ITALIAN POP | Offscreen
During the 1960s, pop aesthetics experienced a heyday in Italian cinema. Fumetti neri (adult comic strips in the style of Diabolik) flooded the newsstands, and the influence of op art (optical art) was evident in auteur films (such as Marco Ferreri's Break-Up) and B-movies (like Mario Caiano's Eye in the Labyrinth).
Before Elio Petri was considered one of the leading figures in Italian auteur cinema (he won the Golden Palm for La classe operaia va in paradiso), he also ventured into genre films in his early days, such as science fiction in "The Tenth Victim," based on a story by Robert Sheckley. Similar to Yves Boisset's "Le Prix du danger," based on the same author, both films revolve around a manhunt against the backdrop of a dystopian society. In this film, a blonde Marcello Mastroianni takes on Ursula Andress as a ruthless murderer! Today, the film is considered a prime example of pop cinema and cinematic op art due to its sophisticated aesthetics and striking costumes.
In 1968, Mario Bava adapted Diabolik, undoubtedly the most popular Italian comic strip and a catalyst for the dizzying success of the medium during that period. Although the original strip's authors, the Giussani sisters, were not pleased with the result, the film remains a jewel of pop cinema. Only Bava's artisanal genius made it possible to bring the film to a successful conclusion despite various setbacks that plagued its production. Misfortune even pursued the production beyond the shooting period: the original recordings of Ennio Morricone's score were lost in a fire, making one of his most beautiful compositions only audible when watching the film's stunning visuals!