Monday, January 04, 2016


In 490 B.C Greece, muscle-bound Athenian peasant Phillipides (Steve Reeves) becomes an Olympics champion and is made head of the Sacred Guard (who are referred to as custodians of Athens' liberty), but secretly Theocritus and Kreusos want to take over the Guard for their own ends. Theo sends the sexy Karis to seduce Phillipides, but he has fallen in love with Andromeda (Mylene Demongeot, pictured with Reeves), daughter of Kreusos who is already promised to Theo. Basically, Theo and his pals are plotting to give Athens up to King Darius when he leads the Persian Army in an invasion on the beaches of Marathon. But when news of the invasion reaches Phillipides, he heads off on a mission to get soldiers from their rival city of Sparta to help hold off the Persians.

Based on historical events, this plays out like an early version of the movie 300 (see also THE 300 SPARTANS, based like 300 on the Battle of Thermopylae, which occurred ten years after the Battle of Marathon). But as with those films, no one will see this for a history lesson: we just wanna see our muscleman Reeves flex and sweat and kick some bad-guy ass, and he certainly does. This is one of the bigger-budget sword-and-sandal films and it shows, with good set design and effects, and even a slightly better screenplay than normal. The plotline is clear and some of the characters feel a little more fleshed-out than you find in the average peplum film. Among the highlights: Karis getting the shit slapped out of her by Theo, and later, though mortally wounded, dragging herself off to warn Phillipides about Theo's betrayal; a well done rockslide; some surprisingly graphic underwater deaths when the Athenians plant spears in the sea floor to do damage to the Persian ships. Reeves is at his best here, even more so than in the original HERCULES. The director of record is Jacques Tourneur (CAT PEOPLE) but it was apparently finished by Mario Bava (BLACK SUNDAY, HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD). Like all these Italian productions of the time, the English dubbing is a bit off-putting, but the widescreen print available on DVD distracts the viewer from that. [DVD]

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