazingly, the trailer gives away the very end of the movie! It's inexplicable.

Not much more to say about it. The plot is so simple you can very clearly follow it even with the movie on silent fast-forward, but the point is not so much the story as the look, clothes, and attitude. And it's got all of those in spades.

Should you watch it: 

Yes. This one seems perfect for a party, as it will not disappoint you and your [drunk] friends.


BARBARELLA is the spiritual sister of this film, with the same 60s sets and attitude, only in space and with Jane Fonda having sex with everyone in sight.