By the Gods!

Sabrina Siani, lying on top of Pietro Torrisi, is about to get the point in GUNAN - KING OF THE BARBARIANS (or Invincible Barbarian; 1982)

I finally got a hold of an English copy of this entertainingly trashy 1980s 'Sword & Sorcery' flick starring Pietro Torrisi (as Peter McCoy!). This scene, which is probably the highlight of the entire 90 minutes opus, is anti-climatic. As the devices tortures her, the villains leave which prompts our hero to take action and stop it. They didn't go anywhere with it. Just some scene with nudity and blood. Of all the 1980s PEPLUM movies from Italy this is probably my least favourite. I like both Pietro and Sabrina but many scenes are shot in slow motion and it sorta becomes a chore to sit through. Outer space sequences from British science-fi series SPACE: 1999 were used during the opening 'creation' scenes, and dinosaur scenes from ONE MILLION YEARS B.C.. THRONE OF FIRE (1983), with Torrisi and Siani, is much more fun than this. 

Behind-the Scenes

Robert Taylor reading a tabloid with Tyrone Power (and Linda Christian?) on the cover during the time he filmed QUO VADIS (1951) in Italy.

Anachronism : Hair gel for men

The PEPLUM genre exploded during the 1950s all the way up to the mid-60s and one popular but quickly fading look for men back then was the whole Brylcreem style which was fine on men in contemporary times but totally out of character for stories set in Antiquity. There might have been some product in those days which men used to sculpt their hair but it certainly didn't look like the greased-up Elvis Presley pompadour style.

Richard Egan in ESTHER AND THE KING (1960)

Rory Calhoun in COLOSSUS OF RHODES (1960)...oy!

Victor Mature in THE TARTARS (1961)

Roger Browne in VULCAN - SON OF JUPITER (1963)

Lex Johnson in THE RAPE OF THE SABINES (1962)

Kirk Morris is Brylcreem perfection in MACISTE - AVENGER OF MAYANS (1965). As a bonus, Luciano Marin, on the left, also has an anachronistic hairstyle.

By the Gods!

The climax to THE SACARENS (1963; Il Pirata del Diavolo) starring Richard Harrison, Annamaria Ubaldi and Demeter Bitenc as Rabaneck, the villain.

I have a version no one else had. It's in English with English credits and narration (text). I wonder where it came from or where I got it (from the now defunct ATLAS VISUALS?). At one point I uploaded it to Youtube and now everyone has it. It was very popular (over 700,000 views). This copy is seen below and the last screengrab, while the screengrabs at the top and the third one are taken from a Fan Dub someone made with the audio from this original version. I know this because the distortions in my original English copy, which are quite particular, are heard in the Fan Dub. Oddly enough, even though the image from my copy is very cropped the image from the Fan Dub is also cropped. So, a true widescreen copy of this film is still missing, in English or any other language. I like this movie. Richard is good as usual. A couple of big problems with this movie happen at the end: during the climactic sword fight you clearly see the stuntman doing all the sword action. You can also see the shadows of the columns of the window on the sky/sea background scenery. Oops. The music by Aldo Piga is excellent.

PEPLUM Movie Poster

Original Italian poster of PIA OF PTOLEMY (1959)

I've recently watched this and I have to say it's pretty tame for a Sergio Grieco film. The image was too dark to fully enjoy though.

Identify the movie!

Can you identify the movie from this screengrab?

By the Gods!

Paul Hay in SAMSON AND DELILAH (1987)

Looks familiar? The beginning of this Filipino movie is identical to HERCULES (1958). Suzzanna plays Delilah (below). It has to be seen to be believed! There's a 'love scene' that's gross! Hay was an Australian bodybuilder. During the opening credits, they actually list many bodybuilding contests he won. This was his only film. So weird!

Lucille Ball as...Cleopatra!

Lucille Ball camped it up as Cleopatra on her TV show, The Lucy Show.

Same body, different actors!

I've done 'Same set, different films' or 'Same prop, different films' or 'Same costume, different films' but I've never done 'Same body, different actors!' Haha!

The poster for MACISTE - AVENGER OF THE MAYANS (1965) uses Mark Forest's body, from HERCULES AGAINST THE SONS OF THE SUN (1964), and replaced Mark's head with Kirk Morris'.

By the Gods!

Koloss (named Goliath in the movie) and Kirk Morris (as either Maciste or Hercules) in MACISTE - AVENGER OF THE MAYANS (1965)

Getting a clear copy of this film is hard. I have multiple different versions and they range from poor to acceptable. This movie is a hodge podge of different productions cobbled together: scenes from some from earlier Kirk Morris movie (COLOSSUS & THE HEADHUNTERS 1963) and some from COLOSSUS OF THE STONE AGE (1962; not with Kirk) edited with new scenes like this climax between 'Hercules' and Goliath. I recently got a French copy titled HERCULE CONTRE GOLIATH. A very strange concoction but still watchable for ultra fans of PEPLUM movies like me. Average viewers might be appalled by it. Kirk was still in form when he did this but he sorta was loosing his 'cut' look from his earlier movies. His hair in the new scenes doesn't match the scenes from his earlier production. The title has Maciste in it but he's called Hercules in the movie itself. A very goofy movie.

Lobby Cards Set: GOLIATH AND THE DRAGON (1961)

US lobby cards set of GOLIATH & THE DRAGON starring Mark Forest, Leonora Ruffo, Wandisa Guida and Broderick Crawford. Fantastic set. It nearly has all the best scenes in the movie. The only thing missing is a photo of the statue. One of the best sets. 

Through the years: Saint Sebastian

Saint Sebastian is a famous Christian saint and martyr that inspired countless of artists to paint a portrait of this doomed man. In movies, Sebastian was portrayed a few times in PEPLUM flicks. Here's a quick overview.

Massimo Girotti in FABIOLA (1949) with Henri Vidal

Ettore Manni, as San Sabastino, in REVOLT OF THE SLAVES (1960) with Van Aikens (above, far left)

Leonardo Treviglio in SEBASTIANE (1976), an erotic exploration of the story. An 'art film' more than a straight forward story on the saint.

Michael Biehn in THE MARTYRDOM OF SAINT SEBASTIAN (1984), a French TV movie

By the Gods!

Nicholas Clay and Michael Biehn in THE MARTYRDOM OF ST. SEBASTIAN (1984)

This is an odd film in that it's a German production shot in French with English-speaking actors. It was a TV production. It was quite a daring endeavour back even in the early 1980s. It's one of those stories which starts in contemporary times but ends up in Antiquity. Why is this story-telling plot device so popular with PEPLUM productions? Biehn's other film in 1984: THE TERMINATOR. It was shot in Turkey. The movie is available on Youtube.

Franco Zeffirelli, R.I.P.

Italian director Franco Zeffirelli died at the age of 96. Though he only made 14 movies, his name was well recognized throughout the world. One only needed to say his last name. THE TAMING OF THE SHREW and ROMEO & JULIET defined the late 1960s opulent productions. In a recent interview, Anjelica Huston said she dreamed of going to "... Italy having a romance on set with Franco Zeffirelli." It would have been a bit difficult for her since Zeffirelli came out as gay. His other credits include OTHELO (1986), HAMLET (1990) and JANE EYRE (1996). His career took a hit after directing the contemporary teen romance ENDLESS LOVE (1981), which critics eviscerated. But he'll be forever remembered for those lush epics, a style of filmmaking that's all but gone today.

Zeffirelli and Richard Burton during the filming of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW(1967)

Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting in ROMEO & JULIET (1968). The film was a massive hit!

Judi Bowker and Graham Faulkner in BROTHER SUN, SISTER MOON (1972). Another lush production by Zeffirelli.

Above and below: Zeffirelli's JESUS OF NAZARETH (1977) was one of the best mini-series of the decade. It had an all-star cast. Robert Powell played Jesus.

Different titles: THE AVENGER (1962)

Different titles for THE AVENGER (1962) starring Steve Reeves. This sequel to THE TROJAN HORSE (1961) is an oddity in that there are more English titles available than any other language. One of the problems in finding the versions with their original titles is that the French or Spanish or even the UK broadcast versions have the Italian title during the opening credits. This is a very common issue with PEPLUM movies shown on TV or released on DVDs. Here's a breakdown what's available.

Original Italian title. Translation: THE LEGEND OF AENEAS. This opening credit is also seen in the French, UK broadcast and Spanish releases. I'm certain that the original opening credits in those languages exist but they weren't released on DVDs or broadcasted on TV. The original title for the UK release was WAR OF THE TROJANS.

This is the original US title. Pretty nondescript title if you ask me. This release eschews every aspect of any connection to THE TROJAN HORSE during its opening credit, unlike the Italian one, which prominently shows the Trojan horse, as seen above.

The title for the UK release. This title was most likely designed and edited into the film by the company that released on DVD. It's not the original title seen in theatres during its release in the UK. The font is too modern. 

Title of the old TV broadcast in the US. Very rare. It's only available on one DVD set.

German title. The opening credits are in Italian but the German title was inserted in in lieu of the Italian one.

By the Gods!

Killikrates (John Richardson) tries to get Ayesha (Olinka Berova) to walk in the flames, with 'hero' Philip (Edward Judd) wanting to rescue her in VENGEANCE OF SHE (1968)

How many times have we seen endings like this one? Two men fighting over a beautiful young woman. I like this movie but it's pretty much plotless and it's kinda boring. The beginning really drags (30 minutes in the movie and nothing much has happened yet). But it's still entertaining. There are so many improbabilities in it that it almost becomes a comedy, like Carol (aka Ayesha) walking around the desert in mini skirt and tight top. It's odd that a beautiful woman like her sleepwalks her way around and no one tries to make a pass at her. I guess the improbabilities make it fun to watch.

These screen grabs are from a HD copy. It's so high def that you can clearly see the makeup on Olinka's face. As for Richardson, he clearly stayed too long in the sun. He looked like a strip of overcooked bacon. Again, this makes me laugh since his character is always in some cave or underground setting. And Judd is the unlikeliest hero of all time. His acting is good but he seems befuddled by everything (he also has one of the worst haircuts, or is it a toupee, I've ever seen for a leading man). So many goofy things about it, sorta predictable and kinda slow, and yet I watched it. I love the whole cult/ritual stuff.

Vintage advertising!

Amazing Coca-Cola commercial from the set of SIGN OF THE CROSS (1932), erroneously identified as ANTONY & CLEOPATRA. That's Fredric March, Claudette Colbert, and director De Mille, all enjoying some coke.


THE IRONMASTER, or simply IRONMASTER (1983) was made and released at the height of the VHS explosion so the number of covers aren't lacking. Directed by Umberto Lenzi. Most of the covers utilize the excellent artwork by Renato Casaro. 

Above and below: US releases. I still have the VHS clamshell case above in my collection. In fact, I first saw this movie with this tape.

British VHS release.

 French release.

 Italian VHS cover

 VHS cover from the Netherlands.

Spanish cover