Exploitation film legend Roger Corman had had great success with his women in prison pictures ("The Big Doll House", "The Big Bird Cage", etc.) and was looking for a fresh spin to put on the formula. It was his head of development Frances Doel who came up with the idea to transplant it to ancient Rome, and the screenplay was written by John William Corrington and Joyce Hooper Corrington, whose other credits include "The Omega Man", "Boxcar Bertha", "Battle for the Planet of the Apes", and Corman's own "Von Richthofen and Brown". The result is an engagingly trashy variation on the classic gladiator film. Stars Margaret Markov and Pam Grier had previously been paired in "Black Mama, White Mama", and they re-team in a story about a disparate group of women, taken from their homes around the globe by the Romans, thrown together, and graduating from slaves to full blown gladiator women. As befitting Corman's style, there is undeniable exploitation here - the attractive female cast go full frontal for us in one memorable and enticing scene - yet at the same time it's also empowerment, featuring strong female characters who ultimately are going to stand up for themselves and rebel against their sleazy male captors. Debuting director Steve Carver, who went on to direct "Big Bad Mama", "Capone", and "Fast Charlie... the Moonbeam Rider" for Corman, keeps this well staged, visually impressive movie humming along nicely. The widescreen cinematography is courtesy of Aristide Massaccesi, better known as Joe D'Amato, and the credited editor (on American prints) is Joe Dante, another of Corman's many successful alumni (the movie was actually cut in Italy; Dante merely did a final bit of trimming). Francesco De Masi supplies the wonderful, rousing music. And former actor Mark Damon, who went on to marry co-star Markov, is the producer. What makes "The Arena" so enjoyable is the fact that the actresses are so fun to watch. The cast also includes cult performers Paul Muller (as Lucilius) and Rosalba Neri (as Cornelia), who can be seen together in "Lady Frankenstein" as well. The final 20 minutes or so feature a great deal of action, and the movie begins with a bang as well, with an efficient, straightforward story with moments both comical and dramatic. It definitely comes recommended. Seven out of 10.
Action / Adventure
Action / Adventure
Two thousand years ago, the people of Rome are so blasée, so used to violence, that entertaining them becomes a political problem. Someone suggests, after a hectic girl fight in a kitchen between a Nubian and a Viking slave, as a joke, that they should fight in the arena, instead of male gladiators. The idea is approved, though - and a female "Spartacus" theme follows.
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
October 28, 2019 at 06:52 AM