Lots of stuff going on, but none of it's very interesting
Thoroughly unentertaining Arabian Nights adventure yarn, let down by a plodding derivative script and a lack of budget which fails to make any of the sets or locations realistic. The film consists of people fighting, talking, getting captured, escaping, fighting, round and round in an endless circle with little in the way of originality to distinguish it from the other Italian productions of the period. I still find it hard to understand why the Italians decided to make Ali Baba films without any magical elements or exoticism, aside from that old cliché of the "Open Sesame!" hidden door - surely the exotic locales and characters should be exploited to their full extent rather than going through the motions in what, if you changed the settings and costumes, would be another run-of-the-mill peplum yarn.
All in all it's a pretty violent film with lots of people dying violent, tortured deaths. Unfortunately the action scenes are few and far between and invariably disappoint in their sheer shoddiness, with guys hitting each other with lumps of wood with no skill. Sometimes somebody hits someone else with a sword but there's no blood. The only time this film gets kind-of exciting is in the blood-and-thunder finale. The best thing this production has to offer are some colourful costumes and a "far eastern" theme tune which is repeated over and over throughout. Rod Flash (VULCAN, SON OF JUPITER) is the musclebound meathead of a hero who wanders through the plot, Bella Cortez (GIANT OF METROPOLIS) the most watchable plot element as the voluptuous love interest who wanders around in low-cut clothes. The bad guy, as played by Furio Meniconi, isn't nearly evil enough for this kind of production.
Also thrown into the cooking pot of the plot are a friendly dwarf, tribal dances, a wicked witch who consults her crystal ball, a huge spiked pendulum torture device which knocks people into burning pits, a gang of guys in joke-shop fright masks, Ali Baba's hilarious "screams" of agony when he gets wounded, the same bloody wound being burnt closed with a knife, and some mystical mumbo jumbo but no special effects - the budget wouldn't stretch that far. There's always something going on in the film but the problem is that it just isn't very interesting. Three years later, director Emimmo Salvi returned with ALI BABA AND THE 7 SARACENS, an unconnected sequel which saw Rod Flash (apparently without his muscles), Bella Cortez, and the dwarf actor returning in a greatly improved and more entertaining production - thanks in part to Gordon Mitchell's totally over-the-top portrayal of the manic bad guy. See that one instead.
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