18 August 1999 | sanzar
Muscleman to the Rescue!
"Maciste in King Solomon's Mines", as this film is known (although just barely) in the states, is another in the long line of sword and sandal "epics" churned out in Italy in the wake of the hugely successful Hercules films starring Steve Reeves.
Toplined by Reg Park (whose claim to fame is that he's brawnier than most of the other so-called "musclemen" who played Hercules, Goliath, Maciste, etc. - it certainly isn't his acting, which is atrocious and seemingly dubbed by himself or some equally erudite ex-high school football hero), it's the story of a mythic hero of the people, summoned to the jungle city of Zimba to free the oppressed masses, who have been enslaved by the evil Queen Fazira to dig gold (and more gold) from the legendary mines of King Solomon.
Once Maciste arrives in the city, he is overpowered by Fazira's personal guard and bewitched with a magical ankle bracelet, which causes him to lose his free will, relegating him to servitude in the mines. Soon (but not soon enough), he is freed from his mind-numbing paralysis and exacts his revenge upon Fazira & her minions & co-conspirators, frees the slaves and installs his friend as the new ruler in an energetic finale.
Having accomplished a job, well done, he walks off into the veldt, awaiting his next adventure.
I admit I like this stuff (I grew up watching hundreds of such "gladiator" pictures, or peblums, as they are also known)), but this opus is not one of the best examples of the genre. Filmed in South Africa, the film makes little use of the scenery other than to pad the running time with a variety of nature shots. It's for "early 60's" nostalgia buffs & die-hard fans of the genre.
These types of films are virtually unshown on TV today (except for an occasional airing on the TNT network). The version I saw, obtained from a PD video company, has severely washed-out color and is not nearly worth the investment.