The Peplum genre — aka Italian muscleman flicks a la HERCULES (1958) — churned out seemingly hundreds of bargain basement epics featuring the manly adventures of oiled-up ancient heroes such as Samson, and of course Hercules, but one-time biblical bad guy Goliath also starred in a few entries after being reinvented as a white hat (or white toga, if you prefer). This 1959 outing stars the original Hercules himself, Steve Reeves, as Emiliano, a super-buff woodcutter whose people are preyed upon by an invading barbarian horde and subjected to the usual barbarian degradations such as rape, pillage, arson and murder.
Steve Reeves as Emiliano, soon to be better known as Goliath.
After the killing of his father (who was apparently some kind of high muckety-muck in the community, but the script’s a bit muddy on that) Emiliano adopts a ludicrous mask and fright wig and embarks on a campaign of murderous terror against his foes, bashing them in the head with a big rock on a tether, crushing their throats with a clawed gauntlet, or assaulting them with a massive club.
Any way you cut it and no matter what weapons are deployed, the guy kills a shitload of barbarians before the bad guys get sick of him having the nerve to defend the innocent, so he’s soon a wanted man. And for no good reason the barbarians think the masked raider is a monster and dub him Goliath. Don't ask me why.
During the requisite bouts of violence and homoerotic displays of greasy, straining thews and superhuman feats of strength, Londo, the incredibly hot daughter of one of the invaders, finds herself dripping like a broken refrigerator at the sight of our hero and in no time a forbidden love affair is in full swing.
Playing the haughty barbarian princess is Chelo Alonso, a Cuban/Mexican dancer and former star of the Folies-Bergères in Paris, and she is one thermonuclear warrior goddess whose look reminds me of Halle Berry.
Yeah, this one's got pretty much everything you'd want in a Peplum flick with the exception of a couple of rubber-suit monsters, and it's packed with enough action, romance and eye candy to make any audience happy. Now available in a gorgeous print as half of a Goliath double bill on DVD, GOLIATH AND THE BARBARIANS is a lot better than you might expect and is a terrific bit of Saturday matinee fodder that I enjoyed quite a lot. And while it can't hope to compete in terms of budget, in terms of solid entertainment this film beats BEOWULF by leaps and bounds. TRUST YER BUNCHE!!!