5 November 2007 | Bunuel1976
ATTILA FLAGELLO DI DIO (Castellano and Pipolo, 1982) **
When originally released, this crude spoof of sword-and-sandal epics was not a box office success
so much so that leading man Diego Abatantuono who had scored highly in supporting roles in FANTOZZI CONTRO TUTTI (1980) and the all-star comedy extravaganza, GRAND HOTEL EXCELSIOR (1982) was forced to rethink his persona and re-emerged a few years later as a more versatile actor, culminating in his appearance in the Oscar-winning MEDITERRANEO (1991).
Anyway, there had previously been an earlier straight Italian epic concerned with the exploits of the legendary Barbarian leader Pietro Francisci's ATTILA aka ATTILA THE HUN (1954) starring Anthony Quinn, with which I'm also familiar and which also sported the same original subtitle in some quarters; this remake of sorts has, with the advent of time, constant airplay on Italian TV and the homevideo revolution, become a veritable cult classic on its homeground. This was the main reason why I decided to give it another viewing but, alas, it just isn't very good!
True, Abatantuono is ideally cast as the furry-chested, feather-brained leader of a handful of misfit Barbarians out to destroy the Roman Empire after the latter had destroyed their land, ran off with their women and, worst of all (for them), stolen their precious horses. Despite the presence of other emerging Italian comics Mauro Di Francesco and Francesco Salvi, the not displeasing appearance of a scantily clad Rita Rusic and a folkish score, the brew fails to rise to the surface except intermittently: a Barbarian borrowing the horns of a cow to wear on his head so as not to be inferior to his companion sporting a horned helmet, Abatantuono explaining what each letter of his newly-minted name stands for to a group of Romans guarding a bridge, Abatantuono and Di Francesco forced by a disciplinarian Roman schoolteacher to join a class of Roman kids which they have supposedly just attacked, etc. In spite of these occasional felicities, however, the final verdict remains that as a spoof of the historical epic, ATTILA FLAGELLO DI DIO is a long way even from the two BRANCALEONE films starring Vittorio Gassman which predated it by more than a decade