Revenge of Spartacus, The / La vendetta di Spartacus (1964)

4.0 out of 5

The first in Michele Lupo's unofficial gladiator trilogy is nothing short of stupendous. It's a late blooming peplum epic before the genre put down their swords and picked up six shooters. This is one of the best of the last. Roger Browne headlines as Roman legionnaire, Velerio. The followers of Spartacus have spread that the king of slaves is still alive and Valerio has orders to quell the resistance. Learning too late that his family was housing rebels, Valerio mourns their heroic, but tragic deaths. He then heads for the mountains to join the rebellion led by Arminio played with sly zest by fusto regular, Gordon Mitchell.

This being a peplum adventure, there are several plot twists among numerous well staged action scenes. All this intrigue and violent drama wouldn't be nearly as powerful if not for the strong, opulent score from Francesco De Masi. All of Lupo's peplums had musical arrangements from De Masi and this is possibly the best of their collaborations. All of Lupo's sword and sandal opuses contain comedic elements whether slight, or overbearingly so. However, he abandons them here for a far more serious approach.

The only true negative is a slightly abrupt end to one of the main villains. He was so imposing, his death appears to have been hurried to get the film in the can. Still, this is a minor quibble with Browne, Mitchell, Pazzafini, Vargas and the stunning beauty of Scilla Gabel on the screen. Followed by the slightly lesser Seven Slaves Against The World, 1964 and the comical escapism of Seven Rebel Gladiators, 1965.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics