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Satanik (Terror Vision) Blu-ray Review

    Ian Jane

  • Satanik (Terror Vision) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Terror Vision
    Released on: May 21st, 2024.
    Director: Piero Vavarelli
    Cast: Magda Konopka, Julio Pena, Umberto Raho
    Year: 1969
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    Satanik – Movie Review:

    Only one of the series of popular European superhero/spy films produced during the 60s in Italy and France, Satanik was based on the comic book of the same name, created in 1964 by writer Max Bunker and artist Magnus, which was used as the source material for the feature film presented here. The 1969 feature film adaptation, a Spanish-Italian co-proudction, was directed by Piero Vavarelli with some second unit work by none other than Pupi Avati!

    The story revolves around Dr. Bannister (Magda Konopka in some old age makeup), an older woman whose better years are far behind her and who is quickly losing her looks to old age and some really nasty facial deformities. This includes but is not limited to a nasty birthmark that really doesn’t do her much good in the looks department. Regardless, she’s very bright and figures there’s got to be something that can be done about this.

    As such, she and her associate, Professor Greaves (Nerio Bernardi), have created a secret formula that works as an anti aging agent when tested on laboratory animals, thought it does make them unusually aggressive when administered. Of course, Bannister decides to try it out on herself so that she can be beautiful again. Greaves is none too keen on this idea, but Bannister doesn’t want to hear any of it and makes short work of him.

    She chugs back the mixture and immediately turns into a knockout brunette with a face to kill for and legs that just won’t quit! It’s quite the transformation. She also goes a bit loopy and turns to a life of crime where, starting with a man named George (Umberto Raho), she seduces gullible men and robs them of their riches. Unfortunately, the results of the formula are only temporary and she has to consume more and more of it, and as she does, she heads further into insanity... and the cops, led by Inspector Trent (Julio Peña), are starting to wonder just what exactly is going on around here.

    Comparisons to Bava’s Danger Diabolik! and the Fantomas movies are unavoidable but whereas those films were more action oriented, Satanik is a little more subdued, but it’s still a pretty fun watch even if it never hits the heights of those aforementioned classics of the weird European super-criminal fad. We get a little bit of violence, plenty of sex appeal from the film’s leading lady (when she isn’t in the old age makeup), plenty of pop art visuals and a really solid score from composer Manuel Parada that helps move things along despite some pacing issues in the middle stretch of the film.

    That said, those hoping that Konopka will be strutting about in the iconic cat suit and mask getup that is so often associated with (which, you have to admit, she looks fantastic in) should know that this only happens in one night club scene. It’s a great scene mind you, and you have to wonder if the filmmakers behind the project were hoping to make a second film (it never happened) but you are left wishing she’d have worn it more often just because it’s so visually cool looking.

    As far as the performances go, this is really Magda Konopka’s show from start to finish. The supporting cast are fun and do a decent job but Konopka is pretty magnetic and cinematographer Silvano Ippoliti really does a great job of showing off her natural good looks and accentuating her super cool screen presence.

    Satanik –Blu-ray Review:

    Terror Vision brings Satanik to Blu-ray on a Region A locked 50 GB disc framed in an AVC encoded 1080p transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen taken from a “new 2k scan of the original 35mm negative” in a transfer that, maybe not surprisingly, blows away the crummy fullframe DVD release that Retromedia put out 2003. The opening scene is a bit dark but things clear up nicely after that. Though picture quality is just a tad soft throughout, indicating that it was probably shot this way (though there could be some DNR here), we still manage to get pretty solid detail throughout and nice color reproduction as well. Skin tones look good and black levels are pretty solid. Compression artifacts are held in check and there isn’t much print damage to note here at all.

    Audio chores are handled by your choice of the original Italian audio or an English language option in 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono with optional subtitles provided in English only. The Italian track is the better of the two, it’s clean, clear and nicely balanced. The score sounds quite strong and the effects have a bit of appreciable punch behind them. The English track does have some audible hiss and sibilance in a few spots, but it’s fun to have it included here as the dubbing is enjoyably wonky at times.

    The extras on the disc kick off with a commentary track featuring Eugenio Ercolani, Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson. They cover film's fumetti origins, details on the creators of the comic series, the genre-bending elements of the movie, how the movie compares to similar films like Bava's Danger: Diabolik!, details on the cast and crew, the use of sex and violence in the movie and how watered down it is compared to the comics, where the movie borrows from the European Bond knock-offs made around the same time, the film's score, the nudity in the film, the movie's release history and how it did at the box office and lots more.

    Up next are two interviews, the first with Director Piero Vivarelli that runs thirty minutes. He talks about his theories on directing actors, how he got his start in the film industry, the benefits of shooting on location, recollections from his work in the industry, stories about different people that he's worked with over the years, stories from different film shoots, some of the actors that he worked with over the years including Magda Konopka and, towards the end, how and why he wound up adapting Satanik for the big screen.

    The second interview is with Patrizia Rosso and it runs thirty-six minutes. This piece covers her working relationship with the film's 'eclectic' director, her work as a writer, how she came to work with Piero Vivarelli in the first place, how she feels about some of the projects she's been involved with, the affect that local politics had some his work, the influence of filmmakers like Frank Capra, Vivarelli's own political leanings and what their relationship was like.

    From there, check out a visual essay from Ercolani titled Black Fumetti. This twelve minute piece provides an overview of the rise in popularity of adult oriented comics in Italy in the fifties, how these books were often shaped to offend censors and puritanical types, the different characters that were popular in these comics, the important figures that worked in the genre both on paper and on screen, how Satanik compares to the Kriminal and Diabolik stories, how these movies reflect Italy's changing landscape and other details about how all of this ties together.

    A second visual essay, Layer By Layer by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, is up next. This twelve minute piece explores the origins of Satanik as a comic book and how it made its way to the big screen, offering up details about the film's continuing appeal, important figures in the genre that worked on these comics and their film versions, how women are portrayed in these comics and their movie versions, differences between the comics and film and more.

    The disc also includes an episode Commander USA’s Groovie Movies featuring Satanik. Taken from a fullframe VHS source, this runs ninety-two minutes and features host Commander USA doing his schtick while introducing Satanik, which is double-featured with I Walk With A Zombie (which, understandably, is not included). The presentation isn't great but those who remember and appreciate Commander USA will definitely get a kick out of seeing this included here, it's a really fun extra even if it isn't necessarily the ideal way to watch the movie for the first time in terms of presentation quality. This is presented in 1080i and with Dolby Digital English audio and no subtitles.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc, as get a trailer for the movie and Terror Vision has included the film’s complete original soundtrack, accessible off of the extras menu, which is a really nice touch.

    Satanik - The Final Word:

    Satanik holds up well, it’s a fun genre mash-up and an entertaining slice of pop art weirdness. Terror Vision gives the movie a really solid release on home video for the first time ever in North America, complete with plenty of extras that cover the film’s history.

    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Satanik Blu-ray screen caps!

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    Ian Jane
    Last edited by Ian Jane; 07-02-2024, 08:22 AM.
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