The ancient world was unquestionably fraught with peril what with rampaging monsters, power-crazed kings, smelly barbarians, and sporadic shortages of bronzer which no doubt caused our humongous heroes no end of trouble and headaches.
Some muscular missions though were tougher than others. For instance, a subterranean kingdom populated by hundreds of leopard men and ruled by an evil sexy queen who enslaved regular guys sure sounds like it has all the makings of a 10.0 magnitude beefquake! And it does! Times two!
It’s understandable if you just juiced your jockstrap because all the stops are pulled out for the 24th of 25 Maciste films produced in the early 1960s! It’s an underground adventure so vast that it will take not one, but two Macistes to handle the deltoid-destroying duties!
And not just any two Macistes, but Macistes who are brothers! And who are both named Maciste! But each with his own unique superpower!
One of the brothers has the power of having a beard! And the other brother exhibits all the abilities of the clean-shaven! How can we ever thank the Gods for showering us with this bounty of brawn?
It all starts just as you would fantasize, with the Macistes working their dream job: temple construction! Lugging around giant blocks of white stone in service of their wimpy prince who is building a temple to suck up to the gods prior to his wedding to his fairly average looking princess, the Macistes are on scene when a mysterious cave in jump starts all the strange goings on at the Waterfall of the Gods!
The good princess is ambushed, kidnapped by the Leopard Men and taken through the secret entrance to the underground world where the crazed, lonely, and by looking at the tubby piece of crap boyfriend she’s sporting, surely quite horny, queen is waiting with a terrifying scheme to get a brand new man! She puts the princess under her spell and then sends her back to the surface to do her bidding!
Meanwhile Bearded Maciste is conducting an investigation at the Waterfall of the Gods by beating the spots off these Leopard Men! This particular Maciste (sometimes known as Rod Flash in films such as Ali Baba and the Sacred Crown, Vulcan Son of Jupiter and as Richard Lloyd in the terrific toga three way Hercules, Samson & Ulysses) sets the standard early on with his relentless pummeling of these pathetic pussycat pansies.
Guys get heaved off waterfalls, punched, clubbed, thrown and impaled with the tridents they foolishly try to wield in Maciste’s presence. And they get no respite when they turn tail and run off into their cave hideout because Maciste just follows and uses his bicep bazookas to open up the giant stone door!
At least fifty more extras clad in silly-assed leopard masks, gloves, trunks, and boots earn a days pay the hard way as they’re slammed here and there in the caves before Bearded Maciste gets himself trapped, drugged and put under the queen’s spell!
Never fear though because we’ve a Maciste in reserve, right? Well, kind of. Clean-Shaven Maciste almost immediately falls prey to a drugged drink he’s given by the princess topside!
He spends the middle part of the movie sleeping it off, while his brother becomes the evil queen’s plaything and most humiliatingly of all, is forced to fight the queen’s flabby old boyfriend. (Sure Maciste wins, but lard ass gets in some shots, and really, should a super sculpted stud like Maciste even have to do more than flex in the guy’s direction to be triumphant?)
When the Maciste brothers aren’t smacking the taste out of costumed scums’ mouths, the movie settles into the supremely sucky sword and sandal flick it truly is. The queen babbles about being cursed by the gods, how the giant water wheel has to keep being turned or all the oxygen in her kingdom will disappear, and pointlessly tries to marry the good prince when she’s got more man then she could ever hope to handle with Bearded Maciste!
Those with the fortitude of a drugged Clean Shaven Maciste (though hopefully without his dimwitted looks) are rewarded as Maciste fights Maciste before the spell is broken and allows both Macistes to beat up everyone else as the kingdom is destroyed!
While admittedly limited in every aspect of acting with the exception of throwing an exaggerated punch, each Maciste does do a good job of not damaging the colorful but chintzy-looking sets during their scenes. For peplum purists, there is also a scene of a guy and girl in leopard outfits doing some acrobatic dirty dancing.
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