Sunday, November 15, 2009

'Maciste in Hell' is one of the best fantasy movies ever made

Maciste In Hell (1925)
Starring: Bartolomeo Pagano, Franz Sala and Lucia Zanussi
Director: Guido Brignone
Rating: Nine of Ten Stars

When a group of devils decide to leave Hell to spread temptation and misery on Earth, they make the mistake of approaching the pure-hearted, strong-willed and just plain strong country gentleman Maciste (Pagano) in the hopes of tempting him to cause of evil. Maciste, who doesn't take guff from terrestial nobles and who cares even less for the supposed Lords of Hell, refuses their offer and promises to beat them senseless. The devils respond by sending Maciste to Hell... but they soon regret their choice. Even the hordes of Hell can't stop Maciste when he sets his mind to dishing out an ass-kicking!

There is a word that perfectly sums up my reaction to this film: Wow.

Although a silent movie, with all the emoting and Snidely Whiplash costuming that entails, "Maciste in Hell" features some of the most amazing sets and tableaus featuring hundreds of extras writhing in demonic costumes that have ever been committed to films. This film features visions of Hell more impressive and mindblowing that anything I've seen in any other film, despite the fact that this film is over 80 years old, and they didn't have nearly the level of technical sophistication we have now when it comes to effects.


Yes, the score is irritating and wildly inappropriate at times. Yes, sometimes the acting is overly melodramatic. However, turn the volume down, put Mike Oldfield's "Five Miles Out" and "Tubular Bells II" in the CD player, crank up the volume, and sit back and watch one of the greatest movies EVER unfold before your amazed eyes.

The presense of "Maciste in Hell"--which is fairly rare on DVD near as I can tell--makes "Nightmare Worlds" boxed set worth owning almost by itself. It's a MUST SEE for anyone who enjoys horror and fantasy movies



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