(director: Mario Caiano; screenwriters: story by Mario Amendola, Alfonso Brescia & Albert Valentin/Mario Amendola/Alfonso Brescia/Albert Valentin; cinematographer: Pier Ludovico Pavoni; editor: Nella Nannuzzi; music: Carlo Franci; cast: Mark Forest (Maciste), Marilù Tolo (Olympia), Elisabeth Fanty (Livia), Robert Hundar (Zefatius), Peter White (Vitellius), Giuseppe Addobbati (Bishop Marcellus), Ferruccio Amendola (Dammatius), Ugo Attanasio (Caesar); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: NR; Something Weird Video; 1964-Italy/France-dubbed in English)

“Totally ridiculous Sword-and-Sandal fantasy film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Totally ridiculous Sword-and-Sandal fantasy film directed by Italian filmmaker Mario Caiano (“Erik il Vichingo”), that’s entertaining because it’s so coarse, campy and cheesy. The story and screenplay are by Mario Amendola, Alfonso Brescia & Albert Valentin. I’m glad it was dubbed, even if it made the acting appear stilted, as I doubt if the dialogue would have improved and this way I avoided having to strain myself to read subtitles.

In ancient Rome, strongman gladiator from Sparta, Maciste (Mark Forest), defeats four previous winning gladiators in the arena, fighting them all at once, and the hero-worshiping Caesar (Ugo Attanasio), a glutton, effete and a dolt, rewards him with a feast. Olympia (Marilù Tolo) has the hots for the hunky gladiator and he agrees to drop by her boudoir after the celebration. This gets the captain of the Praetorian Guard, Zefatius (Robert Hundar), into a jealous snit, as he lusts after the sexy Olympia. But she’s not lusting after power and makes it clear she only wants a good hump from her muscle man. While Maciste rides through the woods to keep his date with Olympia, he rescues a fair Christian maiden named Livia (Elisabeth Fanty) from being arrested by two Praetorian Guard soldiers because she belongs to the outlawed Christian cult. Maciste kills one soldier and severely injures the other. Arriving at Olympia’s digs, he turns down that delicious offer of a piece of ass because he fell in love with the blonde Christian girl. Olympia tells him she understands, but when he’s gone sobs and tells her lady friend that I was nice to him only because I want him to come calling again and I know that he will want me after he remembers how well I treated him. To prove his innocence, Caesar has Maciste fight a gorilla with his bare hands. No problem, Maciste knocks the animal silly to the wild cheers of the peanut gallery. Caesar generously offers to grant the victor any wish he wants and he chooses to have Livia. But even though she’s been arrested, Livia turns down her freedom preferring to be martyred. When Maciste learns that she’s to be thrown to the lions, he rips out the bars from the dungeon window and releases her along with the other Christians. The self-righteous Christians say things like they found the true God, and he’s the one God. But Maciste is not a man of words, he’s just playing it cool so he can get into Livia’s pants (which makes him OK in my book, as I dug him more than I did his stiff girlfriend and those other smug Christians). Anyway, nice guy Maciste is willing to take the Christians by boat to Iberia to escape the Roman fury, but they won’t go until he frees their holy leader, an elderly man named Bishop Marcellus, locked-up in a maximum security cell. Further excitement comes in the climax when we are left pondering the following: Will Maciste’s plan work to free the Bishop? How will Caesar react when he finds out Maciste is a turncoat? What will happen to Olympia, the proverbial whore with the heart of gold, who abetted Maciste’s schemes by giving him alibis? Who will win the expected fight to the death between Maciste and the film’s heavy Zefatius? And, I think we all can’t wait to see if Maciste and Livia will be together and live happily ever after.

This film was almost as thrilling as watching ESPN’s ‘Extreme Games’ (Why can’t we have our modern fighters fight gorillas on PPV television?).

REVIEWED ON 7/8/2008 GRADE: C  https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/