Seven Rebel Gladiators / Sette contro tutti (1965)

3.5 out of 5

Unheralded Italian action director, Michele Lupo concludes his fitfully entertaining gladiator trilogy with this enormously goofy peplum that is quite a good deal of fun. With a gaggle of late blooming stars-to-be and virtually two Sword & Sandal epics for the price of one, this comedic action adventure has it all. The energetic Roger Browne returns as Marco Aulo, a character he played in the previous Seven Slaves Against The World, 1964. Erno Crisa encores as Morakeb, the lycanthropic villain he played in Goliath and the Sins of Babylon , 1963. Here, he controls 'The Mole People', last seen in the tepid Maciste, l'uomo piu forte del mondo. The gorgeous Jose Greci is the damsel in distress. The plot itself is pure Saturday matinee escapism.

The ruthless Roman tribune, Vadio, joins forces with the evil Morakeb to take over the throne of Aristea, usurping King Krontal and stealing away his lovely daughter in the process. Meanwhile, Marco Aulo, now a Roman centurion, comes to Aristea to learn where his legions war funds have gone. Vadio has him framed for treason and is thrown into the arena to fight a group of six formidable gladiators. During the fights, Marco refuses to kill those he defeats until finally, he himself loses after exhaustion takes its toll. Admiring this man, the six warriors join him and together they escape Vadio's clutches and plot to free the kingdom from the two conspiring killers.

It might be the lesser of the three films, but this concluding chapter is easily the most fun and it shows onscreen as seemingly everyone is having a grand time in the near constant and well staged battle sequences. The balsa wood maker had his work cut out for him on this one. The playful nature shines through as our heroes don disguises on three occasions to show up the bad guys. This is also the ultimate in midget mayhem as that frivolous little guy, Arnaldo Fabrizio gets lots to do here. Francesco De Masi's score, especially the main theme, will likely stick in your head for a while after the movie is over and is just as action oriented as the film itself.

Quite possibly the best peplum during the genres last breath.

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