Goliath and the Vampires / Maciste contro il vampiro (1961)

3.5 out of 5

This Dino De Laurentiis production directed by the man who brought the world Brennus, Enemy of Rome, 1963 and Hercules Against the Moon Men, 1964 took the reigns of this fitfully entertaining Sword and Sandal adventure that marries muscleman thrills with horror movie chills. It's long been stated that Sergio Corbucci had a hand in some of the directorial chores, but this has likewise been rebutted to Corbucci merely being on set temporarily and not participating in the making of the film. Even if he had, the movie resembles Genitlomo's style far more than anything resembling Corbucci.

The plot is no less bizarre than Gentilomo's wacky Hercules Against the Moon Men, but the results are more enjoyable here and benefit from a much more credible lead. Maciste attempts to thwart the plans of the vampiric creature Kobrak, an evil being with plans to rule the world using his army of zombie slaves. Joining Maciste is Kurtik, the mysterious leader of an even more peculiar army of blue men! Together, the two heroes battle against Kobrak to free the oppressed people of Salmanak.

De Laurentiis's involvement ensures this is one of the liveliest and action packed productions of its kind. The violence level is also high such as eye piercings, captives burned at the stake, throat slashings, women thrown to sharks and another hapless victim is thrashed with a whip while climbing a pole that's surrounded by sharp spikes. Gordon Scott impresses in a few impressively staged action sequences and even battles himself during the conclusion when Kobrak turns himself into an evil version of Maciste. Italy's homegrown hero became Goliath for the US version.

A rousing, if violent matinée entertainment.

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