First there was a movie, and then there were comic books… no, wait, it’s the other way round!
Let me tell you a story how I discovered and become a fan of this comic book antihero.
One night, while returning alone from a dance party in the middle of the night, I passed by some record store window. They were projecting a movie, so I stopped to see if I can recognize it. Some slick-burglar-cat-like guy was just getting out of the E type Jaguar and putting money in the safe. In the next scene, some pretty lady was undressing and getting a shower in a futuristic apartment. At that point I was hooked and wanted to know what that movie is, it was playing in mute, so I didn’t know what language it was, but I knew that if it it had an E type Jaguar, it must be produced after 1961, everything else was pointing just that the movie was an older one.
So, for a couple of days I was searching the Internet for all spy or crook movies between 1961 and 1970, and I found something that had similar color scheme like the take I saw in a store window.
After I found out that the main character had a Jaguar, I knew I was looking for Danger: Diabolik movie from 1968. Later on I found out that the movie was made after the famous Italian comic book Diabolic by sisters Angela and Luciana Giussani. I told Goga that I finally found the name of the movie, and she said: “Really? I have some Diabolic comic books.” And the obsession was born!
The story follows Diabolik and his beautiful partner Eva. In a way, he’s something like Robin Hood, steeling from the rich and giving to himself and Eva, killing a few people in a process, mostly bad guys. So on second thought he isn’t like Robin Hood at all, more like a financial nightmare for the rich people. If you have money or jewels watch out for Diabolic. So, he steals from the rich, from the government, from the mafia and he’s successfully getting away with it. In the movie he is portrayed like a force of the nature – when he sets his mind on the prize, nothing can stop him. I don want to give away to much of a plot but – he steels something, then he steals some more, then some people get him mad and he steals even more, destroys a financial system of some imaginary country, kills some bad people and gets revenge while accompanied with his beautiful partner in crime Eva, while driving exclusively a whole fleet of the E type Jaguars that are stationed inside some James Bond kind a lair.
It’s an Italian film, directed by Mario Bava (also called Italian Hitchcock) and dubbed on English language. You know how directors always say that if they had more money it would be a better movie and had all that stuff… Well, this guy managed to make a movie with all bits and pieces for a fragment of a low budget that he got, so he could have a head start for the sequel that unfortunately has never been made. The movie is a real eye candy for all of us retro lovers, filled with mat paintings, classic effects, beautiful ladies, and typical speed up car chases. It’s filmed like refined, more adult version of totally nutty Adam West Batman, the style of directing and visuals remind me of James Bond movies from that time, but even better.
Later on I discovered comic book series, they really help you go deeper in the world of Diabolik, his rivalry and constant battle with Inspector Ginko who is always on his tail, but fortunately for Diabolic, one step behind. And now, after few years of reading a fair amount of comic books, I realize how visually similar the movie was made, and how advanced and dynamic it was at the time, while comparing with comic book movies like Barbarella (which reminds me that the actor who plays Diabolic, John Phillip Law also stars in the Barbarella as blind half naked winged angel).
So – if you want to enjoy the masterful improvisation of special effects and beautiful mat paintings, with corny action and always funny vintage dubbing, this is the movie for you.