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Ercole, Sansone, Maciste e Ursus gli Invincibili

Samson and the Mighty Challenge
Combate de Gigantes / Le Grand Défi / Samson and His Mighty Challenge / Samson and the Seven Challenges / Die Stunde der harten Männer / Triumph der Giganten

Italy / Spain / France 1964
produced by
Giorgio Cristallini for Senior Cinematografica, Productores Exhibidores Films, Films Régent
directed by Giorgio Capitani
starring Alan Steel (= Sergio Ciani), Red Ross (= Howard Ross), Nadir Baltimore (= Nadir Moretti), Yann Larvor, Luciano Marin, Hélène Chanel, Lia Zoppelli, Moira Orfei, Arnaldo Fabrizio, Livio Lorenzon, Nino Dal Fabbro, Elisa Montés, María Luisa Ponte, Conrado San Martín, Valentino Macchi, Nino Marchetti, Carlo Tamberlani
written by Sandro Continenza, Roberto Gianviti, music by Piero Umiliani

Hercules, Samson, Maciste, Ursus, Hercules (Alan Steel), Maciste (1960's)

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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It all starts with Hercules (Alan Steel) choosing the path of pleasure rather than virtue for a change (literally), and there he soon runs into and saves Princess Omphale (Elisa Montés) from drowning, and as these stories go, he of course falls in love with her on the spot. Thing is, despite his noble deed, Omphale doesn't love him back one bit and instead has a secret affair with Inor (Luciano Marin), prince of the Mountain Tribes, the sworn enemies of Lydia, home of Omphale. That said, Nemea (Lia Zoppelli), queen of Lydia and Omphale's own mother, would very much love to see her and Hercules getting married, as she needs a strong ally (like a demi-god) in her fight against the Mountain Tribes. So she does her best to stall Hercules and use his powers to her advantage while trying every trick in the book to make Omphale fall for him. However, Omphale and Inor trick the local oracle (Hélène Chanel) into telling Nemea that in order for Hercules to marry Omphale, he needs to first defeat the strongest man in the world - Samson (Nadir Baltimore). So Nemea's emissaries set out to track down Samson, who's actually really eager to go to Lydia for all the beautiful women there, but his wife Dalila (Moira Orfei) quickly realizes what's going downn and cuts off his hair, robbing him of his power - so he refuses to go, fearing to be embarrassed. So Nemea's emissaries hire local brute Ursus (Yann Larvor) to pretty much drag Samson to Lydia. And to keep Ursus in line, they also hire super-righteous strongman Maciste (Red Ross). Back in Lydia, the fight between Hercules and Samson is pretty one-sided, as was to be expected, so much so that Omphale flees the city with Inor. But trying to find abode with the Mountain Tribes proves to be an ill-advised move as Inor's father only captures her to burn her at the stake while forcing his son to marry another woman, something which ultimately leads to a big fistfight everybody against everyone, and when Hercules arrives to "save" Omphela, he's pretty much ignored, and eventually finding out that Omphela doesn't love him but Inor doesn't brighten up his mood, but he wants to do right - if it wasn't for that blasted oracle. But ultimately, back in Lydia, Samson's hair has grown back and he wants to beat Hercules fair and square, which only needs to a battle royale, eventually ended by Zeus, who simply doesn't want to be bothered anymore ...


Back in the early to mid-1960s, peplums were pretty much produced a dime a dozen in Italy, some actually rather good, some campy, some enjoyably bad, and many just drivel. But even taking into account the numbers in which they were produced (and obviously also consumed) didn't mean the Italians took them wholly seriously, and there were parodies before, most notably maybe Toto contro Maciste/Toto vs. Maciste or Arrivano i Titani/My Son, the Hero. What makes this movie special of course is that it not only takes the four most-employed heroes of the era, Hercules, Samson, Maciste and Ursus, and gives them all a good send-up but also that it shows a certain self-awareness for genre tropes and really questions many of them in a very hilarious way. And that the film stars many actors also seen in serious peplums, from Alan Steel and Moira Orfei down, only adds to the film's fun. That all said, truth to be told this is still a rather broad comedy, and the parodistic elements are a bit hit-or-miss, but there are plenty of good laughs here, and even some of the not-so-good ones show some insight to make this pretty cool nostalgic entertainment at least.


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review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD