JOE D’AMATO WEEK: The Arena (1974)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Back on January 28, 2019, we wrote about this movie but now it’s time for Joe to take over B&S About Movies and we’re here for all of it. Here’s The Arena!

The assistant director of Johnny Got His Gun, as well as the director of Big Bad MamaLone Wolf McQuaid and Eye for an Eye, Steve Carver directed this exploitation roughie, where slave girls become gladiators and rise against their masters. But hey — it has Pam Grier in it! And you know why it’s probably so sleazy? I blame the director of cinematography — Joe D’Amato!

Actually, in Italy, they said that this movie was made by Michael Wotruba. You know who that is? That’s right, the same man who is Joe D’Amato, Aristide Massaccesi. In the book Erotismo, orrore e pornografia secondo Joe D’Amato, the man of many names said that Italian producer Franco Gaudenzi didn’t trust Carver, who was sent by Roger Corman, so he sent D’Amato to help as needed. Carver did the talking, D’Amato did the action and we have a movie.

Speaking of Corman, he offered this movie to Martin Scorsese after Boxcar Bertha. Let that rest in your brain for a bit. Instead of making Mean Streets, Scorsese would have been working with Raf Donato. Or David Hills. Or maybe Boy Tan Bien.

In the time after Spartacus, in the ancient Roman town of Brundusium, a group of slave girls is sold to Timarchus (Daniele Vargas, Eyeball), a promoter who puts together the fights in the Colosseum. After the girls engage in a fight, she gets a big idea: make them fight to the death.

That’s when Mamawi (Pam Grier) and Bodicia (Margaret Markov) — who had just teamed up in Black Mama, White Mama — decide to team up again and get out alive. Rosalba Neri (Lady Frankenstein herself!, as well as Lucifera: Demon Lover and Amuck!) is in this too!

Markov met her husband, producer Mark Damon, while making this movie, but couldn’t date until production was over, as director Steve Carver had made a rule regarding cast and crew intermingling.

Your enjoyment of this will depend on how much you enjoy watching women battle as gladiators. I wrote that a while ago and come on, everybody loves that. They didn’t call this movie Naked Warriors for nothing.

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