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I don't know what possessed me to pick up this movie from the video store,
but it turned out to be an interesting, and enjoyable, flick. I think I
would have enjoyed it much more, if the video transfer hadn't been of such
This otherwise routine sword-and-sandal film is livened up the truly
villain and some excellent music. One tune in particular, which plays
a slave girl dances, wouldn't sound out of place on a Ventures album, or a
compilation of surf tunes.
The story concerns Goliath's attempt to rescue the women of his village who were kidnapped as part of a diabolical scheme by the wizard Kobrak. The villain wants to use their blood to power his army of robots. (In this movie, robots run on human blood.) In the final scene, Kobrak changes into Goliath's shape. Goliath must then do battle with himself.
This is a late night trash-o-rama joy. Its about a vampire that steals woman and Goliath who goes to get them back. This is one of those so goofy its great movies that hooks you and makes you watch all the way to then when you realize that its made no sense what so ever but which you've enjoyed more than some of the good for you films people gush over. Its got weird monsters, good fights, great pacing, decent sets and a bunch of Blue Men that make me wonder if the Blue Man Group ever saw this movie. If you're in the mood for silly fun give it a shot.
Due to the potential horror elements inherent in the title, I had been
intrigued since childhood by a one-page still from this film in a large
book about "Epics" owned by my father's showing Gordon Scott grappling
with an unseen assailant; only in hindsight do I realize he was
battling 'himself' (22 years before SUPERMAN III!) by way of some
amusingly modern wrestling tactics! Therefore, I was glad to finally
get to watch this via a faded, English-dubbed print available on a "You
Tube" channel dedicated to peplums...since, strangely enough, the film
has never been shown on Italian TV or available on VHS in my neck of
the woods! After donning Tarzan's loincloth 6 times, it was a natural
step, I suppose, for American muscleman Scott to go to Italy and
incarnate their household mythological hero Maciste (although Mark
Forrest had already done so before him) albeit ludicrously redubbed
with the Biblical moniker of Goliath for U.S. export! a role he would
officially repeat twice more later on in the decade.
Speaking of the film's title, the American one also misleadingly hyped up the number of horrific villains in it by going for the plural word "vampires" rather than the more accurate singular one of the original; in fact, the vampire attacks here are nothing more than the collection of blood from sword or claw wounds suffered by the victims of the vampire's acolytes, which is then apparently used to revive the master villain Kobrak's desiccated wax-like warriors (described as "robots with blood"!) stored in his red-lit (netherworld?) cave; disappointingly, Kobrak's true skeletal visage is only really ever seen towards the film's closing moments! Maciste starts out as a village farmer but he is soon pelting soldiers with uprooted trees and stone columns or piles of chains! The biggest laugh-out loud moments are when Maciste slaps an assailant and literally sends him flying to the roof and when he is shown standing around whirling his arms into people like one of those gladiatorial training contraptions!
Thankfully, however, the film delivers aplenty in the atmosphere department and, all in all, this is yet another satisfying work from prolific and versatile Italian director Gentilomo assisted here by future Spaghetti Western expert Corbucci. Indeed, GOLIATH AND THE VAMPIRES emerges as one of the most bizarre and entertaining peplums ever, punctuated as it is by lively action sequences (a protracted market place scuffle early on is a particular highlight) but also an atypically grim countenance (not only are there no dwarfish comic relief figures but the characters of Maciste's mother and the little brother of Maciste's fiancée end up dead! But, wait, there is more: the prerequisite Arabian-style dance routine is anachronistically accompanied by modern-day jazzy sounds and goofy crab-like creatures lurk in the villain's pit! Besides, it turns out to be surprisingly blood-thirsty for what is traditionally kiddie fare with an arrow shot at point-blank range right into a villager's eye during the initial attack, another slides off a pole and ends up impaled on spikes, Kobrak's ominous threat of torturing Maciste by the use of sound-waves is nothing more ingenious than slipping him inside a giant bell and having his men clang the hell out of it(!) and, hilariously enough, old women are thrown to the sharks off of a slave ship (so what was the point of abducting them in the first place?). Actually, with all of this going on, the film still manages to lose some momentum in the build-up to the climactic attack on Kobrak's cave!
Apart from Scott, the cast includes genre stalwarts like Gianna Maria Canale (as Astra, ostensibly The King's favorite slave but truly Kobrak's servant), Leonora Ruffo (as Maciste's girl) and Jacques Sernas (rather than playing the obligatory romantic second lead, he plays an ambiguous alchemist leading a rebel army of Blue Men)! While I could tell the female lead here was an attractive blonde. I did not associate her with the stunning brunette from THE QUEEN OF SHEBA (1952); looking over her filmography, I realize that I have already seen her in 5 other movies and have another one (her last, Fernando Di Leo's BURN, BOY, BURN released in 1969) in my unwatched pile!
From the mid 1950s' too the mid 60s' there was a Tsunami of 'Sword and
Sandal' films. In their native Italy they were referred too as
'pepla/peplum'. Heroic strongmen bestrode the land defeating Monsters,
Evil Tyrants and rescuing Damsels In Distress (D.I.D.). They went under
many names. Hercules, Maciste, Ursus, Samson, Goliath and even 'The
Son's of Hercules'. Which had a catchy tune in the intro and exit of
Most of these films had either a brief appearance at the 'Drive-In' or went directly to T.V. in the U.S.A. Production values were not the equivalent of a film like SPARTACUS (1960) nor the star power. Though occasionally a name Actor needing a quick cash fix made a appearance, like BRODERICK CRAWFORD or ORSON WELLES. Most times the lead was played either by a Italian 'Body-Builder' with a Americanized name or a American such as STEEVE REEVES, MARK FORREST or in this film GORDON SCOTT.
'Maciste contro il vampiro' (1961) made its appearance in the U.S.A. in 1964 as GOLIATH AND THE VAMPIRES or THE VAMPIRES. My Brother and I saw it on T.V. in a double feature of such movies that ran Saturday's during the Fall/Winter', circa 1966. Great Stuff! Our Hero 'Maciste' now 'Goliath' played by GORDON SCOTT was up too our expectations. As well as the Evil Villain, 'Kobrak' the Vampire. 'Goliath's' mission, save the abducted Women (D.I.D.) of his village. Restore the rightful ruler of Salmenak to the throne, 'Kurtik', JACQUES (Jack) SERNAS and rid the World of 'Kobrak' and his minions. Mission accomplished in a entertaining ninety-one (91") minutes.
These films have a certain charm and nostalgic appeal, particularly for those who grew up with them. I remember them fondly and particularly my Mother's home made Pizza we were treated too while watching for lunch. Many are a pleasant surprise like this one which is credibly done. Rewatching this film and seeing JACQUES SERNAS was in itself a surprise. Remembering him from HELEN OF TROY (1956), IMDb********Eight. The main problem with these films is obtaining quality copies. In the U.S.A. most of the DVD's come from non-source material and that is reflected in their poor condition. If you can get by that you will find many worthwhile.
This is probably the first "Peplum" movie I ever saw, so I'm pretty biased about it, but even considering that, it's very entertaining. As one reviewer on another site points out, it's a revenge story (an unusual thing for this category of film), and one that's surprisingly violent at the beginning. And also that the requisite little kid sidekick isn't squeezed edgewise into scenes, but used in a pretty clever way. Along with that, it has plenty of good "formula" things - the harem girls, a pretty good supernatural monster, a "villainess" (albeit the kind who changes sides - I prefer the "unrepentant" kind), and (as many posters have pointed out) the "Blue Man Group." Gordon Scott always fit so easily into these movies (I might be the only one on earth who thinks that "Danger : Deathray" is okay, thanks largely to him), as did the Italian actors in this one.
Most of the Italian sword and sandal epics of this era were about Maciste but the name was invariably changed to the name of a more famous legendary strongman in order to attract US audiences though I can hardly imagine that anyone interested enough to watch "GOLIATH AGAINST THE VAMPIRES" would choose not to if Maciste was billed in the title.Usually if it was either Steve Revees or Gordon Scott starring in these films at least you knew that you would be watching the best in the genre.Ex Tarzan Scott headlines this entry and it is a visually exciting and spectacular exploit made more interesting by the vampire angle.Other Scott movies of the era such as "SAMSON AND THE 7 MIRACLES OF THE WORLD" and "THE CONQUEST OF MYCENAE" (aka "HERCULES'S CHALLENGE")were equally as enjoyable.If these films were to make anything like an acceptable transition to video I feel sure they would be popular again.As it is most video copies are grainy and faded.As the versions that show up regularly on German satellite stations are generally of a pristine quality it is difficult to see why this should be the case.Someone out there should champion the cause of movies such as "GOLIATH AGAINST THE VAMPIRES";modern day audiences then could ignore the critics and discover there is much gold amongst the dross.
Introducing non-traditional elements into the standard sword-and-sandal
formula can be risky. The results often collapse into confusion and
absurdity. Here, however, the merging of horror-movie with mythic-
strongman motifs results in a "peplum" which stands a notch or two
above its competitors. There are, of course, the standard but
always-welcome virtues: a lively brawl in a town square and again in a
tavern, a hoochy-koochy dance number inside the Sultan's palace, a
beefcake-bondage scene in which our sweaty, bare-chested hero struggles
with a wooden yoke bound across his brawny shoulders and outstretched
arms, etc. Then there are the spooky, supernatural vampire elements --
not as hokey as you'd fear -- and a memorable fight which pits our hero
against none other than his clone. Thrown in for good measure is an
ear-drum torture scene carried out inside a giant bell which conjures
up memories of similar moments in MGM's "The Mask of Fu Manchu" and
Rory Calhoun's "Colossus of Rhodes." Finally, a word of approval must
be given to this movie's refusal to use the boy, Ciro, for the comic
relief usually provided by those annoying Italian midgets.
There are, not surprisingly, weaknesses. Leonora Ruffo isn't given much to do as the heroine and, as a result, seems pale, lifeless, and forgettable, especially when compared to the vibrant, dark-haired "bad girl," Gianna Maria Canale. Secondly, the role of the Sultan is so poorly developed that the political situation inside Salmanak remains needlessly muddled. What's more, not enough is done with the character played by Jacques Sernas -- somewhat surprising considering Sernas' star-power.
Assets clearly outweigh detriments, however, and towering over everything is the impressive figure of Gordon Scott, an underrated screen presence who was somehow more than just a glorious physique.
I happen to like these cheap made in Italy spectacles. When I was I kid growing up in the sixties they were constantly on TV. So the appeal of these films to me is primarily nostalgia. However, I must admit most these films, in fact just about all these films are pretty bad. These films were the "kung fu" cheapies of there day. No I would never say that this film is good, but as far these films go, this one is not bad.At least its got a rather bizarre plot with its evil vampire bent on enslaving man kind. The bluemen are also kind of strange. The film is well paced and there is lots of action. Many of these spear and sandal epics are talky and static. Also from watching this film one can at least see that Gorden Scott din't get to fat to play Tarzan!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This peplum adventure has much to recommend it. Although occasionally
veering into cheesy and trite territory, for the main part it's a
tightly-plotted, fast-moving story with interesting characters, great
villains, and lots of intrigue. The special effects are not
particularly elaborate (red smoke is used to signal the entrance of the
vampire) but used strikingly and to good effect. Things kick off with
one of those amusing interludes designed to show just how strong and
heroic our heroes are - here, Maciste jumps into the sea from a cliff
to rescue a drowning child.
The plot quickly sets things in motion, with exciting scenes of a village being pillaged and burnt to the ground. From then on it's one exciting situation after the next, as Maciste chases the pirates and finds an unknown opponent pulling strings behind the scenes. For the first half, the action is mainly court intrigue, with Maciste getting thrown into prison and proving his might by literally ripping the place apart with his bare hands. After a number of minor characters have been murdered, Maciste finds himself wandering in the desert with his beloved - that is, until a sudden sandstorm drives them into an underground cavern and they meet a race of blue-skinned men. Then the fun really begins! The blue-skinned soldiers turn out to be good blokes, so Maciste goes with them to the vampire's stronghold in the mountains in search of a vital ingredient for a potion. This potion has the ability to restore the faces of the zombified slaves, which is lucky considering that Maciste's girlfriend soon gets zombified too! In short, there's a massacre in the forest, Maciste is captured and taken to what looks like Hell; he escapes and then is followed by the vampire which takes the form of... Maciste! The scene is set for a final battle where we see the unique sight of Gordon Scott fighting...himself! This is well handled actually and a clever moment, done long before split-screen technology - here, clever editing makes us believe the two actors are one and the same.
It's clear from the start that this ISN'T a kiddie film... there are some moments of very strong horror involved (the zombie corpses, the darkly-lit forest massacre). Things get quite gory considering the time this was made as well, with arrows being shot into eyes and people speared to death. My favourite scene has to be the "pole torture" moment where an unfortunate prisoner is made to climb up a greased pole while being whipped - suffice to say he loses his grip and slides onto some nasty-looking spikes below, leaving him a bloody mess! Gordon Scott, who previously essayed the role of Tarzan in a series of films in the late '50s, is very charismatic as Maciste and makes a good, solid hero. He's also very athletic in some scenes and you can believe the heroic acts he pulls off. It makes a change to have a muscular star actually acting, too. There are two female leads - the good one, and the bad. The good one is all sweetness and innocence, therefore rather boring; the villainess is quite hissable. The rest of the actors are all fine and good use is made of some exotic-looking scenery and costumes - I especially liked the kingdom of blue-skinned men! The action comes thick and fast and this film has one of the best prolonged sequences I've ever witnessed : Maciste fights off about a hundred guards and soldiers during a massive bust-up in a town centre, where he leaps off buildings, demolishes shacks, and uses giant poles to smack his enemies in the gob. So, if you're looking for a film which has women in chains; a strongman demolishing rooms and buildings; brief gore, torture by bell ringing; black-skinned pirates; and lots, lots more, then this is it! A marvellous classic, to be enjoyed time and again.
1961's "Goliath and the Vampires" marked the transitional period when Gordon Scott left the Tarzan series (six films) for the Italian 'peplum' series, which began with the 1957 "Hercules," featuring Steve Reeves in the title role. The connection is made even clearer by the sultry presence of "Hercules" actress Gianna Maria Canale, here cast as the evil one's consort, as well as an uncredited appearance from Reeves himself, for the bravura finale pitting one Goliath against another. Gianna has quite an edge over Leonora Ruffo, just as lifeless in similar hapless heroine mode in Mario Bava's "Hercules in the Haunted World," which followed this release in Italy by three months, boasting a villain essayed by Christopher Lee. While not as fanciful as the masterful Bava's take, this remains one of the finest examples of the muscleman entries, the barrel chested Scott already a veteran actor capable of greater emotion than most, and an excellent man of action performing his own stunts (called 'Maciste' in the original Italian version). The opening raid on Goliath's village features an arrow through the eye, and the women kidnapped to supply blood for a fiendish creature known as Kobrak, the sole 'vampire' on display, more a hideous sorcerer who appears transparent at will, at other times corporeal when slashing its victims' throats. In fact, there are no guarantees for any of the good guys save Goliath, and no obvious comic relief (unlike one painful character in Bava's feature), making for a stronger dramatic take filled with plentiful action. Pittsburgh's Chiller Theater aired this title on three occasions from 1968-73 (simply titled "The Vampires"), coupled with Larry Buchanan's "Curse of the Swamp Creature" (twice!) and the Japanese Gamera entry "Destroy All Planets," offering up other peplums like Gordon Mitchell's "The Giant of Metropolis" and John Drew Barrymore's "War of the Zombies."
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