Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5
Original Title: Il terrore dei barbari
Italy, 1959. Alta Vista, Standard Produzione. Screenplay by Gino Mangini, Emimmo Salvi, Nino Stresa, Giuseppe Taffarel. Cinematography by Bitto Albertini. Produced by Emimmo Salvi. Music by Les Baxter, Carlo Innocenzi. Production Design by Oscar D’Amico. Costume Design by Giorgio Desideri, Giovanna Natili. Film Editing by Franco Fraticelli.
The English title of this peplum adventure is misleading considering that, yes, there are Barbarians but, no, there is no Goliath. In fact, the film’s star Steve Reeves plays a guy with the much friendlier name of Emiliano, a sixth-century villager who is away from Verona when the swarthy, unethical army of Germanic warriors lay siege to his town and kill his chieftain father. Vowing to wreak havoc on the Barbarian invaders, he organizes guerrilla fighters and counterattacks but it’s mostly his own big arms swinging weapons that do the enemy in, inspiring fear by donning an animal mask that has them think they are being killed by a mythical beast. Lidia, the daughter of the enemy’s leader, is a temptress who knows there’s a hunky man under there and, given that she’s dressed like she’s in the road company of the Adam and Eve number from Can-Can, our hero makes himself vulnerable to her advances, eventually being caught and put to some impressive strong-man tortures. It’s inspired by the events of the Lombard invasion of Italy of AD 586, but the plot works out to be more of an inspiration for Rambo than the result of any historical text you’re looking to study. It’s not one of the more expensive of the Italian projects looking to capture the international taste for epics, the whole thing is muddy looking and appears to have been entirely shot on two sets, but the star’s appeal is on full display, both his good-natured sense of trusty morality and his awe-inspiring physique in equal measure.