Goliath (Mark Forest) enters Hades on a mission. He battles Cerberus the fire breathing three headed dog and retrieves the blood diamond. Before he leaves he is attacked by a giant furry bat creature. He kills the bat creature and makes his way out of Hades. Once he has the diamond he returns it to the goddess of vengeance.
While Goliath is battling demons his brother Illus (Sandro Moretti) sneaks into the palace of King Eurystheus (Broderick Crawford) to see his lover Thea (Federica Ranchi). Goliath has a hatred for Thea, believing that her family killed his family and has forbidden Illus to see her. Illus loves her anyway. While sneaking in to the palace Illus is caught. King Eurystheus is trying to gain alliances with other rulers to attack Thebes and defeat Goliath. Knowing that Goliath is in Hades, and assuming he will fail, Eurystheus tells the others that Goliath is dead. When word comes that Goliath is actually alive Eurystheus tells everyone that he is not afraid of Goliath. To prove it he will kill Goliath’s brother Illus in an exhibition the next day.
Eurystheus is talked out of killing Illus by Tyndaros (Giancario Sbragia) who says he has a better plan. Eurystheus has a slave girl Alcinoe (Wandisa Guida) help Illus escape. Alcinoe then convinces Illus that Goliath doesn’t want him to have Thea because he is actually in love with her. She says she will give him a potion that will make him forget about Thea. When Goliath saves her life by battling a bear she abandons her mission. Eurystheus sends another slave to give Illus the potion. In reality she is giving him poison. Before Goliath takes the poison the goddess of the wind relays a message from Thea about the poison.
Illus once again races to the palace to be with Thea and is once again captured. This time Eurystheus is determined to kill Illus as part of a public spectacle by having his head crushed by an elephant. Goliath once again must save his brother.
Goliath’s wife Deianira (Leonora Ruffo) ends up taken by Nessus the Centaur (Claudio Undari) to Eurystheus who uses her as bait to draw Goliath into the realm of the dragon where a battle to the death ensues.
“Goliath and the Dragon” was released in 1960 and was directed by Vittorio Cottafavi. It is a Sword and Sandal film and is a cut and paste version of the Italian peplum film “La vendetta di Ercole”. At one time the film was also called “Hercules Revenge” but I’m not entirely sure where that name came from. I’m pretty sure the Italians didn’t name it that. It could be that the American version was called “Hercules Revenge” however Universal had first dibs on the Hercules name so enter Goliath, and enter AIP.
In 1959 American International Pictures released a movie called “Goliath and the Barbarians”. They acquired the film when the Italian film makers ran out of money while making it. AIP, of course, Americanized the names and dubbed it into English. To capitalize on the film they had planned on creating a sequel of sorts called “Goliath and the Dragon”. They had a script but the project fell through. Instead they bought the rights to the existing Italian film called “La vendetta di Ercole” and, with a few magical tricks, turned Hercules into Goliath. In addition they added a dragon so they could use their already chosen name “Goliath and the Dragon”. Some of the dragon is stop motion and some a giant puppet head. The dragon scenes only appear in the Americanized film.
The introduction to the movie calls the hero Emilius and then says he was called Goliath. I don’t know where the Emilius came from other than it is a Roman name. In “La vendetta di Ercole” the hero is called Ercole not Emilius. Even though the movie is called “Goliath and the Dragon”, the dragon is not the main part of the film. He appears for a few seconds in the beginning and is not seen again until the end of the movie. The movie is supposed to be in color but the color is really washed out. Most of it looks a pale green.
As with a lot of sword and sandal movies that have been Americanized some of the character names have been changed depending on which version of the film you are watching. Also dubbing can be strange if any of the actors are American. Broderick Crawford’s lines were dubbed into Italian and then re-dubbed into English by someone else when AIP altered the plot of the film. One other change was the relationship between Goliath and Illus. In the original film they are father and son but in the new and questionably improved version they are brothers.
Regarding the movie itself, the story is basically good but it is a little scattered. Since the movie was changed to add the dragon the plot was shifted a little and scenes added to the point where the movie is not totally cohesive. Characters are added and dropped and sections of the movie plod along. The monsters are stupid but they are the best part of the movie. Who doesn’t love a fire breathing three headed dog or a giant furry bat creature? The puppet dragon fits right in.