CANNON MONTH: Seven Magnificent Gladiators (1983)

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve covered this movie a few times — we did an entire Bruno Mattei week — but as it’s part of Cannon’s releases, here it is again. Oh man — I still can’t believe that the reshoots on this movie ended up being a whole other Hercules movie. There’s also added material in this one, because Cannon Month keeps inspiring me.

What happens when Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragrasso ripoff — remake — The Magnificent Seven/The Seven Samurai with gladiators and barbarians instead of cowboys and, well, samurai? This was originally going to be Hercules, according to Variety, but Luigi Cozzi took over that one and supposedly was brought in to save this one. More about that in a bit.

The plot here — again, it’s the same movie as the other two films that gather seven heroes — is about Nicerote (Dan Vadis, a former member of the Mae West Muscle Review who played Hercules in Hercules the Invincible, Roccia in The Ten Gladiators movies and appeared in several Clint Eastwood movies), a bandit leader and his sorceress mother who makes yearly raids on a peasant village. But this year, Pandora (Carla Ferrigno, who was Athena in Hercules and also in Black Roses) and the women of the village have found a magic sword and go off to hire a hero who can use it and anyone else who can finally end the annual destruction of their homes.

Oh yeah — anyone not worthy of lifting that sword gets burned alive. Choose wisely.

Now, the mighty barbarian Han (Lou Ferrigno) wields the mystical Sword of Achilles and soon assembles a team of gladiators to help him win the day. There’s a gladiator whose life he saves named Scipio (Brad Harris, who played Goliath, Hercules and Samson in past peblum films, as well as Durango and Sabata), Julia (Sybil Danning, the real draw of this film, playing the Harry Luck Magnificent Seven character and as you know, she was in another Seven Samurai remix, Battle Beyond the Stars), Goliath (Emilio Messina, Lepto from The Ten Gladiators), Festo (Giovanni Cianfriglia, who played Superargo in two movies) and more.

This was actually made before Hercules, but Cannon found it unreleasable. They ordered Luigi Cozzi to film new replacement scenes with Ferrigno, but then the decision was made to make a sequel to Hercules and not tell Lou, which still blows my mind. Cozzi told Austin Trunick, who wrote the bible to all things Cannon The Cannon Film Guide Volume 1: 1980-1984, “After the decision to shoot Hercules II, nothing of what had been planned for Seven Magnificent Gladiators was made. Seven Magnificent Gladiators was left exactly as Mattei delivered it and the movie simply was shelved. It was taken out of the vaults only a few years later, when Cannon was in crisis and short on movies, and just release as it had been edited by its director.”

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