Goliath and the Sins of Babylon / Maciste, l'eroe più grande del mondo (1963)

5.0 out of 5

Michele Lupo, the director of some of the liveliest Italian adventure movies, took the reigns of this musclebound mountain of mirth and mayhem. One of the biggest and best of the genre, sword and sandal was soon to come to a close, but it was examples like this that defined what made the genre so special. Mark Forest is mighty Maciste who sides up with a small group of freedom fighters plotting to overthrow the Babylonians who hold the city of Nephir in a grip of terror demanding yearly virgin sacrifices lest the city be destroyed. Meanwhile, the true heir to Nephir, princess Rezzia, is unable to assume her rightful place till she takes a husband.

This lavish production contains several sprawling set pieces including a battle at sea, a thrilling chariot race with the princess and Maciste among the participants and a suspenseful scene wherein Maciste is tied to a 'Russian roulette' style contraption while gigantic metal spears threaten to pierce his body when corresponding ropes are cut. In addition, the cast is amazing reading like the roll call of an Irwin Allen disaster movie. Western star Giuliano Gemma, peplum regular Mimmo Palmara, the gorgeous Jose Greci, Piero Lulli, Erno Crisa, playing the same character seen in Seven Rebel Gladiators, 1965, Livio Lorenzon, Nello Pazzafini and the lovable 'Little Goliath', Arnaldo Fabrizio.

While it never strives for anything more than pure matinée entertainment, this is a great introductory to Torch and Toga epics.

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