Maciste in the Land of the Cyclops / Maciste nella terra dei ciclopi (1961)

2.0 out of 5

Gordon Mitchell burst onto the mythological movie scene with this sluggish, if popular cult entry in the much, if unfairly maligned Sword & Sandal genre. While he became a popular figure in European cinema, Mitchell is woefully miscast as the hero. His granite faced features were best suited for villains, or anti heroic roles such as his genre defining lead role in Enzo Girolami's classic and brutal The Fury of Achllles, 1962. The sultry Chelo Alonso forgoes her usual sensual, sexually charged dance sequences to tackle the genre mainstay, the evil queen.

The plot is better than the actual movie involving a revenge on the family of Ulysses by the ancestors of the evil Circe. Queen Capys captures the young women and children of Sadok and uses them as sacrifices to Polifemo, the flesh eating cyclops. Maciste must protect the infant heir to the throne of Sadok before Capys makes him Polifemo's snack between meals.

What lets the film down are the fight scenes; they're rather lazily choreographed. Mitchell is energetic, though, it's just the stunt men he's forced to share the screen with are particularly timid. Hack director, Antonio Leonviola gives Mitchell lots of opportunities to flex his muscles so that the bosomy Alonso will swoon in his presence, thereby resulting in the flexing of her own impressive chest. The effects of the gruesome cyclops are nicely accomplished, if crudely rendered and a sequence where Maciste is the center of a tug-of-war match while standing on two thin boards above a lion pit is suitably tense.

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