Goliath and the Vampires (1961)


a.k.a. - Maciste contro il vampiro (ITA)

Gordon Scott stars in a bizarre Peplum from Giacomo Gentilomo and Sergio Corbucci. Wild East R0 DVD

The Film

Goliath (Gordon Scott) is a simple, musclebound farmer in the Middle East. One day he discovers that his village has been raided and all of the women stolen, including his fianceÚ Giulia. He sets out to find them in the city of Salmanak where he learns that the Sultan is under the control of the evil Kobrak who uses the women's blood to live and steals men to be converted into his warriors. Teaming up with Kurtik (Jacques Sernas), a member of a mysterious group of Blue Men, Goliath sets out to destroy the evil ruler but has to face off against his horrible zombie armies first. Captured by Kobrak, he finds himself facing his opponent who has assumed his own guise...

Writers Duccio Tessari and Sergio Corbucci gave the script all of the Traditional Peplum elements - magical powers, evil rulers (with lots of henchmen) and beautiful maidens in distress - but what the writers had been smoking when they came up with this one we will never know: vampire villains with armies of zombies, blue faced medieval knights and the hero fighting himself in the dramatic finalÚ make this one of the most bizarre Pepla ever put together. Fortunately the script provides a good underlying storyline that although hardly original, provides Goliath with plenty of big fight scenes and keeps the film moving at a fair pace. The presence of a kid in the film is often a bad sign in any adventure film, but he largely stays out of the way here and there is none of the mood-killing comic relief of many other genre films - indeed there are several very grim moments as scores of Goliath's villagers are killed on the boat journey and later the army of Blue Men are massacred by the villain's henchmen.

Director Giacomo Gentilomo is given the duties behind the camera, apparently assisted on a few scenes by Sergio Corbucci. The film looks strong throughout and as a Dino De Laurentiis production it benefits from a fine budget with a few very large scale sets that look particularly impressive. Although never explicitly stated, the villain's red lit layer seems to be nothing less than hell itself and effectively recalls Mario Bava's infernal vision in Hercules and the Haunted World (1961). The fight scenes between hero and scores of henchman are a genre staple but notable here is the sheer length of the scenes - the market fight scene has three minutes of continuous and very creative action. The climactic duel between Gordon Scott and himself is rather hampered by the requirements of the scene, but is put together well with an effective body double (it does however serve to prove that Reeves was right in Romolo e Remo (1961) to request Gordon Scott play his brother, rather than taking on the dual role himself). The soundtrack is effective and avoids the temptation to move into comedy during the fight scenes, however some of the Arabic dance music seems rather modern for what seems to be an Arabian Nights era setting.

The Peplum's second biggest star, Gordon Scott, makes his first genre film after the success of Romolo e Remo. Although he had been an actor in his own right (with a series of Tarzan films in America during the 1950s), the script doesn't give him too much acting opportunity (probably written with one of the other genre stars in mind, many of whom had no acting experience at all) but he certainly gets to show off his strength and looks impressive. Lithuanian born Jacques Sernas had played Paris in Robert Wise's 1956 Helen of Troy and appeared in a number of Pepla - he gets a good role as the leader of the blue men, while Leonora Ruffo (Hercules in the Haunted World (1961)) plays Goliath's fianceÚ.

A wealth of strange and unusual ideas run through this picture, but so does a good solid (if not too original) storyline that provides everything you could want in a genre film - musclemen pulling down columns, fighting hordes of henchmen and saving beautiful women. All fans of the Traditional Peplum should check this one out and it comes recommended.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Gordon Scott - an American import who made his name in the epic Romelo e Remo (1961)
Jacques Sernas - the striking Lithuanian actor who went on to star in Il Conquistatore di Corinto (1962)
Directed by anyone interesting? Giacomo Gentilomo - Italian director who later directed Cameron Mitchell in L'Ultimo dei Vikinghi (1961)
Sergio Corbucci - one of the great Spaghetti Western directors, his work includes The Great Silence (1969)
Any gore or violence ? Some quite brutal killings (arrow in the eye, soldiers on fire) but no blood.
Any sex or nudity? None
Who is it for? One for all Peplum fans.


The DVD
Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1. Not anamorphically enhanced. Colour.
Print quality is quite low, with faded colours and a lack of detail but there is not too much print damage and the film is very watchable. There does appear to be very slight cropping at the top of the print. Certainly better than the public domain transfers of many Peplum DVDs.
Audio English mono - sounds fine.
Subtitles None
Extras This disc includes:
  • Original US trailer - the image is scratchy but colours slightly better than the main feature.
  • Picture gallery - 18 promotional posters and lobby cards from the film. As a video file with soundtrack backing.
Region Region 0 (ALL) - NTSC
Availability This available only as a double feature along with Goliath and the Barbarians.
Other regions? Not otherwise available.
Cuts? Cut status unknown. This is the American International Pictures (AIP) edit of the film which could have been altered significantly from the original Italian. Print used is English language with the AIP credit at the start.

Summary

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All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 6th February 2009.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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