MESSALINA AGAINST THE SON OF HERCULES (1964)
aka L’ultimo gladiatore
Article 4449 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Umberto Lenzi
Featuring Richard Harrison, Lisa Gastoni, Marilu Tolo
Country: Italy / France
What it is: Sword and Sandal
The captured Briton slave Glaucus becomes embroiled in the plans of an evil woman intent on becoming the empress of Rome.
Near the beginning of the movie, Glaucus is said to be an actual descendant of Hercules, which is a bit surprising, as most of the other “Sons of Hercules” movies tend to take the title more metaphorically than literally. There’s also a lot of talk of how Glaucus has the strength of ten men, but in action, the closest I can find to any show of super-strength is when he lifts a heavy door at one point; in all other cases, I see nothing that indicates he has super-strength. And that about does it for the fantastic content in this one, as it falls squarely into the historical camp rather than the mythological camp; it’s mostly about the political machinations of Messalina during and after the reign of Caligula. There’s lots of fighting, action, and sword-and-sandal cliches, but I found this one to be somewhat on the dull side. There’s probably a few more sword-and-sandal movies from this era that I’ll be watching, but I hope they have more fantastic content than this one does.