The 1996 film Diabolique is an American remake of a 1955 French thriller known as Les Diabolique. The plot is about an abusive schoolmaster who pushes his wife and mistress to the point they join forces and murder him. After the murder the women struggle with feelings of remorse and desperation. These feelings are intensified when the body disappears from where it had been hidden, and it is suspected their nemesis may still be alive.
Chazz Palminteri plays the schoolmaster; Sharon Stone plays his mistress and French actress Isabelle Adjani plays his long-suffering wife. Kathy Bates costars as the police investigator. The film is directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik.
The original Les Diabolique was a major influence on Robert Bloch, the creator of Psycho, and on director Alfred Hitchcock. Both movie versions are based on a novel by the French crime writing team of Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac. The story was originally called Celle Qui N'etait Plus, also known in English as The Woman Who Was No More. Les Diabolique was an enormous success and is still considered one of the greatest thrillers ever made. The 1996 Diabolique, on the other hand, was ignored both by critics and by moviegoers and was a complete failure at the box office.
Diabolique is, above all, a study of the psychological effects of exploitation. The women are driven to commit the crime not only because of what they themselves have suffered, but because of the abuse undergone by the students in the schoolmaster's charge. However, the lies they are forced to tell in order to carry on after the murder cause nothing but mental anguish and, in effect, further exploitation.
The 1996 version of Diabolique is, not surprisingly, more graphic than its black and white predecessor and consequently received an R rating for violence and sexuality. The screenplay of the American Diabolique was coauthored by Henri Georges Clouzot, the man who directed and produced the original version.