“The beauty is a beast, in lurid yet chaste 1960’s European comic adaptation.”

Originally, Satanik was the villain in a series of Italian photonovels/comics. But in 1964, writer Max Bunker changed the sex and this 1968 movie – set in Spain, made by Italians – followed, though Satanik isn’t mentioned by name (I guess, a little like Heavy Metal). The central character here is a disfigured scientist, temporarily turned beautiful by a potion which also removes all her morals and inhibitions. The body count mounts, and to escape the cops, she takes another woman’s identity; unfortunately, her victim was a police stoolpigeon, and those she grassed up are also very keen to find her. Plus, her medication is wearing off…

The comics had a broad range of supernatural themes, featuring vampires, etc. but the only extra-real element in the film is the potion. What delights here, is a villainess totally lacking in scruples, reliant only on herself, making the film years ahead of its time in this aspect. Less appealing are some truly horrible fashions, proving the 60’s match the 70’s for wardrobe atrocities.

Still, the soundtrack grooves, and some thought went into this, even if the ending leaves much to be desired, almost as if it was tacked on to appease the censors. Konopka was obviously cast for looks, as her (kinda tame) stripteases prove – in one, a homage to another comic-book character, Diabolik, the last item removed is a balaclava – yet doesn’t disgrace herself. Neither does anyone else, save perhaps the costume designer, though you won’t mistake this for less than 30 years old.

Spooky coincidence time: we finished watching it about 11pm, and went to sleep. Woke up next morning, turned the TV on…and the first thing we saw? Konopka’s only other film of note: When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth. Does this mean anything? No, not at all. But it was kinda cool. :-)

Dir: Piero Vivarelli
Star: Magda Konopka, Julio Pain, Umberto Raho, Luigi Montini

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