In short these films were made with humor, but with a director who believed in them very much and who loved them. And it was certainly this that made their fortune. The director was called Pietro Francisci, and he was a very simple man.
Our first film of the series, LE FATICHE DI ERCOLE (HERCULES), starred Steve Reeves, and it didn't even cost us 100 million lire. But in America the movie has grossed I don't know how many millions of dollars, ten I think! However, when the idea came to me for this character who was good and strong, for HERCULES, one whom all men in their hearts dream of resembling, none of the producers were inclined to make it, everybody turned up their noses. The one person who had the balls to take the leap and make it was Nello Santi, perhaps because Francisci had kept him going, because they were both veterans of other successful films like ORLANDO E I PALADINI DI FRANCIA (ROLAND THE MIGHTY). Those films, however, were more straightforward adventure films, while here there was a fable for children proposed in a manner more elementary and simple to serve as escapism for adults.
Then, from Hercules to Maciste the step was very short.