War Of The Zombies
aka Rome Against Rome, Roma Contro Roma, Night Star: Goddess Of Elektra
Director Giuseppe Vari Writers Ferruccio de Martino, Massimo de Rita, Piero Pierotti, Marcello Sartarelli
Cast John Drew Barrymore (Aderbad), Susy Andersen (Tullia), Ettore Manni (Gaius), Ida Galli (Rhama), Mino Doro (Lutetius), Ivano Staccioli (Sirion), Philippe Hersent (Azer)
“Unconquerable warriors of the damned!” screams the
Luckily War Of The Zombies from 1964 is not just another Sons of Hercules muscle-fest, but an ambitious fantasy-horror ranking comfortably near Mario Bava’s Hercules In The Haunted World and Riccardo Freda’s The Witches Curse. In War Of The Zombies, however, there’s no Hercules, Samson or Ursus as the beefcake-flavoured focal point. Instead the film’s hero is Roman centurion Gaius, sent without his troops to the troubled Salmacia province to investigate
Sounds incredible, and to a certain extent it is. This IS a peplum, let’s not forget, and as such there are dry patches of wooden dialogue and stiff-as-corpses emoting to suffer. Once we wade through the regulation courtships and betrayals, however, we’re presented with the payoff: a magnificent low-rent but surprisingly effective battle between the living and the dead, smothered with superimposed colour swirls of saturated reds and blues (Mario Bava’s favourite palette for supernatural effects). Rather than rotting corpses, the Moon Goddess’ army is presented as ghostly figures, their otherworldliness underscored by slow motion cameras and an eerie echo-laden soundtrack. Just as impressive is the over-the-top performance of their leader, high priest Aderbad, played by John Drew Barrymore (son of John Barrymore, father of Drew Barrymore) in one of his numerous Italian film appearances between numerous cocktails in the early Sixties. Quasi-psychedelic, and several notches above your ordinary Italian sword and sandal, is the zombie-themed peplum chiller Rome Against Rome, or War Of The Zombies.