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1968 / b&w / 1:33 flat pan-scan / 82 min. / Satanic / Street Date February 25, 2003 / 14.95
Starring Magda Konopka, Julio Peña, Armando Calvo, Umberto Raho, Nerio Bernardi, Mimma Ippoliti, Luigi Montini, Mirella Pamphili
Cinematography Silvano Ippoliti
Original Music Manuel Parada
Written and Produced by Eduardo Manzanos Brochero
Directed by Piero Vivarelli

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 quotient.

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, Satanik rates:
Movie: Poor
Video: fair
Sound: fair
Supplements: Comic cover gallery
Packaging: Keep case
Reviewed: April 17, 2003

DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2007 Glenn Erickson

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