Released in 1968, the same year as Mario Bava's wonderful "Diabolik," "Satanik" is an adaptation of another masked supercriminal comic. Much as I wanted to adore "Satanik," with its super-evil and super-hot arch-villainess, the film simply doesn't measure up to others of its ilk.
Polish model Magda Konopka stars as Dr. Marnie Bannister, a disfigured old woman who is working with another scientist to develop a youth serum. The serum comes with the dubious side effect of turning whoever takes it into a cruel monster, but judging from the fact that Dr. Bannister stabs her colleague to death in order to keep the secret of the youth serum all to herself, there wasn't too slippery of a slope for her to fall down. After taking the serum and trasforming into a supervixen of appropriately Euro-groovy proportions, Dr. Bannister sets out on a life of crime. Hot on her trail are a detective from Scotland Yard and a Spanish investigator who smoke in every scene, including when they are investigating a crime scene. With cops like these pursuing the devious dame, it's no surprise that Dr. Bannister leaves a trail of theft, bodies, and general chaos in her wake. There are jewel smugglers, crooked casino owners, gangster molls, and assorted other underworld figures that Dr. Bannister encounters as she strip-teases her way around Europe.
The movie had ample opportunity to be glamorous and over-the-top, but never quite mustered the steam to go that extra mile. Truly outrageous outfits are paired with set design that is largely lackluster (an affinity for powder blue and mid-century Versailles retro-ism dominate), and although the film is set in various swanky locales across Europe including Madrid and Lake Geneva, the local flavor is ultimately unconvincing. There are moments when one can catch a glimpse of what *could have been*--a couple of scenes shot inside a flamenco nightclub are very lively, and Dr. Bannister's masked strip-tease is a hoot. While an attempt is made at energetic cinematography, the hand-held shots have a "Blair Witch" feel to them which feels out of place. The DVD transfer from Retro Media left a lot to be desired--the print quality was fair at best, and the lack of letterboxing led to hacked-off shot framing in many scenes. The performances throughout are entirely within appropriateness for a comic book adaptation, and Konopka is extremely easy on the eyes.
What's frustrating about the movie is that the ingredients for a really fun actioner are all present--capable actors, beautiful women, funky costumes, an outrageous concept, and colorful settings. The final product just doesn't gel, sadly.
Enjoy the masked strip-tease from the film:
For your still-picture pleasure, here's the Flickr still gallery.