Because of the marketing of this movie, a masked girl in a black or red catsuit, Satanik is often compared to Danger: Diabolik. It’s an unfair comparison because they are totally different styles of film. Satanik is in fact a variation on the Jekyll and Hyde story, and has very little to do with masked heroes or villains. Like Diabolik, there is a Satanik comic book, but even then some extreme liberties have been taken with the character. There is a lot of history to the Satanik character, more than I can list here (and I am far from an expert on this), but believe it or not, this film belongs to the same family as the Turkish Kilink fims or the Italian Kriminal films, rather than Danger: Diabolik.
The film opens with Marnie Bannister (Magda Konopka) walking the street on a dark miserable night. She hails a taxi. Inside the taxi we finally get to see her face. It is horribly disfigured, and we wonder what had happened to her. She is in a hurry and gives her instruction to the taxi driver. She is taken to a Doctor. When she enters the room, we expected him to be shocked at her appearance, but not so. That is just the way she looks. She hasn’t been beaten up or involved in an accident (not recently anyway…we are never given a reason for her disfigurement)…she has lived with her scars for quite some time now. And this doctor is not your standard medical doctor. He is in fact a research scientist and Bannister is his research assistant.
The doctor has been working on youth serum and has had a minor breakthrough. He tried his latest formula on an old decrepit dog and it had staggering effects. The dog reverted back to being a puppy. It appears that the Doctor’s research has been successful, except for one small side effect. The dog is now extremely aggressive. It has become a vicious beast.
Bannister is so impressed with the breakthrough that she immediately volunteers to be the first human guinea pig. The Doctor advises against it. Who knows how it would affect humans. He wants to do more research. This isn’t good enough for Bannister. She has been living with the disfigurement for a long time now, and cannot wait any longer.
Bannister kills the doctor and takes the formula. She begins to convulse and passes out. But when she awakes, she is no longer the ugly, disfigured hag, but a gorgeous, super-model type. Now she is a killer on the run. None-the-less, a beautiful one.
This introduces us to Inspector Trent (Julio Pena), the Scotland Yard detective who is working on the case. It doesn’t seem to matter what country Trent is in, he is given any of that jurisdiction guff. He is allowed to investigate wherever he likes? Trent is a workman like detective. He follows his investigation where it leads, but even at the end, doesn’t truly understand that this case is different; that something (almost) supernatural is happening.
Satanik is not a bad bit of Eurosleaze, but I think it could have been more. It is quite slow in parts and all supporting characters are drawn pretty thin. But then again, the enjoyment from this film comes from watching Bannister move from one problem to the next and how she resolves each of the situations. We don’t really need to dwell on her co-stars. This is where the pacing problems do come into it though. Often we can see what is going to happen, and we want the film-makers to get on with it.
On the plus side, the film has a jet-setting late sixties feel to it. There are playboys in bars, performance art, casinos, go-go dancing, and a swinging sixties soundtrack.
If you enjoy sixties cinema, you may enjoy Satanik. Others may find it a bit slow, and the violence and horror aspects of the story too tame by today’s standards.