Thursday, July 9, 2020

MACISTE - Who's your favourite?

Maciste originally appeared in the granddaddy of PEPLUM movies, CABIRIA (1914). His character was a powerful slave and he won the hearts of moviegoers back then. The character was so popular that the actor who played him, Bartolomeo Pagano, officially changed his name to Maciste and made a plethora of movies, including MACISTE IN HELL (1926). So, the character had a life of its own outside of CABIRIA.


The first movie to reprise the character's name was SON OF SAMSON (1960) starring Mark Forest. It was a solid film and a hit, which then opened the floodgates for dozens of other PEPLUM movies with the muscular hero.

Maciste is fascinating in that one could see him as Hercules but without all that Greek mythological stuff, you know, the Gods and Mount Olympus, etc. But the character itself evolved in odd ways as time went on. Bartolomeo Pagano's Maciste appeared in stories set in the past or in contemporary times, as the settings would fit the stories. After the revival in 1960 with the release of SON OF SAMSON, Maciste took on a mythological aspect: he became this timeless hero who could be conjured up from anywhere or in any specific time in history. This makes for an interesting if odd set of introductions. In MACISTE IN THE VALLEY OF THE THUNDERING ECHOES (1964), Maciste is literally conjured up by a high priest. In MACISTE AGAINST THE CAZR (1964), Maciste is revived from a tomb thanks to an ointment rubbed on his chest. In MACISTE IN HELL (1962), he just appears out of nowhere on horseback. So, the character evolved quite a lot since the silent era. How so? It seems the myth of Maciste is intrinsically linked with him defeating the Devil (in MACISTE IN HELL) and he sorta attained supernatural abilities after that. Not necessarily like a superhero but more like an angel of sorts, not bound by time and space. Was this good idea or not? Personally, I like it but the character needs a solid background story to make sense of where he came from and why he does the things he does (helping those in need).

The name Maciste has taken the meaning of 'born from the rock'. 

Anyway, here's a list of actors who portrayed the angel-like muscular hero. Setting aside Bartolomeo, who is your favourite?

Note: many of these Maciste movies were re-titled as another hero (Goliath, Samson, Atlas, etc) for markets outside of Europe. This list also excludes the soft-core porn Maciste movies of the 1970s. 



Mark Forest


Mark appeared in 7 movies with the Maciste character: SON OF SAMSON (above: 1960), MACISTE - STRONGEST MAN IN THE WORLD (1961), COLOSSUS OF THE ARENA (1962), GOLIATH AND THE SINS OF BABYLON (1963), HERCULES AGAINST THE MONGOLS (1963), HERCULES AGAINST THE BARBARIANS (below; 1963), and MACISTE - GLADIATOR OF SPARTA (1964)



Kirk Morris


Kirk Morris played Maciste in 7 movies: TRIUMPH OF MACISTE (1961), MACISTE AGAINST HERCULES IN THE VALE OF WOE (1961), MACISTE IN HELL (above; 1962), COLOSSUS AND THE HEADHUNTERS (1962), ATLAS AGAINST THE CZAR (below; 1964), MACISTE IN THE VALLEY OF THE THUNDERING ECHOES (1964), and MACISTE - AVENGER OF THE MAYANS (1965)



Gordon Mitchell


Gordon Mitchell appeared in one Maciste movie, re-titled as ATLAS IN THE LAND OF THE CYCLOPS (1961). In this movie, we first see a sleeping Maciste lying on a rock on some shore.


Gordon Scott


Gordon Scott played Maciste in two movies, both re-titled for the US market: GOLIATH & THE VAMPIRES (above; 1961), and SAMSON & THE SEVEN MIRACLES OF THE WORLD (below; 1961). 



Reg Lewis


Bodybuilder Reg Lewis appeared in one and only PEPLUM movie and it was a Maciste one: COLOSSUS OF THE STONE AGE (1962). His character was renamed Maxus in the English dub.


Reg Park

Reg Park starred in one Maciste movie: MACISTE IN KING SOLOMON'S MINES (1963) with Wandisa Guida. This one of the few Maciste movies in which the name was kept for the title.


Alan Steel


Alan Steel was Maciste in two favorites of mine: SAMSON & THE SLAVE QUEEN (below; 1963 aka Zorro against Maciste) and HERCULES AGAINST THE MOON MEN (above; 1964)





Renato Rossini (Howard Ross)

Renato was Maciste in SAMSON & THE MIGHTY CHALLENGE (1964). He had to duke it out with Hercules, Samson and Ursus. 


Iloosh Khoshabe and Mario Novelli

Both Iloosh Khoshabe and Mario Novelli were named Maciste in THE INVINCIBLE MACISTE BROTHERS (1964). In this case Khoshabe was Maciste the Elder and Novelli was Maciste the Younger:


Samson Burke

Samson Burke was Maciste in TOTO VS MACISTE (1962)


Ed Fury

Ed Fury in SAMSON AGAINST THE SHEIK (1964). Fun film but not really a Samson film nor a Maciste one. Samson is okay as a generic name for a hero but people expect Samson of the Bible.


So, who's your favourite?

Both Kirk Morris and Mark Forest appeared in many top PEPLUM films as Maciste so it's really a competition between the two, who are almost tied.

I like all of them but my personal favourites are: 

1- Kirk Morris. Mainly because of MACISTE IN HELL and TRIUMPH OF MACISTE which are classics in my book. When I hear the name Maciste, the image of Kirk pops in my head.

2- Mark Forest. With MACISTE - STRONGEST MAN IN THE WORLD and SON OF SAMSON, and his HERCULES vs barbarians movies makes him a solid contender.

3- Alan Steel. MOON MEN and ZORRO VS MACISTE are personal favorites.

4- Gordon Scott. GOLIATH & THE VAMPIRES alone put him in the top 5.

5- Gordon Mitchell. His ATLAS IN THE LAND OF THE CYCLOPS is a classic PEPLUM movie.


4 comments:

Steven Lester said...

Always Kirk Morris.

Foxman said...

Yep. Kirk Morris.

Anonymous said...

Kirk Morris and Mark Foresti

Anonymous said...

Mark Forest with Kirk Morris a close second.