Reviews | Written by Martin Unsworth 16/11/2020

DANGER: DIABOLIK (1968)

Mario Bava’s celebrated adaptation of the hit Italian comic book created by sisters Angela and Luciana Giussani has a new, feature-packed Blu-ray thanks to Australian boutique label Imprint, and it’s never looked as good.

Masked super criminal Diabolik (John Phillip Law) is running rings around the police; whatever measures they take to fool him when transporting cash, for example, are foiled. He’s also rubbing the gangland boss Valmont (Adolfo Celi) up the wrong way too as he’s getting most of the action. Hidden away in his swish subterranean hideout, he and his girl, Eva (Marisa Mell) plan their heists while the authorities and the underworld try to catch up with him.

Bava’s film - produced by Dino De Laurentiis, who was also behind the other ‘60s comic book adaptation Barbarella - is a feast for both the eyes and ears. It’s more successful in execution than the campier Jane Fonda film, utilising real locations and matt paintings rather than studio-based action. Bava’s movies are renowned for their use of colour and this is no exception as it has a sumptuous, vivid palette. It also doesn’t follow the campiness of Roger Vadim’s film or the Batman TV series that appeared a few years before. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, though, noticeably with the inclusion of Terry-Thomas as a government minister and some outrageous stunts. The film is even audacious enough to literally wink at the audience in the end, but it is generally played as straight as it can be. The only drawback is the bad dubbing, which is off-putting at first, but once the action starts, it’s soon forgotten. If the on-screen action isn’t enough to make you swoon with delight, the score by the Maestro Ennio Morricone will. The dreamy theme song Deep Down (featuring vocals from Maria Cristina Brancucci) will be in your head for days.

Extras-wise, the disc excels. As well as features ported over from previous releases, there’s a new fact-filled commentary by Bava biographer Tim Lucas and an interesting video essay from Kat Ellinger. In short, everything you’d need to accompany this glorious movie.