Rome Against Rome (1964)
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Yesterday I told my dad about "Dead Snow" a movie about Nazi zombies. So he told me about this, "Rome Against Rome" a movie about Roman zombies. So naturally, I had to look it up and check it out. It's a low budget Italian horror movie made in 1964, and it's age really shows. The effects, while awesome then, are pretty weird now to say the least. The acting is decent, you can tell though that all the actors were stage actors by the way they talk and look off into the distance, it's pretty amusing. The major thing about this is that it takes too long to get to the zombies. The movie is around 90 minutes long, and the zombies don't show up til the last 15 minutes. The rest is basically a roman military drama, with some supernatural stuff going on in the backdrop. The zombies are also more like ghosts than zombies you'd see in "Night of the Living Dead." I'm sure when my dad saw it when he was younger it blew his mind, but nowadays after seeing hundreds of zombie movies, it doesn't really hold up. I would LOVE however to see a remake, and put the zombies in battle with gladiators. That would be awesome! I love zombie movies, so I'll never pass up a chance to see a different take on them. If zombies are your thing, check it out, just don't expect much to be honest.
If there was ever a movie that defined the words "epic fail," it's "Rome Against Rome." It's big, it's brassy and it's so, so bad. The synopsis here isn't quite right. There are no zombies in this swords-and-sandals awfulness. There are ghosts raised the high priest of a sort of cyclops-goddess. They don't show up until the last 15 minutes or so of the film, though, and when they do, they're hidden by a magical black cloud that makes it nearly impossible to see them. Much of the film suffers the same fate; the director thought that unlit night shots were a good idea. At numerous points in the film, there's nothing visible but a black screen and maybe an eye, an ear, or someone's foot. Whole scenes of blackness with disembodied voices reciting ridiculous lines. For instance, when slave-girl Rama (lama ding-dong) cuts the forearm of our hero, Gaius, we hear, "I couldn't help myself. The goddess controlled my arm. She hates you," issuing from the on-screen blackness. Intersperse a bunch of shots of men in period armor riding horses and waving swords, a couple of gibberish speeches before the Roman Senate, and cheesy special effects involving double exposures and a spotlight "death ray" issuing from the single eye of a giant plaster head painted gold and you've essentially got the whole flick. There are some high (?) points, though, mainly in terms of the cast. First, the evil Sarmatian priest is played by John Drew Barrymore. He would later go on to father Drew Barrymore and enjoy a long career as a drug addict, alcoholic, child abuser and vagrant. Gaius is played by the ironically-named Errore Mani, whose greatest claim to fame came in 1979, when he accidentally shot himself in the groin and died. Nobody in this film can act, and none of them appear to be trying. In "Rome Against Rome," the actors are props from which to hang togas and armor. Having seen this, the thought occurred to me that millions must have been spent on the lavish sets and gigantic battle scenes. All of that money gone to waste. Isn't that how Rome fell? This is not a horror film. It's barely a film at all, considering how much of it takes place in complete darkness. What a mess. It would take a Roman orgy's worth of drinking to make this one palatable.
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