Wednesday, June 17, 2015



This Italian muscle man movie is very much like all the others. We have a hero named Maciste who is referred to in the American print as a son of Hercules in order to grab the audiences that made the Steve Reeves Hercules films popular here. The actor playing him, Kirk Morris, at left, is appropriately muscled and a little more baby-faced that the average peplum hero, and he is exceptionally good at looking pained and sweaty during his torture scenes. The plot involves a wicked queen who is sacrificing young women to the gods, with muscled hero Maciste helping to lead a revolt.

What's a little unusual about this one is that it takes place not in Italy but in the ancient city of Memphis in Egypt. Prince Iram, the rightful but exiled ruler, sees a series of omens that indicate now may be a good time to try and topple Queen Tenefi (who we know is decadent because she takes milk baths and has doves fluttering around—not to mention the human sacrifices at the Mountain of Thunder) and when Maciste helps save Antea and her villagers from being dragged off to sacrifice, Iram enlists him to head off to Memphis and stop the sacrifices. A silk merchant helps sneak Maciste and his men into the city but then betrays them. Maciste is chained to two horses to be split in half, but after a good lot of sweating and muscle-bulging, the queen lets him go and uses magic to erase his memory and make him her slave (another plotpoint used in other peplum films). There is plotting galore by various factions, but given the title, it's no spoiler to note that eventually, Maciste regains his memory, exerts his muscles a few more times—I counted at least four separate scenes of Morris sweating and straining—and triumphs against Queen Tenefi, with some help from the exploding Mountain of Thunder. Generally predictable and padded-out in places, but no worse than average.  [Streaming]

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