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Massacre in the Black Forest (a movie review)

Peplum, huh? I wouldn’t be surprised if people would think I am watching gore/horror movies almost exclusively. Well, I am listening and reviewing goregrind and gorenoise stuff, so it would go along with the rest of stuff, right?

Well, I like horror movies, there’s no doubt about it, but I am not limited in genres, as I like almost all genres and as an avid watcher (although slacking lately, I have to admit) I enjoy watching many different flicks.

For some time I’ve longed to start with peplum genre more extensively. The reason? Believe me or not, a peace of mind. These, mostly historical, mythological, swashbucklers and adventure movies give me so much joy – and nostalgia factor is exceptionally great. Last but not least, as I am learning more and more about Italian exploitation cinema, be it horror, giallo, peplum, macaroni combat or spaghetti western, one can’t but fall in love with those movies and people who made (and starred in) them.

Today I’ve opted for “Hermann der Cherusker – Die Schlacht in Teutoburger Wald”, also known as “Il massacro della foresta nera” (“Massacre in the Black Forest”), as I am quite fond of that episode of the world history, namely the German tribes’ fight against Romans, which – as you might know – was among the factors leading to the downfall of the Roman Empire.

The story is pretty simple and straightforward – and to be honest, it feels like portions of the movie were cut off – I was little tired when watching it, but I am sure I haven’t fallen asleep to miss something important, so especially the end was little like an unexpected WTF? Basically, Arminius (played by Hans von Borsody, who looks little like Paul Newman) has got pissed off with how Romans looked down on other people as barbarians, and left for his homeland, Germany. There he starts to urge German tribes to unite and throw the yoke of Rome off. Of course, Roman Empire couldn’t let it go and we know how it’s ended.

Arminius and Tusnelda

The movie itself is not bad, but it moves very quickly, with no character development, actually, the character of Livia (played by Serbian beauty Beba Loncar) seems to be quite useless there, but hey, it’s not my movie! I surely don’t get the swift ending and I was left scratching my head, thinking, “What the hell?” The production is quite cheap, you can feel that, but peplum were on their last breath, as spaghetti western took over, so that’s not very surprising.

Ferdinando Baldi, the director.

Released in 1967, this movie was directed by Italian director Ferdinando Baldi (and Rudolf Nussgruber, although he’s not credited), who is known to Italian exploitation cinema fans for his peplum movies David and Goliath (peplum), The Tartars, Duel of Champions, The Son of Cleopatra, In the Shadow of the Eagles, spaghetti westerns Django, Prepare a Coffin, Gunman of Ave Maria, Blindman (with Ringo Starr from Beatles), giallo Nine Guests for a Crime, adventure Treasure of the Four Crowns or actioners Warbus and Ten Zan – Ultimate Mission.

Adriano Bolzoni, the screenplay author

The screenplay credits are shared between Baldi, Adriano Bolzoni (who wrote screenplays for movies as Minnesota Clay, Savage Gringo, Ringo and his Golden Pistol, The Cobra, Avenger X and many many more) and Alessandro Ferraù (with screenplays to his credit for movies as The Pagans, The Slave Woman, Sword of the Conqueror, The Mongols, Hercules Against the Barbarians, Hercules Against the Mongols, Kindar the Invulnerable or Return of Django).


Alessandro Ferraù, the screenplay author.

As for the characters, I’ve already mentioned Arminius being played by Hans von Borsody, who appears in many German productions (but I haven’t seen any, so sorry, can’t provide more information here).

Cameron Mitchell, left, as Consul Aulus Sessina.

His friend, although opposing him as his former commander, is Consul Aulus Sessina, played by the veteran actor Cameron Mitchell and I’ve had a little problem to actually recognize him! But he’s carrying the movie on his shoulders with grace, although in the scene being whipped in the face he’s sooooo overacting it’s actually funny! As for Mitchell, what can I say, his IMDB page says it all for me, he’s been in quite a lot of important productions, either in movies or TV series (and I am little disappointed I can’t get my hands on many of those old series – I’d love to, however…well, that’s a story for another day).

Beba Loncar as Livia

I’ve mentioned Beba Loncar as well, this Serbian beauty started his career in Yugoslavian movies, then moved to German, Italian, Yugoslavian co-production and movies I am not at the moment familiar with. Well, we all learn, don’t we?

And last to mention here is Antonella Lualdi, who plays Tusnelda, Arminius’ love. And she looks terrific! With 106 credits in the IMDB database, she definitely offers quite a lot of movies and TV series to look foor.

The movie is apparently quite obscure, so not much information is available, but I am sure to dig up more…because, and you can trust me on that, we’re not done neither with peplum nor the Italian exploitaiton cinema!

And while its there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-D4suPMd4A

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Rudolf Schütz

A father to two little perpetuum mobiles called kids, Rudolf is a main force behind The Rubber Axe webzine, a bookworm, musick lover and a movie fan - not to mention his virgin forays into the comics and board/card games.

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