Last night I went to "The Wright Stuff" film festival at the New Beverly Cinema just over in Hollywood. Shaun of the Dead director, Edgar Wright, has picked two weeks of his favorite movies (2 per night) and last night was a double of Flash Gordon and Danger: Diabolik. He's apparently there every night introducing the movies with special guests (I only know he was there last night). OK, this is where I put on my movie-nerd hat because I want to talk about the print we saw of Diabolik.

However, before I get too nerdy, Edgar Wright said something about Diabolik that I wanted to take issue with. He said something to the effect of it being almost a shame that Diabolik was on (one of my favorite TV shows) Mystery Science Theater 3000 because it doesn't deserve to be made fun of simply because it's so brilliant. While I agree with him that in many ways Diabolik is a brilliant film, TheWife's point was that no film is so flawless as to avoid any criticism at all and, I say more importantly, that MST3K gave new life to a whole mess of movies that had been consigned to oblivion by the fairly shallow-minded movie studios and movie-watchers. I cite Danger: Diabolik as a major story and style influence on me and I never would have seen that movie if it hadn't been featured on MST3K. The same goes for a lot of other films I feel that I'm a more skillful artist for seeing on that show. That aside, let's talk about the print!

OK, ThePete! Let's!

So, if you're like me, you have a copy of not only the aforementioned MST3K episode featuring Diabolik but also the un-quipped version. The catch is, which un-quipped version do you have?

Click to buy the VHS (shower-scene-free) version of Danger: Diabolik.
When I first started looking for the movie on home video, it had not been released to DVD yet. However, there was a VHS version. Another however was that, while in line for tickets to see Diabolik at the Egyptian a few years back, I had a conversation with an acquaintance about that VHS version. He told me to find Danger: Diabolik on Laserdisc because there's a shower scene that was cut from the VHS that is on the LD. Well, I already owned a Laserdisc player (I'm a movie-nerd, remember?) so I hunted down a copy. Apparently the VHS cut is identical to the LD cut aside from this one shower scene. Sadly, it's not a sex scene, but you do get to see the two amazingly hot leads in separate showers behind frosted glass. Still pretty hot despite no full-on nudity. But I digress.

Click to buy the version of Danger: Diabolik with the shower scene but the "better" dub.
So, while I had it on LD, and that made me happy, I was still curious why this cheesy, but ultimately really fun, movie wasn't on DVD yet. Finally, it was released and I Netflixed it, just to see whether it was the VHS cut or the LD cut (shower scene or no shower scene). To my disappointment, before I could confirm the shower scene, I realized that the audio was different. It was a different dub--not everyone was different, but two of the supporting leads were. This was a disappointment to me because the dubs from these two characters provided some of the most odd (and funny) moments in the movie. Specifically, the mobster-character's line "Is that Stud coming?" is gone from the DVD version.

The acting is better in this dub, but you lose some of the cheese-factor that the bad dub brought to the movie. It's a "better" movie with this other dub, but it's not as fun.

So, that's 3 cuts so far:

1) VHS (no shower scene)
2) LD (shower scene)
3) DVD (shower scene, but "better" dub)

Then, I saw the movie last night on the big screen at the New Beverly Cinema... and it was yet another cut!

Click to buy the above Danger: Diabolik poster.
However, I think this may just be a case of a bad print. One of the signature scenes of the movie involves a bed of cash and the two leads naked--the scene in the previous three cuts are pretty hot thanks to cinematography, plenty of skin and especially music. In last night's print the scene begins without any sound at all. You don't hear anything as the bed of cash rotates by. Then you see the two leads making out--still no music for a bit and then this strange, monotonic, low-pitched trumpet comes in over them making out. After ten or fifteen seconds, it got a little disturbing.

The music wasn't telling us how hot and sexy the scene was, it was telling us how them having sex on a bed of cash was strange and odd and just wrong in some way. Finally, you hear a disembodied woman's voice moan and then the awesome score by Ennio Morricone kicks in and everything is as it should be--sex with money and a hot S.O. is fun and happy and positive, like it should be.

So, where the heck did that creepy music come from? I don't remember it from the LD, though I can't check it because my Laserdisc player is broken right now. (Don't worry, I'll fix it--just haven't had the time.) But I really think I'd remember if it were as creepy as it was in the movie theater last night.

So, in the end, there are now four different versions of this movie (that I know of):

1) VHS
2) LD
3) DVD
4) Print with the creepy cash/sex scene that I saw at the NewBev last night.

I wish I knew more people who were into this movie who could maybe clear up some of this confusion. I did check out the Wikipedia article for Danger: Diabolik and found it sparse and un-helpful. Ah well, it's just a movie--it's a fun movie that's a blast to watch, but I can't get too worked up over it. Just curious as to which print/cut is really the "right" one if such a thing can even be defined.

Orignal From: Danger: Diabolik Self-Indulgence