Hi, Lac qui Parle. Here's a link to a thread I posted here compiling a number of peplum and fusto movies I have. Granted, I still have a great deal more to write reviews for, but there's a nice expanse here of camp and serious filmmaking on the part of Italian artisans. http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=7317.0
Yes, there a number of campy entries that have a charm about them that only adds to the films enjoyment. There are also a fair number of big budget peplum and fusto movies that deserve a wider audience such as GOLIATH & THE SINS OF BABYLON aka MACISTE, THE GREATEST HERO IN THE WORLD, THE GIANT OF MARATHON, TERROR OF THE BARBARIANS, ROMULUS & REMUS and THE TROJAN HORSE are a few of the bigger Italian productions. You'll notice a number of spaghetti western stalwarts in many of these films including Guiliano Gemma and Gian Maria Volonte among them. What is considered low budget and big budget should not hinder ones enjoyment for a film. Too many times people seem to forget that foreign films did not have the enormous amount of monies afforded US productions. Yet many times these (and other films) made up for what they lacked with funds in sheer imagination and creativity. However, the films I listed above have obviously had a good amount of money lavished on them. If not, than those filmmakers truly did a lot with less.
I like to refer to the historical sword and sandal films as peplum and the mythological superhero movies as fusto (Italian for muscleman). The fusto films tend to be the campy ones but then some of the effects, such as some of the hydraulically controlled monstrosities are impressive for the time in which they were created....and then there are those that are not.
Also, the spelling is M-A-C-I-S-T-E not Machiste whoever spelled it in that fashion although phonetically, that is how you would pronounce the name. Back in the 60s there was a syndicated television program in America entitled 'The Sons of Hercules' wherein certain movies were edited and titles changed as well added opening narration to figure in the title of the tv show. Maciste was strictly an Italian creation and his name was often removed from film titles (although some films escaped with the name remaining in the dubbing) as most Americans would most likely not know who Maciste was.