15 October 2005 | lemon_magic
"WELL, I'm sorry that YOU'RE offended by MY random murders....!"
I think there may be some misunderstandings going on here, re: the MST3K coverage of "Diabolik". Any fan of the MST series who followed the creators' commentary and blogs on the Sci-Fi channel website and via their newsletters, etc, knows that the Best Brains crew really ENJOYED "Diabolik" and saved it for their last episode as sort of a going away present for themselves. And anyone who paid attention to the way Mike and the 'Bots riffed through the movie would know that most of their comments were pretty good-natured, and mostly about the sheer silliness of the proceedings.
Certainly, "Diabolik" is head and shoulders over typical MST3K fare. Only "Marooned/"Space Travelers","Squirm", "Hercules", and the Russian Finnish trilogy come close to it in terms of actors, budget, energy, set design and general competence and ingenuity. Oh, and the black-and-white German TV staging of "Hamlet". (Even "starchy, pork-filled German Hamlet" is still "Hamlet", and it does have Maximillian Schell).
While the movie is (purposefully) lighter than cotton candy, and not meant to be taken at all seriously, it does do a great job of adapting the essence of the Italian comics anti-hero to the big screen. At a couple points, the Bava even has pencil graphics from the series integrated in stop motion into a couple scenes as a tribute to the feel and atmosphere of the "Diabolik" comics. They got the costume right, they got the hot blonde babe right, and they even had the audacity to try to pull off some of the gimmicks and plot devices typical of the series (much easier to do for an artist with a pencil and a drawing board than a stage and special effects crew!) And the whole thing is kept cooking and perking along with an incredibly insistent soundtrack that is built around catchy motifs that sink their hooks into the brain.
People don't really "act" in a film like this. Instead they invest energy inhabiting the cardboard characters who populate the film and trying to bring them to life. But Law and his hot blonde paramour do a splendid job of being magnetic and compelling (in a very clichéd, two-dimensional way, of course) and are fun to watch and they run around pulling heists, duping the law, making love atop piles of money, casually murdering everyone who gets in their way, etc. Even the supporting characters (the Inspector and the chief mob guy, recognizable as "Blofeld" from the early 007 movies) are fine and perform their thankless roles as Diabolik's dupes admirably.
It's not like anyone who ever heard of "Diabolik" didn't know what to expect. And it's not like anyone who spent more than 30 seconds watching it with an open mind wouldn't find plenty to enjoy as a harmless piece of escapist fluff. So I can't quite see the harsh reception and bad comments on the movie.
I rate it 7 out of 10, since I refuse to penalize it for dated pop culture references or the questionable morality of the source material. If I even find the 'straight' version on DVD somewhere for under $7, I might pick it up for my collection, especially if there are some background extras.