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DANGER: DIABOLIK (1967).

What a tremendous, kickass flick! It's a colorful, trippy comic book (by Angela and Luciana Giussani) come to life, not to mention my favorite Mario Bava movie! This has everything you could possibly ask for in a trashy, high camp caper movie -- garish colors, outrageous sets, hokey dialogue, and at it's core, a suave super-criminal named Diabolik who has a fondness for fast cars, gorgeous women, stolen cash, and making the police look like idiots. And this guy's the hero, folks!... John Philip Law (fresh off BARBARELLA) plays the lead like a larcenous James Bond, with his Euro-hunk good looks and black leather body suit making him the coolest criminal on the planet. The film kicks off with a ten million dollar heist perpetrated in broad daylight, and after that, it's off to Diabolik's secret, high-tech, underground lair, which comes complete with a selection of expensive sports cars, a swimming pool, a circular, revolving bed, and (most importantly) an alluring babe whom he makes love to while rolling in his stolen cash. Hell, in comparison it makes Adam West's Batcave look like an Avenue C tenement. But what makes Diabolik so damned groovy is that he's primarily out for kicks -- like crashing a police press conference and setting off laughing gas, bankrupting the government by stealing all their treasury gold, and being a general pain in the ass to authority figures. Though Diabolik's a ladies' man (at one point he risks his life to steal a priceless necklace, just to give it his girlfriend), he isn't some prissy wimp, because during his nasty escapades cops are routinely killed and this cocky bastard doesn't give a shit. Meanwhile, the police are utterly befuddled (so what else is new?), checking out hallucinatory hippie nightclubs and even trying to recruit a Mob Boss to help track down the super-thief. There's no serious character development -- but it's perfect that way -- because this is gaudy, Pop Art taken to its laughable limits, and every sequence has something to gawk at. There's fabulous cinematography by Antonio Rinaldi, a supporting cast that includes Michel Piccoli, Adolfo Celi and Terry Thomas, and a bevy of beautiful women who are gonna catch their death of cold in those micro-wardrobes. This Dino de Laurentiis production (which almost makes up for his '70s KING KONG) is a priceless relic from the late-'60s, as well as an all-time favorite.

© 1994 by Steven Puchalski.