Friday, December 13, 2019

By the Gods!

Jeffrey Hunter in A WITCH WITHOUT A BROOM (1967)

A rare movie that's almost impossible to get. It was a Spanish production. The story is about a witch who falls in love with Jeffrey Hunter an they go on some time travelling adventure, popping in at different periods of time, including a moment in Ancient Rome. This part of the movie includes two gladiators fighting each other (below). I searched the internet and the only place which used to sell it was the store at the TROMA site. The movie was released on VHS. There are currently two tapes available at eBay and one is going for $220.00 and the other for $250.00!!! There are clips and the trailer on the internet but it's hard to come by if you don't have a copy of the VHS release.

This is not the first movie with some PEPLUM elements even though it's not a PEPLUM movie per se, like THE 10TH VICTIM (1965). And the 'time travelling' or people in contemporary times ending up in some ancient period is also another popular plot device. Gustavo Rojo also stars.

Addendum: I finally found a full copy.


At the movies...

Drive-in showing THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956) starring Charlton Heston as Moses. Location: Utah, 1958.

BY THE GODS!: THE GOLDEN ARROW Blu-ray


The new blu-ray release of THE GOLDEN ARROW, starring Tab Hunter and Rossana Podesta, is a gorgeous transfer. The movie looks like it was shot yesterday.

More at BY THE GODS!


Thursday, December 12, 2019

By the Gods!

Helga Liné in THE SECRET SEVEN (1963; 1966 US; Gli invincibili sette)

Fun PEPLUM movie. There's nothing much to write about since it's strictly action. Even though it's almost a carbon copy of GLADIATORS 7 (1962), or other Tony Russel movies, in terms of locations and style, it's pretty entertaining on its own. All directed by Alberto De Martino. This one was released theatrically in the US by MGM in 1966, when the genre pretty much dead.

The story, of band of criminals recruited secretly by Tony Russel, to help him get some treasure from the evil ruler, convincingly played by Gérard Tichy (below), is highly improbable (using some catapult contraption), but even so it moves at such a good speed and the brawny action and cast are so game that the improbabilities don't matter much. It's a 'nice' shoot in that most of the action takes place in bright sunny semi-desert settings. Everyone is bronzed. It's the complete opposite of the dreary BATTLE OF THE AMAZONS I reviewed on Monday.


Tony Russel and Helga Liné also starred together in THE SPARTAN GLADIATORS (1964), which is a twin productions with this one. Overall, I prefer SPARTAN. It's a better production but the story and action are better in SECRET SEVEN. The story in SPARTAN GLADIATORS is quite convoluted while everything is pretty much straight-forward in this movie.


Helga looks so much better in this movie than SPARTAN. Less dowdy. She's one of my favourite actresses of the genre and certainly enjoy watching this one because of her presence. As for Tony Russel, well, I like him. He's enjoyable on screen but I have to admit he's not my favourite PEPLUM star. He played the regular amiable man. But after Steve Reeves or even Gordon Scott, Tony cannot overshadow those classic action stars.

The Italian title translates as THE INVINCIBLE SEVEN. PEPLUM titles with numbers, usually indicating the number of 'heroes' in the story, were very popular back then. I pretty much like all of them.

I have a couple of versions of this rare movie, including the Spanish version from which I made a Fan Dub with it (and uploaded to my PEPLUM TV channel).

The 'Secret Seven': Renato Baldini, Livio Lorenzon, Massimo Serato, Tony Russel, Barca Barri, and Jose Marco.


Lobby Cards Set: THE GOLDEN ARROW

US lobby cards set of THE GOLDEN ARROW (1962) starring Tab Hunter and Rossana Podesta. As a collector of movie memorabilia, I'm not a fan of MGM lobby cards. And this set is not exception. Good selection of scenes but the colours are terrible. These cards make the movie look cheap. Cards #2, 6, and 7 are truly ugly. At least there's a nice card with Gloria Milland (number 8).

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

By the Gods!

 Ed Fury in SAMSON AGAINST THE SHEIK (1962)

This movie, or at least this scene from this movie is one of the most polarizing scenes I've uploaded to Youtube. It's very odd. The problem stems from the title. In the original, Fury wasn't Samson but Maciste. The original title was MACISTE CONTRO LO SCEICCO. For the US market, it was re-titled as SAMSON AGAINST THE SHEIK. Nearly every comment goes like this: 1 - It's not Samson. This story is not in the Bible. It is blasphemous. (It's not a Bible story!) 2 - Where's Samson's long hair? (It's not Samson of the Bible) 3 - The wrong time period. (Again, the story is not set in biblical times) 4 - Hollywood sucks! (It's actually an Italian production). 5 - That obelisk is not real! (Really?) Etc. It goes on and on. It's incredible that the basic stuff is so complicated to viewers.

Sometimes I think the internet was a mistake.



Identify the movie!


Can you identify this PEPLUM movie from this screenshot? Haha!

Fans of PEPLUM movies shouldn't have any problems figuring this one out.


It's from THARUS - SON OF ATTILA (1962) starring Jerome Courtland and Lisa Gastoni. 'Anonymous' got it right.


Monday, December 9, 2019

By the Gods!

Paola Tedesco and Lincoln Tate in BATTLE OF THE AMAZONS (1973)

There was a mini PEPLUM explosion in 1973. A spat of genre films, from Europe and the US, were released that year and the next couple of years. Unlike the PEPLUM explosion after the release of HERCULES (1958), this one was short-lived. One of the reasons for this resurgence was the gradually acceptance of nudity. Stories with a plethora of female warriors, often nude and in lesbian sex scenes, was a selling point back then. And one of the movies released during that time was BATTLE OF THE AMAZONS. The story is sorta inconsequential. Something about men being slaves to the Amazons and they plot to escape or an uprising. Is the story believable, of seeing men repeatedly captured and imprisoned by the army of women? Not really. It doesn't show what advantage they have over men, even though one character mentions that they are "stronger than ten men."

Personally, this production is not very memorable. In fact, it's one of the most dreary productions I've ever seen (PEPLUM or not). It must have been an exceptionally cold shoot. Everything is dark and cloudy and dreary. Directed by Alfonso Brescia, who also directed THE MAGNIFICENT GLADIATOR (1964) and a couple of other PEPLUM movies. There are few memorable moments in it. The most memorable one is in the image above: the nude woman rides a horse with her new male mate. Lotsa slow motion bouncing involved. A beautiful poster for the movie has this scene featured. Aside from this scene, the movie is bleak. One of the reasons why few scenes stand out is mainly because most of everything is shot from a distance. The use of widescreen is oddly reminiscent of the 1950s. There are few familiar faces in it. There's Benito Stefanelli and a brief scene with Pietro Torrisi as a male slave. Pietro is uncredited. It's sorta like THOR & THE AMAZON WOMEN (1963) but unlike that over-the-top movie, this one is forgettable.


PEPLUM Movie Posters

US movie poster of BATTLE OF THE AMAZONS (1973; Le Amazzoni - Donne d'amore e di guerra)

It's obvious the woman in the artwork is based on Raquel Welch. No one in the movie looks like her. An AIP release. Compare this to the artwork of the obscure VHS release below.

Friday, December 6, 2019

BY THE GODS!: Guess the PEPLUM movie…


More @ BY THE GODS!

By the Gods!

Ettore Manni, Mimmo Palmara and Fay Spain in HERCULES IN THE CAPTIVE WOMEN (1961)

The story for this film starts off with Hercules and friends witnessing some mysterious message/vision while they're in Greece. Androcles (Ettore Manni) decides to go on a quest to find what's causing the Gods to worry with this ominous warning. Once the story is set in Atlantis, it shifts again to become the one of Hercules searching for Androcles, who's a 'captured' man here. Though the story shifts again throughout the movie, the main quest, of Hercules searching for Androcles, remains. The title refers to the captive women in the movie but there as many captive men in it as well. An unrecognizable Mimmo Palmara plays the 'clone' soldiers of Queen Antinea (Spain). Like the shapeshifter Proteus who's featured in the movie, the focus of the story shifts quite a lot.

Vintage article: Tomorrow's Man featuring Steve Reeves

Article from Tomorrow's Man magazine featuring Steve Reeves in an article on some of his movies. I have to get this issue but it's pricey.



Photos from ATHENA (1953) and HERCULES (1958)


Photos from HERCULES (1958) and THE GIANT OF MARATHON (1959)


Thursday, December 5, 2019

By the Gods!

Piotr Stanislas plays Nero in NERO & POPPEA - AN ORGY OF POWER (1982; Nerone e Poppea)

Written and directed by sleazemeister Bruno Mattei, this entry in the CALIGULA-style debauched PEPLUM movies of the 1970s and 80s is not as famous as other titles but that doesn't mean it's not as sleazy as the others. With murder, orgies, incest, lesbian sex, torture, the burning of Rome, a gruesome castration scene, this low budget epic is not lacking of things questionable. The movie is filled with stock footage from other big PEPLUM films of the the Golden Era including GOLIATH AGAINST THE GIANTS (1961) and THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII (1959), which is always fun to watch with spotting famous actors of the genre make a quick appearance during these scenes. The sets are sorta cheap looking and the acting is negligible even though Stanislas as Nero is interesting. In one scene, he's shown fully nude. There is a story here but I doubt anyone will be paying attention to it. The best thing about the movie is the dubbed dialogue. I have to admit some of it was clever.

"What a shame your head contained the ambitious idea that you can stand in my way!" Agrippina says to the decapitated head of a woman she ordered to be killed.

That line made me lol. Was it originally written this way or the dubbing enhanced it? I dunno. BTW, the voice actors are the same voice actors who worked on PEPLUM movies of the 1950s and 1960s. It's a trip to hear those voices say lurid stuff.

The score is good but the loud dubbing drowns it out. Piotr Stanislaw was credited as Rudy Adams. And in the top photo, on the left of Stanislaw is Vladimir Brajovic, who played Caligula in CALIGULA AND MESSALINA (1981), another Mattei sleazefest. The IMDb listing for this movie is confusing. Since this movie is filled with questionable acts, only recommended to those who aren't easily offended. These movies are a genre unto itself.

Nero lovingly torments his brother, Britannicus (an actor who's not credited)

Lobby Cards Set: ERIK THE CONQUEROR

US lobby cards set of ERIK THE CONQUEROR (1961) starring Cameron Mitchell, Georges Ardisson and Joe Robinson. Good set but missing key elements. It's also missing Joe Robinson. How could they? Haha! Anyway, that's a major oversight. Aside from this, it's fine.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

By the Gods!

Duncan Regehr plays the dominant gladiator in THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII (1984 mini-series)

At over 5 and half hours long, watching the entire series is a chore, or at least to me it is. I'm a massive fan for this stuff and yet I can barely sit through this mini-series from beginning to end. For those who are too young to know, mini-series were like a TV series but condensed in a few long episodes. Sorta bing watching before bing watching was a thing. The first episode is 2 and half hours long and the 2 subsequent episodes are roughly 90 minutes in length. With commercials, the first episode was 3 hours long, and episodes 2 and 3 were 2 hours long each. That's 7 hours.

The production itself is amazing. One of the best looking PEPLUM productions ever filmed. The cast is excellent with Nicholas Clay being one of the few memorable characters. There's also Franco Nero and Marilu Tolo in it. Everyone with clashing accents. Overall the entire production is quite solid but for me nearly all the characters are boring. And since there are gazillion characters to follow (a standard practice in mini-series), it's amazing how this important aspect was overlooked. One of a mini-series' selling point was seeing popular actors, who mainly worked on TV, play roles unlike the one they were famous for. Back then, this tactic worked in attracting viewers but today it's more quaint than anything else. The uncut version has all the annoying stop-frame and fade-to-black outros before commercials were shown. Editing them out would help move things along.

Canadian Duncan Regehr is physically impressive but his 80s look sorta takes the realism away from this elaborate mini-series. Everything looks right (if a bit too clean cut) and then the 'Let's Get Physical' gladiator shows up. The production is not helped with the fact that the gladiator scenes or action scenes are bad, or ineffective. Bad angles, bad editing, and bad composition. The gladiator scenes should be riveting but here they're more clunky than action-packed. A feast for the eyes but hardly compelling.



Different titles: GENTLEMEN OF THE NIGHT

Different titles: today, it's IL VENDICATORE MASCHERATO (1964) starring Guy Madison and Lisa Gastoni. Good movie. Sorta rare or at least seldom seen. Copies out there mainly have the Italian title regardless of country. But here are three examples.

Original Italian title. It translates as THE MASKED AVENGER.

The US title. A somewhat ambiguous title. 

French title, from VHS copy. The official French title is LA VENGEANCE DU DOGE or THE VENGEANCE OF THE DOGE.

Guy Madison and Lisa Gastoni star!

Monday, December 2, 2019

BY THE GODS!: Vintage article on Julie Newmar

Tiny article on Julie Newmar and her small role in SLAVES OF BABYLON (1953)




By the Gods!

The 6 Invincible Gladiators from REVENGE OF THE GLADIATORS (1964)

From left to right: Giovanni Cianfriglia, Franco Daddi, Aldo Canti (below), Aldo Cristiani, Giulio Maculani, and Benito Stefanelli.


The helmet on Franco Daddi tells me that its not the actor but a stuntman. Aldo Canti, the shortest man here, was also a gladiator in the TEN GLADIATORS series. Giovanni Cianfriglia was the favourite stuntman of Steve Reeves, who also acted along with Reeves in some of his movies. A common theme in PEPLUM movies, men teaming up, forming a militia of sorts to help the hero (or are the heroes themselves) in order to overthrow the villain. GLADIATORS 7 (1962), THE SECRET SEVEN (1963), the TEN GLADIATORS movies, all utilized this plot line with numbers in their titles. This team kicks butt just with Giovanni Cianfriglia, Aldo Canti and Benito Stefanelli. They  could have had their own series but they are simply supporting Mickey Hargitay in this production. Cianfriglia, Canti and Stefanelli should have been starring in more PEPLUM movies, not just being supporting actors.

Aldo Cristiani appeared in just a handful of movies, all PEPLUM titles, including JASON & THE ARGONAUTS (1963). Both Franco Daddi and Giulio Maculani had long careers in supporting roles. Maculani appeared in a good number of genre movies. 

Benito Stefanelli is one of my favourite supporting actors and I made a profile of his career here at the blog.

I like the movie. Hargitay, who was so goofy in THE LOVES OF HERCULES (1960), is good in this lead role. It's his best performance in a PEPLUM film but the stars are the gladiators themselves. They should have had more screen time.

I recently acquired a nice copy of this title. In widescreen and Italian. It's still not pristine but it's better than the previous widescreen copy I had and made a Fan Dub with. Should I make a Fan Dub with this copy? I dunno. I also have the 4:3 version with the Drive-in Classics logo. Drive-In Classics was a Canadian TV channel I used to watch on a regular basis before the channel was sold and the format was changed.

Benito Stefanelli and Mickey Hargitay

Mickey Hargitay and Aldo Canti

Aldo Cristiani

Franco Daddi and Giulio Maculani

PEPLUM Movie Posters

US movie poster of CONQUEST (1983)

An Italian - Spanish production. This movie is was released in a limited Blu-ray release (700 or so copies) but the movie is so murky that I doubt the new transfer would make any difference.

Friday, November 22, 2019

PEPLUM Break!


I take a break every two months and my last break was at the end of September. How time flies!

Stay tuned!

I'll leave you now with King Leonidas (Richard Egan) from THE 300 SPARTANS (1962), saying "From this wall, we do not retreat!"

By the Gods!

Gianna Maria Canale, as Sabina, arrives in a Roman litter in SPARTACUS - SINS OF ROME (1953)

I recently acquired a virtually uncut version of this movie, in English no less. Unfortunately the audio is horrible so I need to fix it. An additional 20 minutes over the old version available everywhere (which I uploaded to my PEPLUM TV channel). This scene happens at the beginning. It's so great to view the film the way it was meant to be seen. Directed by Riccardo Freda. One of the best PEPLUM movies ever made.

Massimo Girotti (Spartacus) and Canale during one of the film's best moments. The dialogue in the Italian version and the English dub is sorta different even though both are good. Thanks to the beautiful B&W photography, they both look like Greek statues or deities.


Blog notes

As December is just around the corner, and the year's end will be soon upon us, I feel the need to go over stuff about this blog and other sites, including bythegods.ca, and social media accounts.


PEPLUMTV.com

This blog, peplumtv.com, is healthier than ever before. Just look at the traffic shown in the screenshot below. On average, the blog gets between 1000 to 2000 visits a day. It's been picking up nicely these past few weeks, which makes me sad because I'm taking a break now. 


The blog's lifetime views: roughly 3.5 million views.

Stats for individual pages:


PEPLUM - Heroes & Beefcake - 44590 views

PEPLUM - Babes & Beauties - 35468 views

PEPLUM Introduction - 22581 views

Tragic Stars  - 18515 views

Featured Film - 17241 views

The Real PEPLUM X - 15999 views

Special Features - 15283 views

Titles - 15194 views

30 Greatest Moments of PEPLUM Cinema - 13872 views

Actors/Crew - 7954 views

PEPLUM Cliches -  6936 views

I'm amazed by how popular the Tragic Stars page is. You can navigate through the permanent pages on the left hand side menu.


PEPLUM Xtra

I'll keep posting at this photos only blog.




BY THE GODS! blog



The new BYTHEGODS.ca blog is going smoothly even though the main reason why I created is still in the works. I'll disclose it soon enough, probably before the end of the year.


Youtube channels

I have two Youtube channels. PEPLUM TV and the new one BY THE GODS. PEPLUM TV is more popular than ever. The channel has over 220K subscribers. And it never stops even if I have to keep deleting uploads because of false copyright claims. As for BY THE GODS, well, it's just a back-up channel until my other projects kick in.

Youtube recently stated that they will choose to close channels which aren't 'commercially viable' to them. Since my channel has been demonetized for over a year, Youtube doesn't make any money from it. I'm not saying they will close the channel but it wouldn't surprise me if they did. I don't know if they'll go after BY THE GODS since it's a new channel and still growing. If Youtube decides to close my main channel, here are some of stats for it.

PEPLUM TV lifetime views: 89 million!!! (it's actually higher than that since many videos were removed)

Most popular videos:


THE TRIUMPH OF MACISTE starring Kirk Morris - over 21 million views!



HERCULES AGAINST THE BARBARIANS starring Mark Forest - over 15 million views!



HERCULES, SAMSON & ULYSSES starring Kirk Morris - over 9 million views!


These are the top 3 only. There are other videos in the millions of views as well. It would be sad if Youtube closed the channel but there's nothing much I can do about it. One thing's for sure: PEPLUM movies are POPULAR!

I haven't done a Fan Dub since the channel was demonetized. I have very little time on my hands these days but I'll try to go back to it eventually. But I admit that I've been burned one too many times: other people or channels stealing my work and profiting from it. It's all so disheartening.

The BY THE GODS channel is a back up channel, in case anything happens to the main one. It's also be part of the upcoming, unannounced project associated with the BYTHEGODS.ca blog.


Social media accounts

The Twitter and Facebook accounts of PEPLUM TV are still going strong. You can view the stats on their pages. I enjoy keeping them up to date but my main focus is really the blogs and Youtube channels. But there are some really amazing friends at the Facebook account. There's more engagement there than the blog itself.

Anyway, I'll keep you updated on new projects and things in the works. I'm so busy right now that I have to find time to do just the smallest of things.