Poseidon/Maciste (Mark Forest) from Sparta is a popular Roman gladiator for Caesar/Vitellius (Franco Cobianchi). Because of his strength he is never beaten in the ring. The beautiful Olympia (Marilu Tolo) is in love with Poseidon. The captain of the Praetorian Guard, Zefatius (Robert Hundar/Claudio Undari), is in love with Olympia and very jealous of Poseidon.
While on his way to Olympia’s villa Poseidon saves the life of Sylvia/Livia (Elisabeth Fanty) who is being chased by two Praetorian Guards. One guard is killed and the other seriously wounded. Her crime, being a Christian. Poseidon immediately falls in love with the beautiful Sylvia. When Zefatius finds out, he has Poseidon arrested.
Poseidon claims self defense since the guards were trying to kill him to get to the girl. Caesar decides that, to prove his innocence, Poseidon must battle a gorilla. Poseidon wins and the gorilla is toast. Caesar welcomes Poseidon back with open arms. Zefatius simmers. Caesar offers Poseidon anything he wishes because he won the battle. He says all he wants is Sylvia.
When Poseidon goes to meet Sylvia he is followed by guards who arrest all the Christians hiding with her. Sylvia goes with them instead of keeping her freedom since they are her people. Poseidon vows to free all the Christians and take them to a safe place where they can worship in peace but the Christians have been separated and there are dangers involved in freeing them. He manages to free all except their leader, a man they call Bishop Marcellus (Giuseppe Addobbati). Since Olympia is in love with Poseidon she helps him even though he is in love with Sylvia. Zefatius finds out that Olympia is helping Poseidon. He sets a trap for the gladiator.
“The Terror of Rome Against the Son of Hercules” AKA “Maciste, gladiatore di Sparta” was released in 1964 and was directed by Mario Caiano. It is a sword and sandal adventure film and one of the fourteen films sold to American television and packaged as “The Sons of Hercules”.
This is more of a biblical movie than your regular campy peplum film. What sticks out like a sore thumb is calling the hero Poseidon, or Maciste for that matter when neither one was part of biblical history. Poseidon was the Greek god of the sea and Maciste an Italian hero. As a sword and sandal film it does qualify but the theme of the movie makes for a rather tedious and boring film at times. Usually there are a lot of battles and some mystical or magical creatures but the biblical frame of the story doesn’t allow for much of that. Even the acts of strength are few and far between. They do, however, get a little more frequent toward the end of the film. It’s a decent movie, just not the usual camp as a lot of the other peplum films.
When the movie was repackaged as a “Sons of Hercules” film the names of some of the characters were changed to make them more recognizable to Americans. Instead of the hero being Maciste he is Poseidon and Vitellius is Caesar even though Vitellius was an actual emperor of Rome and never called himself Caesar. Instead he went by the nickname Germanicus. OK he was emperor for only eight months but this is an Italian movie and Italians should know their emperors.
Aulus Vitellius was indeed emperor of Rome for only eight months. He ruled from April 19th to December 20th in 69 AD. Vitellius was noted for his gluttony and his gambling. He was made emperor in what was referred to as the Year of the Four Emperors. The four emperors were Galba, Otho, Vitellius and Vespasian. The suicide of Nero brought on a period of civil war and the quick succession of emperors. When the followers of Vespasian overran those of Vitellius, Vespasian was made emperor and Vitellius was executed in Rome by Vespasian’s soldiers in 69 AD.
The gorilla that Poseidon has to battle looks more like a short black Bigfoot than a gorilla.