Il Marchio Di Kriminal (1967)

Country: Italy / Spain
Directors: Fernando Cerchio, Nando Cicero
Starring: Glenn Saxson, Helga Line, Andrea Bosic, Frank Oliver, Tomas Pico, Evi Rigano
Music: Manuel Parada

Il Marchio Di Kriminal is much lighter in tone than it’s predecessor, and the plot is a little more straight forward. But, it is still fine, good old fashioned entertainment.

Kriminal (Glenn Saxon) is back and operating in London, but Inspector Milton (Andrea Bosic) of Scotland Yard believes the fiend is still locked up in a prison in Istanbul. In fact, Kriminal is now working as the director of Villa Serena, which is a nursing home for old widows. The film starts with Kriminal, dressed in full skeleton kit entering through the outside window, into one of the rooms of one of the ladies in his care, Ethel Smith. Ethel awakens, sees Kriminal standing above her, and then has a heart attack and dies.

As Ethel had no kin, the life insurance is paid out to Villa Serena (and Kriminal). After the funeral Kriminal goes through Ethel’s belongings. One item is a little blue Buddha statuette. Kriminal’s gorgeous accomplice, Janet (Evi Rigano) clumsily drops the statue and it breaks open. Inside is a quarter of a map, showing the location to two stolen paintings (by Goya and Rembrandt).

Kriminal estimates the paintings to be valued in the millions of dollars, and as such it seems like a worthy project and worth his attention. But the catch is, that the other three portions of the map are hidden in three identical blue Buddha statues.

Kriminal tracks one of the statues down to an auction house, but he is too late. The hammer had just fallen and the statuette has been bought. Adding insult to injury, the winning bidder is the fiancée of Inspector Milton, and she intends to turn it over to him as a wedding gift.

Another Buddha belongs to a German art collector named Von Beck (Ugo Sasso/Hugo Arden). Kriminal dons the skeleton suit and heads to Von Beck’s home, only to find that someone has beaten him to the punch. Von Beck is lying on the floor with a knife in his belly and the Statue is gone. Naturally enough, Kriminal gets the blame for the murder – but that’s what happens when you wander around dressed as a skeleton – people just believe you’re up to no good.

After his failure to retrieve Von Beck’s Buddha, Kriminal goes after Milton’s. Disguised, Kriminal poses as a guest at Milton’s wedding and swipes the statuette from the gift table. In it’s place though, Kriminal leaves a ‘special’ gift for Milton. The gift happens to be a spring loaded gun, that fires when the gift box is opened. The shot misses, but the gift alerts Milton to the fact that Kriminal may be at large. He runs out of his wedding and after a little investigating, makes his way to Istanbul to check if the authorities really have their man.

Now that Kriminal has two pieces of the map, Janet tries a little bit of treachery. Kriminal is wise to the event, and runs Janet a nice hot bath – unfortunately, the water has an electrical charge running through it. Alone, Kriminal next follows his next clue to Madrid, and to a Flamenco dancer named Mara Gitan (Helga Liné). You probably remember, Liné was in the first Kriminal film, but here she is playing a different character.

Kriminal and Gitan agree to team up and find the forth missing piece of the map. She believes it is in Lebanon, and they both agree to take a boat trip there. Naturally, Gitan double crosses Kriminal, but he was ready for that. And as she has never actually seen Krimal’s face, her attempt isn’t too successful. It’s hard to double cross someone when you don’t know what they look like!

Saxon is great as Kriminal. He has the looks to convey the sophisticated gentleman traveller, but he also has an evil glint in his eye, maybe even a furrowed brow, which indicate that there is more to this character than we are seeing. Andrea Bosic doesn’t have quite as much to do as Milton this time around, and Helga Liné is just plain gorgeous. As with the first film, the globe trotting locations and scenery are excellent, especially in Baalbeck amongst the ancient ruins. Manuel Parada’s music is light and swingin’ and really suits the film. As I mentioned at the top, this is a lighter Kriminal, but that doesn’t mean this film should be dismissed as being inferior to it’s predecessor. If you enjoyed the first, then I am sure you will enjoy this second outing for our skeleton suited anti hero.

October is the month of the Skeleton Suit! Or Skeletons, Skulls and Bones, and in a month long celebration, The Mysterious Order of the Skeleton Suit is checking out the Skeletons in their closets.

For an up-to-date direct connection with the Minions of M.O.S.S. check out the home page, or for you youngsters, you can follow the Facebook Fan Page or the Twitter feed.

Il Marchio Di Kriminal (1967)

Kriminal (1966)

Country: Italy
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Starring: Glenn Saxson, Helga Line, Andrea Bosic, Ivano Staccioli, Esmeralda Ruspoli, Dante Posani, Franco Fantasia, Susan Baker
Music: Raymond Full, Roberto Pregadio

The character Kriminal has a rich history, which is a bit out of my depth to discuss at length. Put simply, Kriminal began in a series of adult comic books (called Fumetti) in Italy. The success of the comics lead to two Kriminal movies, made in the mid sixties and starring Glenn Saxon as the titular hero.

The film opens in London. A man is being lead to the gallows. The man is ‘Kriminal’ – an evil genius. He is to be executed for the theft of the Crown of England. Kriminal mounts the scaffold, and the noose is slipped around his neck. At the last second, before Kriminal swings, the lights go out and the rope breaks. In the confusion Kriminal escapes.

The escape had been carefully planned down to the last detail. But not by Kriminal though. It was the police that allowed Kriminal to escape. Why? Because the Crown has not been recovered. If Kriminal had died, the secret location would have died with him. Instead, the police have secretly positioned officers in cars and on foot to follow the fiend, hopefully to the regal headpiece. But as I mentioned at the top, Kriminal is an evil genius, and it does not take him long to slip through the cordon of officers, leaving Scotland Yard with egg on their face and a lot of explaining to do.

Taunting the police further, Kriminal returns the crown, letting everybody know that it is a goodwill gesture on his behalf, rather than the tactics or investigation skills of the police that have returned this priceless artifact.

Now free from the shackles of imprisonment, Kriminal can return to his old ways, and when committing a crime, this involves wearing a full body skeleton suit. It’s a pretty threatening ensemble, but you could only get away with wearing it in the sixties. No modern evil mastermind would be seen dead wearing it. When we next see Kriminal he’s in his suit and breaking into a ladies bedroom. When he flicks on the light the lady awakens, and then confronted by Kriminal, she screams. As she does, he takes off his mask. She recognises his face and stops screaming. Her name is Margie Swan and she used to be married to the man standing in front of her. And all that time she never knew she was married to an uber fiend. But that is all in the past. Margie is all set to remarry a rich man. She now works for the Tradex Diamond Company and her new love, is her bosses son. But Kriminal isn’t interested in Margie’s love life. He’s interested in Tradex’s next big shipment of diamonds from London to Istanbul.

The thing about masked fumetti characters like Kriminal or Diabolik, is while they are criminals themselves, their actions tend to take down people and crime syndicate’s that are worse. The regular criminals have no code of honour, or worse still, pretend to be upright citizens. Kriminal’s skeleton suit says to the world, ‘look out’, I am a bad person, ‘stay out of my way’. But criminals who do not wear are costume are hypocrites who want things both ways. They want there ill gotten gain, but they also want to be accepted and fit into society. That’s exactly what happens in this film. Kriminal attempts to steal some diamonds, but finds that they have already been stolen. But of course, he gets the blame for the theft, while the perpetrators get off scott free. But Kriminal is an evil doer of the highest order, so naturally he seeks retribution.

Kriminal is an interesting film. It’s fun in a glossy sixties jet-setting fashion, but there are a few ‘evil’ moments. Generally, the nasty things happen to people who deserve the atrocities, but a couple of innocents get caught along the way. It’s this subversive or slightly malevolent tone that may put a few people off this movie. But mostly it’s cartoon mayhem, with a dash of sixties glamour.

October is the month of the Skeleton Suit! Or Skeletons, Skulls and Bones, and in a month long celebration, The Mysterious Order of the Skeleton Suit is checking out the Skeletons in their closets.

For an up-to-date direct connection with the Minions of M.O.S.S. check out the home page, or for you youngsters, you can follow the Facebook Fan Page or the Twitter feed.

Kriminal (1966)

Super7even: Operation Four Play

For spy film and fumetti fans, episode three of the Super7even web series is now on line, starring Jerry Kokich as the titular Super7even, and crowd favourite Olivia Dunkley as Sandra West, ex-agent of T.H.E.M.

This episode finds our red-suited hero attempting to convince ex-agent West to ‘come in from the cold’ and rejoin T.H.E.M. However, she has other, more aggressive and lethal ideas. Operation Four Play is an enthusiastic homage to those masked super hero and spy films of the 1960s, and will bring a smile to the lips of those who grew up watching Diabolik, Argoman, and Superargo, as well as small screen shows such as The Man From UNCLE and Get Smart.

Operation Four Play is the first part of a two part episode, so stay tuned for the conclusion which is shooting now.

You can see more of Olivia on her official website: oliviadunkley.com or on her Facebook fan page.

Super7even: Operation Four Play