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Film / Colossus and the Headhunters

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Colossus and the Headhunters is a 1963 Italian Sword and Sandal movie in the same vein as the earlier Hercules movies. Bulky hero Maciste (whom the titular Colossus presumably refers to) helps lead a party of survivors from his tribe's homeland, which is destroyed in a volcanic eruption. The survivors float to an island where they're embroiled in a fight between two warring nations, one of which is dubbed the Headhunters. Central to this conflict is a coup attempt by the evil Kermes and his fight against Queen Amoa. Can Maciste help resolve the situation?

Trivia note: The film Hercules Against the Moon Men was also about Maciste, until the English dubbing crew decided to capitalize on the bigger name recognition of Hercules.

For tropes and specifics relating to the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, please go to the episode recap page.

Colossus and the Headhunters contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Girl: Amoa is good with a short sword, and presumably with a longbow as well; however, she's still susceptible to the Standard Female Grab Area.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: Kermes tries to force Amoa to marry him at the climax of the movie after she's rejected his offer to serve as a puppet queen.
  • Annoying Arrows: Maciste is hit with an arrow just below his collarbone. He feigns death, then sits up and just yanks the arrow from his flesh. Afterwards, the wound seems nothing more than a minor annoyance and barely bleeds, although a faint mark can be seen on his chest throughout the film.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: This is arguably what the screenwriter was going for with Maciste and Amoa, but the actors don't have the skill or chemistry to sell it.
  • Choke Holds: Maciste's preferred method of dispatching foes.
  • *Click* Hello: The bow-and-arrow variant, as Maciste is greeted by Queen Amoa thusly. He immediately calls her out on it; turns out that, due to the travails of her people, she's quite paranoid but eventually friendly.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Kermes imprisoned and tortured the King, betrayed his country to a group of savage headhunters, slaughtered hundreds, and then kidnapped the Queen... only to reveal that his end goal is simply to become her advisor? Way to aim low, villain!note 
  • Deadpan Snarker: Maciste gets a few good lines in.
    Amoa: The gods foretold you would come, and—
    Maciste: Ha! The gods say all kinds of things. They're not all true.
  • Effeminate Misogynistic Guy: Kermes is beanstalk-thin and campy to the extreme. His villainous Motive Rant to Queen Amoa also involves him insisting that a woman's "fragile shoulders" can't possibly bear the burdens of rulership.
    Kermes: Maintaining a throne demands courage, wisdom, bravery, and cruelty... and all the other virtues that only... a MAN could possibly possess.
  • Holding the Floor / Leave the Camera Running: Milana's excruciatingly long dance to stall for time. At least in this film, there's a plot reason for it.
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: When Maciste initially refuses to get involved with the local politics, Amoa tells her maidservant that she hates him. She then immediately declares that she's in love with him. As noted below, the actress doesn't really sell it.
  • Made of Iron: Colossus/Maciste takes an arrow to the upper chest/shoulder, but seems to walk it off after a few minutes. That said, it does seem to be bothering him in the scene where he meets Amoa.
  • Never Found the Body: When Amoa tells Maciste that her father went missing during the headhunters' invasion and is presumed dead, Maciste is savvy enough to ask whether anyone saw the body. Later, when Maciste and Ariel are infiltrating the ruined city, he decides to investigate the dungeon first on the off chance that the king is being held there. He is, of course, proven right.
  • Non-Action Guy: For much of the movie, Colossus/Maciste is rather unheroic; indeed, at first he refuses to get involved in the local conflict. Admittedly, it's because he feels a responsibility to the refugees he's shepherding, and he does voice a desire to return and help the locals once the refugees are safe. However, he doesn't actually tell Amoa this, leaving her to think he's just a coward.
  • The Prophecy: Amoa tells Maciste of a prophecy that when misfortune befalls her people, a brave man will come from the sea to aid them. As Maciste has just happened to arrive on a boat along with his friends, she's certain that he's the fulfillment of this prophecy.
  • Refusal of the Call: Maciste initially refuses Amoa's request to help her people recapture their city, stating that he doesn't want his companions to be sucked into a war that isn't any of their business. That said, as soon as he hears the gong sounding from Amoa's camp, he and Ariel rush back to the fight.
  • Satellite Love Interest:
    • Amoa is almost certainly destined to be Maciste's lover. She doesn't sell it very well, however.
    • Prince Ariel's girlfriend Asmyn also qualifies; she has literally zero character.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Maciste decides to leave as soon he learns about the war between Amoa's tribe and the headhunters, reasoning that he doesn't want his people to get sucked into a fight that isn't any of their business. He does tell Prince Ariel that he wants to return and aid Amoa once their tribe is safe.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Amoa and Maciste spend most of their early screentime together arguing and threatening each other prior to Amoa falling suddenly and madly in love with him.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Amoa is strong enough to hold her own in a sword fight, but can't even pull away from one middle-aged man holding her forearm.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Amoa tends to do this when reciting her dialogue. A lot.
  • We Can Rule Together: As it turns out, this is Kermes' big plan; he wants to put Amoa on the throne and serve as her advisor (i.e., he wants Amoa as a puppet and plans to be The Man Behind the Woman).
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: Amoa threatens to execute Maciste and his companions when he refuses to help her reconquer her tribe's city. He instantly calls her bluff, and she backs down.
    Amoa: I could have you executed, and your people too.
    Maciste: The daughter of a king as wise as your father wouldn't give such an order.
    Amoa: [Beat] Yes, I know, but you're our last hope!