Kerim, Son of the Sheik (1962)

If you love guys riding around the desert on horses with their scimitars in the air, this Italian sword and sandal epic with a Middle Eastern paint job will surely put a minaret in your thwab!

There’s stampedes to maraud and burn an oasis, there’s messengers bringing tragic news from afar, there’s ambushes, counter-ambushes, attacks on a desert palace (as well as a retreat when the dang palace gate gets closed), and most pleasingly of all, riding around for some nice hot dusty vengeance by a pumped up dude decked out in an Arabian ninja costume!

The tribes of the Arabian peninsula are a scattered, disaffected lot, ruled over by the evil Omar, a man who only desires to become the Khedive and score the hottest princess cameltoe in the freaking desert!

Though Omar is clearly the villain of the piece (he kills Kerim’s sister after all), watching him try to put up with his power hungry and hard looking girlfriend, dealing with a palace full of whiners and traitors and attempting to keep the Khedive’s nosy emissary Prince Ahmed out his business, it is hard not to feel sorry for him on occasion.

By the time Omar has his shotgun marriage to Princess Fawzia interrupted by a convoluted (though admittedly brilliant) scheme hatched by the Black Sheik himself, you can almost understand why he then has the piss whipped out of star Gordon Scott and for good measure follows up by putting Fawzia on the rack! Can’t this dude just have one day where things go his way?

Following a raid by Omar on Kerim’s camp (conveniently while Kerim was out of town on unspecified business), Omar kidnaps Kerim’s sister to be used as his play thing. Perhaps demonstrating the stunning lack of palace security that would be the hallmark of the film (Kerim climbs up and down a trellis to get at Fawzia with no one paying any attention except the disloyal handmaiden who only wants to see Omar dead), Kerim’s sister pulls a knife on him and gets herself killed instead.

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Despite it being a clear case of self-defense by Omar, Kerim uses the incident as an opportunity to become the Bedouin super hero called the Black Sheik.

As befitting most of the strongmen heroes of these types of films, Kerim’s plan for revenge is slightly underdeveloped and initially consists of him and two buddies riding around in Omar’s town just looking to see what’s going on.

Luckily there happens to be a public flogging just down the street which Kerim is only too happy to wade into.

What follows is a montage of the Black Sheik (Kerim now wears a snazzy black outfit with smart red accents) pulling all sorts of guerilla activities on Omar’s men and then passing out whatever goodies they get to the commoners. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Black Sheik becomes quite popular with them.

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During one of the raids Kerim encounters Fawzia and falls in love with her. She is related to the Khedive though so Omar wants to marry and then kill her so that he will become the next Khedive.

Kerim, a smart guy when it comes to revolution and getting some ass, realizes that he’s going to need the guns that Prince Ahmed is bringing with him on his visit to Omar.

Omar’s botched ambush of Ahmed’s caravan (highlighted by a Gordon Scott vs. Gordon Mitchell fight) turns the tide against Omar as does Gordon Scott’s big arm cannons that manage to break loose from his sweaty bondage and whipping!

Kerim battles Omar’s forces inside the castle and then races through the desert for the final roll in the sand with Omar.

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Director Mario Costa (Conqueror of Corinth) keeps the action and fighting going, despite a lot plot involving Omar’s schemes.

Fans of traditional sword and sandal fare should feel right at home despite the Arabian themes since there are no flying carpets or magic genies, but there are three of the native dance sequences (including one with dudes in red skirts!) that all true peplum films were required to have.

No complaints can be lodged against Gordon Scott here either. He’s does a bang up job of resembling Steve Reeves and looks like a tanned up god of the dunes whether in his Black Sheik fetish outfit or engaging in the final shirtless posedown/fight with Omar.

He even has time to lament the heavy price everyone had to pay for their freedom prompting Ahmed to give an early version of the “freedom isn’t free” speech thus making the film good viewing for kids, but being completely at odds with all the un-freedom loving people over there today.

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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