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.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

By the Gods!

Tere Velázquez and Lex Johnson become lovers in THE RAPE OF THE SABINES (1962)

A unique movie in that it's a Mexican production aping an Italian PEPLUM movie. It's an odd production with some merit but it's more of a curio than anything else. The movie is awkward in that it's really self-conscious that it's mimicking a genre popular in a different culture. As a facsimile, it's pretty good but once you look beyond the obvious appearance of it all, the movie has little to offer. To the uninitiated, the movie might appear to be a typical PEPLUM but to me as a die-hard fan, the movie lacks a plethora of stuff which automatically tells me this ain't the real thing. It's shot in 'Mexiscope' which is 1.37:1, or nearly 4:3, not widescreen, the preferred aspect ratio of European productions. This observational point is easy to notice but other missing elements which give it away, like the same props seen in almost every Italian movie, such as the same cauldron. Missing are the same supporting actors or extras who are rarely credited, and of course the familiar locations, like the Monte Gelato waterfall.

The script follows the classic story: Romulus and Remus fight (briefly), and the victorious Romulus decides to establish Rome but they need women so they kidnap the women from the nearby Sabine tribe. The story shows how the women eventually become the wives of their new husbands. It's a turgid sort of a 'sex comedy', focused mainly on two couples: Lex Johnson and Tere Velázquez, and Wolf Ruvinskis and Lorena Velázquez. Wolf Ruvinskis acted in many Mexican productions, including popular wrestling movies. The two Velázquez also worked extensively in the Mexican movie industry. To set the two women apart: Tere is the dark haired one and Lorena is the lighter haired one (Lorena's hair actually abruptly changes to different shade throughout the movie). And Lex Johnson, an American, acted in just a couple of movies and TV production. This was his first starring role. He sorta fits the genre, like Ed Fury did.

The production is very ordinary, TV-like. The exterior sets look like an unused amusement park. The women's costumes are flashy, maybe a bit too flashy. And the men sport the typical tiny tunic/peplum popular in those movies back then, and since most of the men are very fit, the little clothes they wear suits them. There is some narration. The man who narrates sounds like Orson Welles.

It's known under different titles: THE RAPE OF THE SABINES, THE RAPE OF THE SABINE WOMEN, THE SHAME OF THE SABINE WOMEN or THE REBELLION OF THE SABINES (title of Spanish release). I used the title seen in the opening credit: THE RAPE OF THE SABINES. The movie is not bad. It is entertaining but it's not remarkable by any means. For example, the fight between Romulus and Remus at the beginning is one of the lamest things you'll ever see. There's an attempt for the story to touch upon the many aspects of the legend but since they have very little time (80 minutes or so), everything is touched upon in a superficial manner. It's not one of those PEPLUM movies which I watch over and over because they're so much fun.

Lex Johnson and Wolf Ruvinskis, as Romulus, who just killed Remus. Underwhelming scene.

There were two SABINE movies released around the same period. This one and the more famous ROMULUS & THE SABINE WOMEN (1961) starring Roger Moore, Mylene Demongeot and a cast of famous Italian and European actors. It's enjoyable but not very convincing. Like many PEPLUM movies of the time, the 1961 one wavered awkwardly between comedy and seriousness, ultimately to its detriment. Which one I prefer? I definitely prefer the Italian one even though the Mexican production focused mainly on the effects of the mass abduction while the ROMULUS & THE SABINE WOMEN was more focused on Moore playing the lover of many women.

I have three versions of this: the Something Weird release at 81 minutes (it's not available at Something Weird anymore). And two versions in Spanish, one in B&W and the other in color. Both have the same title during the opening credits and are also 81 minutes long.

Lobby Cards Set: THE RAPE OF THE SABINES

US lobby cards set of THE RAPE OF THE SABINES (1962), here as THE SHAME OF THE SABINE WOMEN. Colourful set but it's a fairly poor one in that it only includes scenes of the mass abduction, which is just one part of the movie. No photos of the male actors and some shots of Tere Velázquez and Lorena Velázquez. It's still eye catching and I wouldn't mind having it but there's no variety.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

By the Gods!

The opening title of SIEGE OF SYRACUSE (1960; L'assedio di Siracusa)

This is from the open credits of the Italian copy since the US version is missing in action. My favourite opening from any PEPLUM movie. The music, the direction, the zooming on the artwork screams we're in for an epic story. And it is. Directed by Pietro Francisci, who understood the PEPLUM genre more than anyone else. Note: I cut part of the opening to make the file size small.

Peculiar PEPLUM titles

I came across a Youtube channel which uploaded many of my videos to their channel. Amongst the other titles there were titles for movies I never heard of. The distributor, Republic Pictures, acquired these old black & white copies of actual Italian movies, *retitled* them and sold them as different movies from the original ones. Anyway, very odd.

LAND OF GLADIATORS is actually THE INVINCIBLE GLADIATOR (1961). The original English intro was cut and a new credits were created.


ALI BABA AND THE DARK WIZARD is ALI BABA AND THE SACRED CROWN (1962), which is also known as THE SEVEN TASKS OF ALI BABA. The opening English credits were also cut, replaced by the new title and abbreviated credits.


Like the two above, this title doesn't exist. It's actually MACISTE - AVENGER OF THE MAYANS (1965). This Spanish title translates as HERCULES AGAINST THE WILD GOD.


Every video starts with this logo.

Monday, November 18, 2019

By the Gods!

Gordon Scott and Gianna Maria Canale are rivals and lovers in THE LION OF ST. MARK (1963)

This is one of the best Gordon Scott productions...or is it a Gianna Maria Canale film? Regardless, the movie is tops. The cinematography is lush. The score by Carlo Rustichelli is excellent and bold. The cast, which includes Rik Battaglia and Franca Bettoia, is strong. The story is set in Venice and the locations are very nice. Scott is the son of the Doge, who moonlights as the masked avenger. Pirates are terrorizing Venice and the Adriatic coast and the masked 'Lion of St-Mark' gets involved. Is he friend or foe? Canale is part of the pirates who is captured by Venetian forces and Scott frees her (by buying her freedom), telling the men who captured her that he'll personally take care of her case but the two fall for each other and instead releases her, with a promise the two would meet again.

My only (minor) complaint about the movie is the use of some dilapidated locations, which were most likely not dilapidated hundreds ago but were when the movie was shot. These locations were mostly used for large scale fight scenes. But the interior sets are beautiful. Of all the 'Masked Avenger' movies made during the Golden Era, this is one of the best.


PEPLUM Movie Posters

German poster of THE THREE AVENGERS (1964)

The German title translates as THE INVINCIBLE THREE. Interesting design. Part artwork (bottom and 3 swords) with image from movie, with Mimmo Palmara and Alan Steel.