Sinewy Selections 2 – The Power of Peplum Compels Me

The mighty sons of Sinewy Selections roam the blogs…I’m on a Peplum roll of late and here are the next batch of mighty men, groovy gods and delightful dancers… with a few mighty merry monsters to boot!

Now can you really go wrong when you have Pierre Brice as Zorro, the gigantic Alan Steel as Maciste and Umberto Lenzi directing? Nope, and this fun and fast paced adventure proves it. Dropping Maciste in to another bizarre setting Ala The Witches Curse, this time our big lug ends up caught in the middle of two princesses seeking a letter that will pronounce one of the queen. In awesome Betty and Veronica fashion we have the evil Brunette Malva (Moira Orfei) and the kindly yet stern when she wants to be, Isabelle (Maria Grazia Spina) manipulating our heroes as Maciste ends up on the wrong side while Zorro pops up to help the good girl. In typical Marvel Team-Up fashion the leading men clash a few times, both physically with swords and big honking logs and in a funny battle of wits that has masked drinking games and more. While the two heroes are the featured attraction, I must admit that Orfei as Malva was really distractingly fun to watch-when she reveals her master plan for Maciste is to drop him through a trap door she sure does come off like a sucker.
Luckily, I watched a fan subbed edition using a gorgeous widescreen print of the film, and there are lots of great shots using Zorro and Maciste showing off their trademark poses. Lenzi is known for his horror films of course, but I’ve always thought of him as having a lot of flair for action as his great crime films can attest. This was early in his career, but he pulls off the fisticuffs and muscular mayhem perfectly. Utterly enjoyable and a great mash up for Maciste.

The Warriors 50 pack from Mill Creek has this film as The Sons of Hercules in the Land of Darkness and includes the opening song and splits up to give us the “coming next” reel for the second half as well. I can’t answer exactly why I love this so much, but I felt like a UHF signal was bouncing off some distant star in the best way possible. And what a fun film this one is. It isn’t well made, but let me tell you, this one is never boring. Argoles (Dan Vadis) smacks up monsters, battles a bear while the dynamic duo are duking it out on a fallen tree suspended over a lava pit, has a killer score by Fracesco De Masi and my favorite Eurospy Ken Clark shows up to boot. The “Ken Klark” credit made my day…
Yes, this is the business and reminds me why a cheap Peplum can be a great one! I’m not a really big fan of Vadis in everything I see him in, but he is really good and seems mightily amused and massively large and in charge throughout.

The gods themselves get center stage in this bizarre, wonderful, kooky and utterly charming story as Vulcan (Rod Flash) and Mars (Roger Browne-another great Eurospy) just can’t get along, because they both get all puffed up over Venus (Annie Gorassini) and piss off Jupiter so much that he sends the duo earthside without powers to fight it out. This causes all kinds of trouble involving Lizard Men, an unbelievable trip to Neptune’s Grotto that sees the actors JUMPING in and out of frame to suggest some form of swimming I think, a plot to build a jumbo sized tower to defeat Pluto that barely gets off the ground and a lot of fisticuffs as well. There is nothing that is not fun here, so it gets a high recommendation-but I’ve left the best for last. Bella Cortez is back as the singing, running and gravity defying beauty that just won’t quit. You can watch the entire film for nothing but her, the treat is-the rest is totally entertaining! To quote my pal Rick, they hadn’t invented sports bras back in the Peplum days…and we are all the better for it!
Did I mention Gordon Mitchell as Pluto??? CHOMP CHOMP goes the scenery. Also, this being released in 1962 is really interesting-and while I can’t really think there is a solid connection, the Gods realm and it’s connection to earth looks stunningly similar to the presentation of Thor and Asgard in the Marvel Comics.
Now then…I present to you-all the proof you need to see that this is a must have for your Peplum Collection. Bella Cortez…so aptly named you are.

Maciste in King Solomon’s Mine sounds like a great idea, but the film is middle of the road all the way. Set in the mystical city of Zimba in Africa, the globe trotting Maciste-played by Reg Park at least-doesn’t really appear for the first half hour! An evil queen is in charge and she is a woman who just digs watching people dig for gold on her behalf. Can you dig it? I can…to a point. Because once Maciste gets rolling in the story he is enslaved with a GOLD bracelet (of course) and spends lots of time digging and lifting. And digging. And lifting.
But all is not lost, because you do have the obligatory straining and lifting and battling the horses sequences and the final reel is excellent. It may really be just pretty good, but comes as a really lively shock if you make it all the way through the film. Wandisa Guida is easy to look at, so that helps a bit.
Piero Regnoli writes and directs this less than epic adventure and tries his best to make ends meet. I was very excited to see his name as the director, because he wrote so many films and directed only a few I’m always curious to see how they are. Nothing special here, though I was really impressed by how many times spikes threaten Maciste in this film! In probably the best sequence of all, Maciste battles away from a big spike covered board, and then turns the tables (har har) and runs amok with it all over the bad guys.
Fun, but you can do better with your 90 minutes.


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