Saturday, July 15, 2006

It's Kriminal!

I finally got to see a film I had only read about in websites and obscure film tomes on the dusty shelves of second hand bookstores:

KRIMINAL directed by Umberto Lenzi and based on the Italian fumetti by Max Bunker.

Kriminal is an interesting film and fumetti about a super-criminal who dishes out ruthlessness to both the police and the crooks. He evades the police at every turn, and dosn't hesitate to kill the crooks who who do the same to him. His distinguishing trademark is his yellow and black skeleton costume he wears when he's on a job.

The formula outlined above is one that has also been successful for other Italian fumetti characters like DIABOLIK and KILLING (aka SATANIK in France, KILINK in Turkey, and SADISTIK here in the USA). You will see many similarities between the characters just by looking at the pictures in this overview, and you will note that there is a great many "skeleton-motifed" characters throughout the world's mythology - including the Latino "Day of the Dead" which has influenced the whole CROW mythos set up by Jim O'Barr.

KRIMINAL is an okay movie, and is really a product of its time. The music is an absolute delight which you can get a sample of here. Jazz mixed with 60's guitar. The opening credits are based on images from the movie, but are drawn in the style of the fumetti. It sets up an interesting style for the picture which unfortunately, due to whatever production considerations there were, isn't realized in the final movie. Here are some pics to give you an idea of the story of this anti-hero.

The KRIMINAL movie is a lower budgeted version of DANGER: DIABOLIK, and deals with Kriminal's attempt to steal a horde of diamonds from a Mafioso, bed a girl who is the man's courier for the diamonds and get away with it all.

What it lacks though is Mario Bava's signature visuals to set up the world Kriminal operates in. While there is some pretty scenery and actors, there is little camera movement and intensity. Glenn Saxson turns in a journeyman performance as the criminal master-skull.

There is a sequel, MASK OF THE KRIMINAL which was shot back-to-back with this movie. Hopefully, Lenzi will have settled into the character and motif and delivered on the promise of the image (and history) of Kriminal.

In the meantime, here's clips from Kriminal's two competitors: KILLING and DIABOLIK:


Kelly J. Compeau said...

I'm listening to the music sample right now. Groovy, baby!

Chopped Nuts said...

"Master lover. Ask Eva."


Kid Sis said...

Hey, have you seen the Descent?

I really liked it until the last frame of the damn pic.

Nick Frame said...

Was it the Italian laguage version of Kriminal you saw? Just curious as I don't know of any other version available on DVD.

I reviewed both Kriminal DVD's for Cinema Nocturna:

Great blog as well, love it!

Bill Cunningham said...

Nick - I havn't seen nor heard of any english track for this one - that would be quitea find. Was this released in the US, UK or AUS?

I too lament the lack of extras. One of the great things about the Mondo Macabro discs is that they all have great extras to them. This was simply a download of the movie a friend loaned me so there were no extras at all. Distributors in N. America listen: get these movies for your release schedules. If they can do it for Diabolik, they can do it for Kriminal and Killing.

Nick Frame said...

Hey Bill,

They are Italian R2 releases by Pulp Video and can be awkward to find, but you should be able to track them down.

I'm Scottish-Italian so I speak the language, but more extras would have been nice.

Never come across an English version but subs would be great so others could enjoy these great movies. Got a copy of Diabolik in Italian as well and I actually prefer it that way but I think I'm alone on this one!