Barbarian Movie Review: Colossus and the Headhunters

Editor’s note: from time to time we’ll be posting barbarian movie reviews here on  There are also quite a few more prominent titles reviewed in the book.  Movie ratings range from 1 to 5 Golden Axes. And yes, sooner or later we’ll be covering the new Conan the Barbarian movie with Jason Momoa, especially if Lion’s Gate wants to send us a screener and press kit, hint hint! Anyway, without further ado, here’s…

Colossus and the Headhunters (1963) – a.k.a. Maciste Contro i Cacciatori di Teste.  Released in the USA by American International Pictures.

A Golden AxeA Golden Axe

In this peplum pablum, Maciste (Kirk Morris) and his pompadour dye-job arrive on an island just in time for a volcano to force the inhabitants onto his raft. Maciste leads the tribe to another island, where they’re all immediately enslaved by, well, the “good” tribe, one of whom immediately shoots Maciste through the heart with a bow and arrow.  Lucky Maciste recovers in full a few minutes later. The actual bad guys are a neighboring gang of headhunters (although you’d only know it by a couple of plastic skulls on posts). After Maciste has a low-intensity romantic moment with the good-guy queen Amoa (Laura Brown) she frees the captives.  Some boring stuff happens to kill time, then Maciste winds up rescuing the queen from the leader of the evil headhunters while the two-and-a-half tribes square off and set some huts on fire.  Maciste doesn’t do much of anything for most of the movie besides stand around with his shirt off, but he eventually defeats the evil headhunter leader which ends the conflict.  Case dismissed, Maciste rides off into the sunset on his trusty raft with the queen swimming after him and declaring her eternal love.  Their inevitable breakup is left to your imagination.

That’s pretty much the entire plot.  If you’re wondering where Colossus is in all that, well, apparently he’s Maciste although they never say so in the English dub.  In English, the movies were usually retitled with another hero’s name, e.g. Samson, Goliath, Hercules, etc..  There were a few more cheesy Maciste movies before Morris retired in 1971– 25 in total (though only 5 starred Morris).  That’s not counting the 27 silent films (1914-1927) or the two in the 1970s by Jess Franco. 54 movies? Apparently Italians love them some Maciste!  This entry was written and directed by peplum veteran Guido Malatesta, whose name loosely translates as “I drive bad head.”

Colossus and the Headhunters

Maciste, a.k.a. Colossus (Kirk Morris, a.k.a. Adriano Bellini) scoffs at the Queen's request for help. Yeah, I watched the MST3K version, got a problem with that?

Is this a barbarian movie? Yes, and not just because it’s as slow as Ator the Fighting Eagle. Just about everyone here’s in a loincloth, except for the four or five females, who wear syrupy mini-tunics. There’s certainly no shortage of pseudonymous Italians and the requisite bad dubbing, not to mention prophecies, a castle to be stormed, a hot and conveniently single queen, fiery battle scenes, and the occasional dude with chest hair like black rigatoni. It’s a barbarian movie, even if it looks like a tiki bar.

Colossus vs. the Headhunters: Barbarian Babes

Barbarian babes in the haute couture of 1960s Angola, aboard Maciste's rescue vessel.


The guy on the left pretty much stands like that for the whole movie.


A barbarian queen in Colossus and the Headhunters

A barbarian queen knows how to swing a sword and look good doing it.


Barbarian queen's butt in Colossus and the Headhunters

Whoops! Should have taken some combat lessons from Red Sonja!


Colossus and the Huns: Epic Battle

Every now and then the director, Guido Malatesta, does something right. The aerial shots of the battle aren't exactly Saving Private Ryan-grade, but for a low-budget barbarian flick they could be a lot worse.


Colossus versus the Headhunters: bird dance

...but then there's scenes like this one. Dah-dah dah-dah dah-dah duh... TEQUILA!


Colossus and the Headhunters

Colossus, basted with extra virgin olive oil, prepares to audition for "Walking Tall."

You can never go wrong with American International Pictures, birthplace of Roger Corman, the godfather of schlock and the most important person in the history of American cinema. Special thanks to MST3K on this one– Maciste does indeed sound like “my cheesesteak.”  Push the button, Frank!

You could buy the actual movie on DVD over at Amazon: Colossus and the Headhunters.

Or you could just watch the ten-part MST3K version via Youtube: Colossus and the Headhunters on MST3K

For more barbarian movie reviews, and a whole lot more, order Barbarians: A Handbook for Aspiring Savages!

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2 Responses to “Barbarian Movie Review: Colossus and the Headhunters”

  1. Kirk Morris aka Adriano Bellini was the ultimate APPOLO d”Italia. The hottest of all Maciste actors. Olz share more

  2. moe noe on November 12th, 2011 at 5:04 am
  3. Plz share more of Morris’s movies

  4. moe noe on November 12th, 2011 at 5:04 am

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