Rome Against Rome

Rome Against Rome (1964)

Rome Against Rome

Rome Against Rome‘ is an Italian movie directed by Giuseppe Vari and was released in 1964. It has also been released under the alternative titles of ‘Roma Contro Roma‘ (the original Italian title), ‘War of the Zombies‘, and ‘Night Star: Goddess of Electra‘.

Zombies and roman soldiers sounds like an interesting enough combination right?

Part of the peplum genre of film – Italian produced swords-and-sandals type movies that acted as an odd precursor to the spaghetti western – Rome Against Rome (aka War of the Zombies) deals with a Roman civil war where John Barrymore leads an army of rebels whose ranks have been bolstered by hordes of zombies against the oppressive Roman empire.

Simple enough a narrative, but sadly the movie does not have much going for it.

While the depiction of zombies has a nice tie to the creatures from Haitian folklore (with a blood ceremony being necessary to bring the dead out of their graves) the zombies themselves are largely agents of boredom. There is no makeup or cinematic structure to set the “zombies” apart from the rest of the soldiers in the movie, thus making the fact that there are zombies in the movie a hard fact to prove.

Joining in a grand tradition of terrible zombie films, the zombies get precious little screen time in Rome Against Rome, meaning that its new title is actually more accurate than the more exploitation friendly War of the Zombies…a thoroughly misleading title. I perfectly understand that the mere mention of zombies can be used to sell units in the same way the promise of a lesbian kiss can – I’m looking at you trailer for Black Swan – but a movie that sells tickets is not always a good movie.

Rome Against Rome

At least the sets are good

There are hardly any moments of pleasure to be found in Rome Against Rome. Some impressive attention has been given to the set on a few occasions, but that is about it.

The most interesting thing is the red color palette the movie has; while there seems to be no reason for the thematic purpose of it other than maybe the simple fact that blood is red, movies that look as red as this one does are few and far between so it might be worth it simply for that. Oh and you get to see a skeleton at one point, but that occurs nearly forty minutes into the film and the only reason you are likely to see it is if you just happen to wake up during that section of the movie after falling asleep during the first ten minutes.

Rome Vs Rome film

Even with John Barrymore having a fine nine-course dinner made from all the scenery he is chewing, the movie does not give itself a reason to be recommended or even exist. It feels depressing being so pessimistic about a movie, but Rome Against Rome is not doing itself any favors. The movie is limp and lifeless, dull and dreary, a red-soaked sponge of half-baked ideas with just as much charisma.

Maybe we are wrong and this is actually a great fact-based period drama of the Roman Empire’s little known civil war involving zombies…..but we doubt it.

Anyone who find any sort of pleasure in viewing this travesty needs some serious time to consider that they may be lacking in basic senses of decency and taste.

And if you are filled with enough self-hate that you want to subject yourself to the full movie, then you will find a link below.

Watch ‘Rome Against Rome’ below:


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Find out more about the soundtrack for ‘Rome Against Rome‘ by legendary peplum composer Roberto Nicolosi

Written by: JJ Perkins