Famed Italian movie producer Dino de Laurentiis died the day before yesterday, and I just saw the news and though I should watch one of the projects he was connected to. I never cared much for the Conan films, and didn’t have a copy of Barbarella handy, so I opted to watch Danger: Diabolik, one of the last films de Laurentiis produced before his move to the US, where he would produce a string of hits beginning with Serpico with Al Pacino and Death Wish with Charles Bronson, the big-budget panned 1976 version of King Kong, and all of those Conan films.
Although it is not quite as widely-know (or perhaps “notorious” is the word) as Barbarella, Danger: Diabolik is probably one of the best examples of the later European stage of de Laurentiis’ career. The producer brought together the action-packed direction of Mario Bava, the master of early Italian horror and a mod-inspired soundtrack by Ennio Morricone, and some astoundingly campy art direction by Flavio Mogherini. The fact that the title character, based on a long-running Italian comic book, was played not by a European but by American John Phillip Law hardly matters, as everything seems to have been redubbed anyway.
The characters are as two-dimensional as their comic book origins, and the plot never even comes close to being compelling, but this sure is fun to watch.