Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
This trash-level European crime film is reviewed herein only because of the curiosity value of
its tenuous relationship with the incomparable
Danger: Diabolik by Mario Bava. It's not
much of a film, and neither is Retromedia's DVD. Reviewed for the record, as they say.
Scarred, ugly Dr. Bannister (Magda Konopka) listens to her research partner talk
about the dangers of trying their rejuvenation serum without further testing, but she kills him
instead, imbibes the serum, and emerges a lovely young woman. The nagging side effect is evil behavior,
and she wastes no time hooking herself up with a rich but crooked businessman. When the serum wears
off at an inopportune moment, Bannister kills and robs him. Scotland yard, aided by the Madrid police,
try to figure out the mystery, while Bannister murders the wife of a crooked club owner, assumes her
identity, and skips to Geneva to retrieve the blood money the wife had collected for turning in the gang.
There she partners with the club owner's equally rich and crooked brother, and performs a striptease
in his club, the Chez Mio. That's when both the cops and the crooks catch up with her.
Forget the meaningless DVD cover art shown above with the prominent pentagram. There's nothing remotely
supernatural about this show. The woman pictured must be the DVD producer's girlfriend,
because there isn't anyone in the film remotely like her, either. This is when you know
you're looking at a quality product.
Amazon's entry for the DVD is showing the cover on the left, which would have been a much better
choice of art, even though it too exaggerates the content of the film.
The liner notes on the
back of the box repeat an entire paragraph of text, an error so egregious it might really be a
second gesture of contempt for the buyer on the part of the DVD producers. The text by Mirek
Lipinski (the unscrambled part) does explain that, before
anyone made movies of these adventures, the comic Satanik character started as a male
imitation of the crooks in Diabolik and Kriminal comic books. After a shuffle
in fumetti management, Satanik became a female character.
Made in 1968, this Satanik film appears to be a pale Italo-Spanish attempt to cash in on the
Bava hit of the year before. The beautiful Magda Konopka is made up and coiffed to resemble
Diabolik's Marisa Mell. Her wardrobe is varied but, along
with the art direction of the film, hard to judge, considering the print quality seen here.
The svelte nightcrawler in the black costume
is only seen in one strip number, as Dr. Bannister is not a cat burglar or master thief, just
a conniving female ripping off one victim after another. She's never referred to as Satanik in the
script. The main title actually reads 'Satanic' with a 'c', further adding to the head-scratching
The listless story might seem to have elements of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or at least
The Leech Woman, but it's actually a crude flip of the old Alraune concept - women
are Evil, especially beautiful & aggressive women. Dr. Bannister's 'old age' makeup is terrible
and unconvincing. Taking the crystal formula not only cures her scars and saggy skin, but gives
her a terrific body, a silky blonde hairstyle, and freshly-applied makeup.
Most of the story is spent on literal entrances and exits, travelog footage of Madrid and Geneva, and
nightclub acts - flamenco, rock'n roll. There is brief nudity, but not the surfeit of
'sleazy naked girls' promised by the DVD cover text. The direction is particularly limp, shot
mostly with telephoto lenses and zooms. There are some poorly-directed action shootouts and
predictable double crosses before we get to see the
four or five graphically interesting shots of Satanik/Bannister in her super-villain-like strip
costume. That's it. Viewers seeking Diabolik-al thrills, or much of anything interesting,
are going to be disappointed.
Retromedia's DVD of Satanik is an okay encoding of an okay transfer of a mediocre flat 16mm
print of what looks to have been a widescreen film. The cropping is so tight it's impossible to tell,
but on a theatrical screen it was probably just 1:85 flat and not anamorphic. Colors are light and
grainy, and dark scenes lack contrast; there's at least one splice that jumps ahead a few seconds
in the continuity. The score has a real main theme and some catchy Latin rhythms, but nothing that
can compete with Ennio Morricone on his worst day.
The single extra is a gallery of Satanik comic covers. Each features a sexy female,
but also has a secondary male figure in in a skin-tight skeleton costume. This presumably
makes these issues of the pre-female Satanik, but there's no explanation to verify that.
On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor,
Supplements: Comic cover gallery
Packaging: Keep case
Reviewed: April 17, 2003
DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2003 Glenn Erickson
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