Total Escapism – Goliath and the Vampires (1961)

Goliath and the Vampires is just one of the names that this film has had including Maciste contro il vampiro, but no matter what you call this picture, it is still a lot of fun with everything that is packed into it.  There is a villain named Kobrak, who also just happens to be a vampire, a group of strange-looking soldiers, dancing women, slavery, battles, torture and of course Goliath, or Maciste as he is more commonly known in these films.  The movie may not be the best to fall under the peplum banner, but it is one of the better ones.

Maciste contro il vampiro21The film starts off with Goliath being away one day and some pirates raid his village and kidnap all the women, killing all the men and children in the process.  Goliath will not let that stand of course and so he follows them to find the ladies being sold into slavery, though not before all the old women have been thrown overboard to keep only the best of the best.  It is on this ship that we get our first glimpse of Kobrak, the vampire who is behind everything in this film and who wants to create an invincible army so that he may rule all that he can.  What follows is a ton of craziness and over-the-top action, and no matter what the film throws at you, you love it all and watch in rapt attention.

Maciste contro il vampiro30The film was good and bad in some respects.  Good because it never held back from being the most fantastical, outlandish movie you have ever seen.  The soldiers looked great, as did Kobrak and the special effects were actually pretty decent.  There were some really great scenes such as the opening battle where the guy gets an arrow right in the eye – which looked absolutely fake but was quite humorous all the same.  In fact, all of the battles were choreographed well and were highly entertaining, but most especially the end fight where it looks as if Goliath is battling himself.  One of the most innovative moments in the film was the point where Goliath is being tortured in the pit from a giant bell that Kobrak’s men have lowered down within it.  That would have been enough to drive any man insane if his brains had not turned to mush from all the noise first.  The dancing scene was good, though a bit long and so were some of the other parts of the film where there was no action taking place.  Now a whole movie cannot be straight action from start to finish, though some will indeed try, and so it is understandable that writers Duccio Tessari and Sergio Corbucci tried to flesh the story out, but that was perhaps the only downfall of the film.  Because there are so many wonderful things going on, when the film slows down and those things are missing, it really makes you yearn for them and to see what they are going to do next.

Sergio Corbucci would not only help write the film but would also direct and Gordon Scott would star as the hero who would endure everything thrown against him.  Watching Gordon was extremely entertaining as there are not too many film stars that command the presence that he does, especially when he is performing various acts of strength.  Also having a few beautiful women as co-stars does not hurt the picture whatsoever either.  Due to the pacing being somewhat up and down, it made for a little bit of an uneven viewing experience, but on the whole, the film was great fun.  There are very few movies to be found today that can boast having as much madness within them as this one sported and as such, it makes it a real treat to watch.

3.5 out of 5

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