The components is easy: a mesomorphic hero clad in little greater than an ornate loincloth, armed with heavy steel, seeks revenge towards the despot who did him improper and finally saves the lady dressed like Barbara Eden in I Dream of Jeannie who’s being held in chains by the evil ruler. “Sword-and-sandal” films have been a part of the movie world because the early 1900s, but it surely wasn’t till the Nineteen Fifties, when Italian administrators like Pietro Francisci and Sergio Corbucci noticed a low-budget technique to capitalize on the successes of American epics like 1949’s Samson and Delilah and 1953’s The Gown, that the style got here into its personal. Typically dismissed as spaghetti westerns with deltoids and shields, sword-and-sandal movies developed from films produced on a budget with unknown actors and threadbare plots to multi-million greenback epics worthy of Oscar recognition. These are the style’s films that not solely established the style, however that elevated it to new heights.
9/9 Hercules (1958)
In 1954, producers Dino De Laurentiis and Carlo Ponti launched Ulysses, a cinematic extravaganza primarily based on the seventeenth century poem by Homer that chronicled the hero’s efforts to get again to his dwelling following the conflict. The film starred Kirk Douglas within the title position and raked in over $120 million on the field workplace. Seeing a chance to use a brand new style of movies primarily based on mythological and biblical adventures, in 1958, director Francisci introduced Hercules to the massive display screen. With a restricted finances, Francisci wasn’t capable of safe large title stars, however he was capable of snag an American bodybuilder, Steve Reeves, to play the titular hero. It labored. The movie grew to become the twenty first highest U.S. grossing movie of that 12 months, and it made a star out its muscle-bound main man.
The story was easy — the hero with superhuman energy falls for Iole (Sylva Koscina), the attractive daughter of Pelias, however should first full a collection of Ninja warrior-style challenges and battle a plethora of evil forces earlier than he can win her hand. The movie is a cheese-fest from starting to finish, with unhealthy inexperienced display screen backgrounds, even worse dialogue looping (Reeves’ voice was dubbed by actor Richard McNamara), Greek warriors from 1000 B.C. sporting Frankie Avalon haircuts, damsels in misery in bullet bras, and particular results that had been something however. None of this mattered to audiences, who could not get sufficient of the bare-chested Reeves vanquishing the whole lot from water buffaloes to T-Rexes. The film spawned a sequel the subsequent 12 months, established Reeves because the King of Sword-and-Sandal Cinema, and created an entire new sub-genre of flicks that includes glistening Greek and Roman gods in battles to the demise. There have been dozens of movies and TV reveals concerning the mythological muscle stud within the years following the discharge of this movie, however none can match the unique.
8/9 Son of Samson (1960)
Intently following the Hercules components, this entry within the sword-and-sandal style is notable for its blatant homoeroticism. Director Carlo Campogalliani appeared to know that he may make a film that might enchantment to journey lovers, however that might even be a subliminal love story about two hunks who meet cute, get separated by destiny, then finally reunite. As soon as once more, an American bodybuilder, Mark Forest, performs the hero. Maciste is the son of the legendary warrior Samson, who drew his energy from his lengthy hair. Maciste’s hilariously sexually charged first scene with Egyptian pharaoh Kenamun (Angelo Zanolli) includes wrestling to the demise an clearly stuffed lion, adopted by awkward dubbed guffawing and the boys playfully pushing one another round. Maciste then heads off to free a band of feminine slaves (all carrying Bettie Web page wigs) earlier than the evil Persian Queen Smedes (Beyoncé look-alike Chelo Alonso) can work them to demise. Alongside the way in which, the queen makes an attempt a hysterically awkward dance of seduction to win Maciste’s affections, however he isn’t in the least . The movie ends with Maciste saving Kenamun from demise and holding him in his arms earlier than the 2 head off and discover some girlfriends. Though most audiences might have been oblivious to the subliminal messages the movie was sending (to not point out Forest’s extraordinarily skimpy clothes that left little to the creativeness), there is not any doubt Son of Samson was a heavy “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” to homosexual audiences within the nonetheless closely closeted early Sixties.
7/9 Spartacus (1960)
With the success of the Hercules franchise and different Italian-produced films like 1960’s David and Goliath, Hollywood took be aware. If a decrease finances movie that includes unknown actors may carry within the large bucks, simply assume what a multi-million greenback manufacturing that includes A-list stars may do for the coffers at Common Studios. Therefore, a Spartacus is born. At a price of $12 million (equal to over $100 million right this moment), with a cavalcade of prestigious stars that included Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, and Peter Ustinov, and clocking in at practically 3 1/2 hours, Spartacus elevated the style to new respectable heights. This Stanley Kubrick-directed extravaganza a few slave who turns into a gladiator and leads a revolt towards the evil Roman Empire is all swords, all sandals, and all spectacle. Successful 4 Oscars, Spartacus set the usual for future epics like 2000’s Gladiator and 2006’s 300. Simply attempt to ignore Tony Curtis as a Roman slave with a Brooklyn accent, although.
6/9 Valley of the Lions (1961)
There are two causes to focus on this Italian import: the plot, which is Tarzan meets The Jungle E book meets Hercules, and the star, Ed Fury. Sure, Fury was one other in a protracted line of American bodybuilders-turned-actors who stuffed the loincloths in so many of those low-budget international options, however he had sufficient charisma to be a worthy successor to the Steve Reeves of the world. Though he by no means rose above the “B” record, Fury had an enchantment that allowed him to reprise his position within the movie’s two sequels. On this one, Fury performs Ursus, the son of a king who, after his household is murdered by an evil dictator, is raised by a delight of lions. Someway alongside the way in which, Ursus has managed to discover a gymnasium to get him that “Physique Pictorial” look, an esthetician to wax his physique, and a barber to fashion his hair like James Dean in Insurgent With out a Trigger. As soon as Ursus grows up and decides to go away his lion household, he discovers his royal blood and battles it out with the evil King Simud (Giacomo Furia) to avenge his dad and mom’ deaths. Though not practically on the identical degree as Spartacus and even Hercules, Valley of the Lions is a should for sword-and-sandal purists.
5/9 Jason and the Argonauts (1963)
This heroic journey concerning the Greek warrior’s seek for the Golden Fleece is most notable for its unimaginable particular results by stop-motion animation grasp Ray Harryhausen. Anybody who was a child within the Sixties or ’70s and who noticed this film on Saturday afternoon TV will keep in mind the nightmares they suffered after watching the enormous Greek statue that involves life, the flying, screeching gargoyles, the seven-headed hydra, and the military of sword-bearing skeletons. Whereas the solid holds its personal, together with Todd Armstrong as Jason, Nigel Inexperienced as Hercules, and Honor Blackman as Queen Hera, it is Harryhausen’s magical results which might be the true stars of this spectacular style entry.
4/9 Conflict of the Titans (1981)
Eighteen years after Jason and the Argonauts, Harryhausen was nonetheless at it together with his trademark “dynamation.” Conflict of the Titans actually is an homage to the sword-and-sandal options of the sooner a long time, and Harryhausen brings his thrilling and chilling particular results to the story of Perseus (Harry Hamlin), son of Greek God Zeus (Laurence Olivier), who should battle a refrain of evil adversaries to rescue the attractive Andromeda (Judi Bowker). The movie comprises a very memorable and chilling scene during which the serpent-haired Medusa slithers via the corridors of her citadel palace searching for Perseus, taking pictures arrows and turning unsuspecting troopers to stone alongside the way in which. Then, in fact, there’s the well-known “launch the Kraken!” scene, as the enormous multi-limbed beast (a form of Creature from the Black Lagoon on efficiency enhancing dietary supplements) is free of the depths of the ocean to seize the truthful Andromeda. The movie was given a refresh in 2010 with Sam Worthington as Perseus and Liam Neeson as Zeus, but it surely’s the 1981 unique that audiences keep in mind.
3/9 Crimson Sonja (1985)
What? No Conan the Barbarian on this record? Whereas Conan is a worthy sword-and-sandal journey, particular point out should go to its spinoff, Crimson Sonja, one of many few within the style that contains a feminine hero kicking butt. It nonetheless has Arnold Schwarzenegger (although as a hero named Kalidor, not Conan, because the manufacturing did not have rights to the Conan character), but it surely’s the ladies who carry this movie. Brigitte Nielsen is the warrior looking for revenge on maniacal Queen Gedren (Sandahl Bergman), the fiend who murdered Sonja’s household. Crimson Sonja is pure camp from begin to end. You have not seen something till you see Sonja knock over an annoying baby who’s in her manner, or use her sword to gouge out the eyes of an enormous plastic piranha-angler fish combo. Sonja’s epic battle with Gedren, who has the inexplicable skill to fade from one spot and pop up in one other similar to Bewitched‘s Samantha Stevens, is definitely worth the value of admission alone. And whereas nobody would ever accuse Nielsen of delivering an Oscar-worthy efficiency on this movie, she should be given golf claps for her skill to look like taking all of this nonsense significantly, particularly with strains like “If hazard is a commerce, I am going to study it on my own.”
2/9 Gladiator (2000)
The sword-and-sandal style lastly received newfound respect with director Ridley Scott‘s Finest Image winner that tells the story of Maximus (Russell Crowe), the final looking for revenge on the sociopathic Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), the ruler chargeable for the murders of Maximus’ spouse and son (beginning to see a plot sample with these movies but?). Violent, bloody, and with among the most intense motion sequences ever captured on movie, Gladiator does what films like Hercules and Spartacus could not — present the true brutality of Rome in 180 AD. Watching Maximus wage a struggle to the demise towards warrior Tigris (Sven-Ole Thorsen) and precise tigers within the Colosseum is true “fringe of your seat” viewing. Gladiator made an unlikely motion star of Crowe, and Phoenix so masterfully nailed the psychosis of Commodus, it is no marvel he finally ended up enjoying The Joker practically 20 years later.
1/9 300 (2006)
The film that introduced painted-on abs and chain mail loincloths into mainstream cinema, 300 is a surreal, stylized fever dream of violent machismo set towards the story of a ferocious battle between armies of Spartans and Persians in 480 BC Greece. By no means thoughts the plot, although; it is all concerning the expertise. 300 is Frank Miller’s graphic novel delivered to life, and it is like an prolonged music video choreographed by Paula Abdul, however with togas, swords, and shields as a substitute of scrunchies, leg heaters, and ballet slippers. It is also the film that launched audiences to the “shout appearing” of Gerard Butler as Spartan King Leonidas. It might have been troublesome to discover a teenage boy in 2006 who in some unspecified time in the future did not scream, “That is Sparta!” as he walked down the halls of his highschool. Nonetheless, for all of its excessive stylization, 300 is an creative spin on the tried and true sword-and-sandal characteristic, and it introduced in over $450 million on the field workplace. It additionally spawned a 2014 sequel, 300: Rise of an Empire, validating the enduring success of the style and guaranteeing its continued viability.