Friday, May 22, 2020

By the Gods!

Gianna Maria Canale and Geneviève Grad in CONQUEROR OF CORINTH (1961; aka THE CENTURION.)

It's one of those 'well that escalated quickly' scenes. Grad brings news to Canale who then charges after her with a knife after hearing of the news. Brief but great scene. Were the actions of Canale's character justified?






Identify the movie

Can you identify the movie by this big battle scene?

Lobby Cards Set: HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD (1961)

US lobby cards set of HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD (1961) starring Reg Park, Christopher Lee and Leonora Ruffo. Good set. It could have been a 'great' set had it been in color. Card #6 is a behind-the-scenes photo. I really like #3, #4 and especially #8.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

By the Gods!

Mimmo Palmara and Brigitte Skay in ISABELLA - DUCHESS OF THE DEVILS (1969)

One of those raunchy, extremely politically incorrect late 1960s and 1970s genre movie with plenty of female nudity. The transition from beefcake of the 1950s up to the mid-1960s to soft-core stuff with simulated sex scenes, including the lesbian kind, is quite an interesting thing to witness. In all of his PEPLUM movies, Mimmo never had a 'love scene' or 'sex scene' and here he is now, a brief preamble to such a scene. I posted an image from this scene at PEPLUM Xtra with the two in the throws of passion. As expected, it doesn't end well for perennial bad boy Mimmo.

Behind-the-Scenes

Yul Brynner and Charlton Heston in costume take a nice photo during the making of THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956)

Different titles:HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD (1961)

Today, it's HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD (1961) starring Reg Park, Christopher Lee, Leonora Ruffo and a host of Italian actors. Pretty straight forward translation/variations. Nothing too wild. A good selection compared to most PEPLUM movies. Of the usually top languages, only the Spanish title is missing.

Original Italian title, which translates as HERCULES IN THE CENTER OF THE EARTH. No mention of vampires or spooks.


The US version. Distributors in the US sold its horror aspects up front.


The English title for the UK. A literal translation of the Italian one.


The German titles emphasizes the vampires. It translates as VAMPIRES AGAINST HERCULES.


The French version also refers to vampires. Unlike the German title, the French has HERCULES AGAINST THE VAMPIRES.

Reg Park as Hercules


Monday, May 18, 2020

By the Gods!

Chelo Alonso and Mark Forest in SON OF SAMSON (1960; Maciste nella valle dei Re)

I'm always amazed by how many movies of the PEPLUM genre got away with things which most big studio films from Hollywood couldn't, which I admit is part of their appeal. The entire scene is very sexy. Flesh everywhere. Chelo gives one of her signature dances while beefy and bronzed Mark  watches. IMO, it's a stand-out scene of the genre. In fact, the entire movie is a stand-out of the genre. It had a fairly good budget and aside from a few moments of penny pinching filmmaking, the movie itself looks great. The whole genre can be summarize with this scene: sexy.

I got this print from the treasure trove I mentioned a few times before. The print itself is not perfect but it's the best print available anywhere and I'll be making a Fan Dub of it (the print is not in English). The image is so clear you can see the nail heads in the set (just above the PEPLUMTV.com logo). But no one was paying attention to that.

Fun fact: this was the first Maciste movie since the silent era. It was a hit and a boatload of other Maciste movies followed.


BY THE GODS!: THE REVOLT OF THE SLAVES (1960) Blu-ray review



Quick overview of the Blu-ray release

At BY THE GODS!

PEPLUM Movie Poster

Italian poster of COLOSSUS OF THE STONE AGE (1962; aka Fire Monsters vs the Son of Hercules)

Great poster. I want it!

PEPLUM TV Official store




Friday, May 15, 2020

By the Gods!

Sylvia Lopez as Queen Omphale in HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959)

One confusing aspect of HERCULES UNCHAINED happens at the very beginning of the movie. We see a young man (uncredited actor) who tells Omphale that her guards are bringing a new man who's lying on a wooden gurney. Omphale leaves the worried young man to inspect the new man brought to her. The new man is played by Fabrizio Mioni, who played Jason in HERCULES (1958), in a cameo of sorts.

Anyway, this how Omphale operates. Her soldiers bring handsome men to her care, she has fun with them and then she dispatches them after a new man is brought to her attention. 35 minutes into the movie, Hercules (Steve Reeves) is brought to her (after he drank from the well of forgetfulness), and Fabrizio Mioni is killed, replaced by Hercules.

The whole thing is sorta confusing, more so as Omphale wears the same (anachronistic) clothes during the two scenes new men are brought to her. The only way to tell the difference is at the beginning Omphale is writing something on a tablet and during the second instance when Hercules in carried into her palace, and Fabrizio is killed, she's petting a baby lion.


First instance:


The young man informs Omphale of the new arrival. The young actor is uncredited. In this scene, Omphale is writing on a tablet. Below: the new man is played by Fabrizio Mioni, who was Jason in HERCULES (1958). This is a cameo of sorts.



Second instance:



The second man (Fabrizio, he's wearing the same costume as when he was brought in) tells Omphale her soldiers are bringing a man, who happens to be Hercules (last image). In this scene, Omphale is petting a baby lion.


She eventually leaves Fabrizio to inspect her 'new' lover (below): Steve Reeves as Hercules.


I believe this confusion was done intentionally, to show how everything operates like clockwork, but it's still confusing. Had she worn a different costume during the second instance, it would have appeared new but while watching the movie, when the second instance happens, you think the film is repeating itself since both scenes are so identical. It doesn't help that the first actor is uncredited. Great film regardless.

At the movies...

THE EGYPTIAN (1954) playing at the Fox Phoenix cinema in Phoenix, Arizona. 

PEPLUM Rules

I've been doing this series for years now. Here are some new ones. 









Wednesday, May 13, 2020

BY THE GODS!: Where’s Rosalba Neri in HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD?

Rosalba is credited and yet not in the movie.


(this was supposed to have been posted on Monday!)

By the Gods!


CLEOPATRA (1934) starring Claudette Colbert, Warren William and Henry Wilcoxon. Directed by Cecil B. DeMille.

The film starts with this startling scene.

The 1930s saw very few PEPLUM movies, well, compared to previous years during the silent era and mostly compared to the upcoming 1950s and 1960s. There were a few here and there, with the two biggest and splashiest being SIGN OF THE CROSS (1932) and CLEOPATRA (1934), both Cecil B. DeMille productions. Though both movies were box office hits, their successes didn't spur a trend of PEPLUM productions. These movies were costly to make and studios back then weren’t too keen in splurging big budgets for Sword & Sandal epics. CLEOPATRA was the last epic made by De Mille set in Antiquity until SAMSON AND DELILAH (1949), 15 years later.

Claudette Colbert as Cleopatra. Lush production.

I won’t summarize the story since everyone is pretty much familiar with the story of Cleopatra, including her tragic end.

Everything about it is lush and luxurious. It looks like a million bucks.

Like all DeMille movies, the direction is always assured and solid. It rarely wavers into pointless scenes and the sets, composition, framing, etc, are all beautifully done. But some of the edits are odd, mostly due to the period the movie was made. In one scene, we see Mark Antony standing at the wall and then it fades into a different angle of the same scene. No one does this today. A fade out like this usually means some time has passed but the moment is the same continuation. The soundtrack is another weak aspect. There are long moments without music, or even any atmospheric or background noise. It makes for a quiet movie. Again, this is mostly due to the style of filmmaking of the period.

Mark Antony (Henry Wilcoxon) greets Cleopatra (Colbert). This scene obviously inspired the scene between Hercules and Omphale in HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959).

Some of the acting is more stylized of the era. I won’t fault the movie for this but some of the ‘boisterous’ acting is a bit hard to take. The same thing can be said with the dialogue or reading. And to make things more colourful, with clashing accents, of course.

Only the battle scene, at the 83 minute mark, looks rushed and sorta cheap (a mix of old stock footage edited with quick shots of the movie’s actors). Some shots during this scene don’t make any sense at all (see below)

An incoming army on horseback approaches another army in the foreground. The men in the foreground look tiny compared to the men on horseback. A surprisingly ineffective shot from the usually reliable DeMille.

Caesar (Warren William) and Cleopatra (Colbert) in a tender moment. Notice the scratches on their faces. The HD print is an improvement but it still shows its age.

The only issue I have with this 100 minute epic is the pacing. It’s very languid and relaxed. This is just me but this movie puts me to sleep, not because I find it boring (DeMille movies are never boring) but because the pacing is so casual and easy, along with the quiet soundscape mentioned above, and before you know it my eyes get heavy and sleepy. In comparison, this sleep-inducing effect I experienced while watching this movie doesn’t happen when I watch SIGN OF THE CROSS. It’s an odd thing to point out but I just can’t help it. It has a dream-like pacing that puts me to sleep.

Though not as 'scandalous' as SIGN OF THE CROSS, this movie has some startling scenes of quasi-nudity or faux nudity.

Claudette is not nude but she looks like she's nude from the daring costume and angle.

A cat fight is interrupted by a 'lion-tamer' in a daring costume.

I have the regular and the High Definition versions of this.

Though very grainy in parts, and the age of the film is still visible throughout, the high definition version is a vast improvement over previous releases. It’s quite stunning in some scenes, even in black & white. You can see all the details of the elaborate costume, some of which are works of art unto themselves.

A lush Hollywood recreation of the life of Cleopatra that only DeMille could have done. If I had to choose between SIGN OF THE CROSS and CLEOPATRA, I would go with SIGN OF THE CROSS. It's wild!

A solid 7.5 out of 10.


Same set, different films


Same set, with some obvious changes (and seen from a different angle). Both are DeMille movies. Above: SIGN OF THE CROSS (1932). Below: CLEOPATRA (1934).


Behind-the-Scenes

Henry Wilcoxon and Claudette Colbert take a cigarette break during the filming of CLEOPATRA (1934)

Monday, May 11, 2020

By the Gods!

Gordon Mitchell is put to the test, fighting with cannibal pygmies (?) in THE GIANT OF METROPOLIS (1961)

This is actually a minor PEPLUM cliché. Ok, maybe not the cannibal part (even though there are other movies with this aspect) but the Hero fighting off a bunch of shorter adversaries. During Ancient Rome, when gladiators were a thing, there were fights with small men fighting each other or one taller target, which the crowds apparently loved.

PEPLUM Movie Poster

French poster of SAMSON & THE SLAVE QUEEN (1963)

Sums up the movie in one image. Maciste vs Zorro. Fun movie.

PEPLUM TV Official store




Friday, May 8, 2020

By the Gods!

Mylène Demongeot and Steve Reeves in the conclusion of THE GIANT OF MARATHON (1959)

Don't get me wrong, I like this movie. It's one of Steve's top movies. But it does have a fair share of liabilities. Not big ones but more like pet-peeves for me. In this scene, after battling everyone and killing the villain, Steve's hair is perfectly coiffed. In contrast, Mylene's hair looks appropriately disheveled. Yes, details like this irk me. Also, and this is just my opinion, but Steve looks very tired in this movie. He worked non-stop after the success of HERCULES (1958) and it's sorta showed on his face.

Steve made five movies after HERCULES: HERCULES UNCHAINED, THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII, GOLIATH & THE BARBARIANS, THE WHITE WARRIOR, and this one. They were all made or released in Italy in 1959.  So, all these movies were green-lighted even before HERCULES hit theatres in the US (Summer 1959). He became the highest paid actor in Europe for a while. There was obviously a buzz about him even before he became known in the US as Hercules.

Now I don't want to start any rumours, but from what I've read Mylene and Steve didn't get along.

Sightings

It's always fun spotting future PEPLUM stars in roles prior to becoming stars. Here's one of such sighting: here's Pietro Torrisi in a brief appearance in SAMSON & THE 7 MIRACLES OF THE WORLD (1961). I've watched this movie countless of times and yet I never noticed him. In the US version, the image skips during this very moment. I only noticed him while looking at new print I acquired from the treasure throve I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. Pietro appears briefly in another shot and that was it for him. He also had many such brief appearances in other movies, including CALIGULA (1979). Maybe I should do a compilation.

Lobby Cards Set: VIKING WOMEN AND THE SEA SERPENT (1957)

Original US lobby cards set of VIKING WOMEN AND THE SEA SERPENT (1957). Good set. The movie itself is in Black & White and this color set makes the movie look interesting. I usually like Black & White movies but this low budgeted one would have actually benefited had it been in color. It's still fun to watch as is. It's also known as SAGA OF THE VIKING WOMEN AND THEIR VOYAGE TO THE WATERS OF THE GREAT SEA SERPENT.