Sunday, November 05, 2006

XXXI. MACISTE CONTRO IL VAMPIRO (GOLIATH VS.THE VAMPIRES) 1961



Maciste contro il vampiro (Goliath vs.the Vampires)

Year;
1961

Director: Giacomo Gentilomo

Music; Les Baxter (American version) / Angelo Franciso Lavagnino

Country; Italy

Duration; 91 minutes

The Players;

Gordon Scott (Maciste(Goliath)) Leonora Ruffo (Giulia) Jacques Sernas (Kurtik) Gianna Maria Canale (Astra)


Alternatives;

Goliath and the Island of Vampires

Goliath and the Vampires (USA)

Maciste vs. the Vampire

The Vampires (USA)

Available; Sinister Cinema DVD-R
Original Ratio;
2:35:1
DVD Ratio; Fullscreen 16mm print edition
Colour * English Language* Dubbed*

It’s been over three months since we began the journey into peplum and like my nasty Nazis re-appraisal it’s time, I feel, we begin to loosen this theme and either change subject or go for differing themes as the celluloid teapot did.

It is with pleasure that we end on an absolute high note with Gentilomos’ exercise in peplum horror Goliath vs. the Vampires. The film is an absolute treasure trove of adventure from its action packed start to its thrilling finish.

I had always been fascinated by this film for two reasons. The lurid poster featuring some cool action sequences that genuinely features in the movie. Secondly it was executively produced by Dino de Laurentis productions.

As the company had also been responsible for two brilliant pieces of psychedelic pop-art hokum e.g. Barbarella and Diabolik, both landmarks in cult cinema; I anticipated something decent enough. I was not disappointed in the slightest.

Both Diabolik and Barbarella were ‘mature’ orientated versions that wouldn’t shy away from mild drug or sex content. Although Goliath doesn’t feature such taboos due to its vintage there are some smashing glimpses of gruel.

I noticed that instead of cutting away the camera tends to linger a bit and catches a few drops of the red stuff. Not really gratuitous but quite surprising for this type of film. Gentilomo seems to steer away from the pure fisty-cuff violence and adds a few touches of sadism as well.

Arrows in the eye, a throat slitting and a grim bit of fantasy where a ships galley, full of women are ‘bled’ into a goblet to quench the vampire masters thirst. The sequence is quite sadean as women are forced to hold out their arm whilst a slit is applied and a subsequent ‘milking’ amongst screams of protest and is also seemingly exploitational in its atmosphere.

Gentilomo fuses horror with sword and sandal successfully; it’s a shame Freda never took a leaf out of his book for his Maciste all’ inferno made a year later.

There are essences of surrealism such as in the unique race of blue people and the vampires’ army of ‘organic’ faceless humanoids. These soulless servants of the tyrant I found to be cracking inventions lifting the movie out of the norm.

Gordon Scott struts his stuff in the role of ‘Goliath’ (Maciste for purists) and out of his outings I have seen so far this appeared to be one of his very best. Scott is fortunate to be surrounded by a decent supporting cast that play their roles with such relish, especially the female villain Astra, with her complete flippant disregard for human life.

Hercules vs. the Moon Men was another of Gentilomos’ babies and although was an o.k. watch never achieved the all time highs of Goliath vs. the Vampires.

There are similarities it has to be said when comparing the two. Gentilomo seems to favour the apparitional villain, the brainwashed maiden and the favour to have one dominant primary colour, in the moon men it was green in this it is the colour blue. This gives opportunities to create fantastic hues of cobalts, aquas and navys but between the two Moon men comes out as the inferior.

Another triumph for me was added value visually where not only do we see the usual impressive locations but a Middle Eastern flavour too.

To round off we are also treated to a thunderous soundtrack by Les Baxter and Angelo Franciso Lavagnino accompanying the sturdy, well told screenplay this truly is a must have for the genre fan.

Look out also for the audacious inn sequence where a bevy of beauties circle their naval to a swinging sixties middle eastern ‘beat number’, sounding like a cross between Syd Dale and a ‘bikini’ film tune. Completely out of place in time but perfectly in keeping with feel and content.

I acquired a decent little print from Sinister Cinema. Of course I would like to see this version anamorphic, widescreen and 5.1 but despite these luxuries being absent it did not mar my enjoyment of this in anyway at all. I loved this film just as much in a lesser quality.

Whatever the reasons for this films delay I would think this would be a winner especially if marketed in the same way as Hercules in the Haunted World, Diabolik and or Barbarella.

Ploughing his field Goliath is asked for help to save a drowning boy Giro. This he does and returning on his way back to his village they both notice intense black smoke. To their horror they realise that their homes are being burned to the ground in a brutal ransacking.

Upon arrival they both notice it’s too late. The village is decimated, Goliaths mother bids him farewell off the mortal coil due to fatal sword wounds, Giro discovers both his mum and dad have been slaughtered and the female population decimated as they had been kidnapped for slavery and food for his fanged lordship.

Goliath and Giro learn from survivors that this is the work of raiders working under the diabolical commands of Kobrak the vampire.

They head for the kingdom of the Sultan Abdul, he is in fact a decent enough fellow but comes across negatively as he is so under the thumb by Kobrak; he cannot do anything but submit to his requests.

Looking after the Sultan is the villainess of the piece, the sultry Astra who is a bit of an ‘Ilsa’ to the harem keeper on the quiet.

She is also under the influence by the fiend and acts as his 'mole' resulting in a few deaths as he prepares for domination. To goliaths disbelief he finds out the captive women are to be drained of blood to fuel the vampires’ blood powered robots.

He joins forces with friendly native Kurtik and a race of blue people when he falls through the sands during a desert storm , eventually Gladiator manages to rescue Giulia, his love and after building up a bit of a legion they all decide to end Kobraks tyranny and take on the humanoids.

After facing many challenges of strength and tests of mortality our hero faces his ultimate endurance as Kobrak changes his form and Goliath faces a combat to the death with himself ……..

What a movie people!

When the vampire is revealed this is not a disappointment and sports decent effects. The featureless men also add to the hauntingly sinister milieu. You simply have to check this one out and again I have to mention that it is pitiful this isn’t available in a decent print or available in the United Kingdom.

By using Sinister Cinema (Link Hit) you will not only receive a decent watchable print but equally important you get to see a rare film in a full version (I think it is, all of the graphic snippets are intact) therefore this will never be forgotten. Highly recommended !