Saturday, July 23, 2011

PEPLUM Break


I'll be back in a week. I'll still post PEPLUM TV announcements if and when they happen. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Photo of the Day

Anna Karina (left) and Marilù Tolo (right) from SHEHERAZADE (Shéhérazade or La Schiava Di Bagdad). This film hasn't seen the light of day since forever.

Cinematic confusion

Can you guess which movie this is and its star?




(it's supposed to be GLADIATORS OF ROME starring Gordon Scott!)

PEPLUM Anachronism: Ancient Egyptian Swimsuit

Julie Newmar and her big dance number in SERPENT OF THE NILE

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Photo of the Day

Brad Harris and Olga Berova (Schoberova) in POPPEA'S HOT NIGHTS

Brad and Olga were married at one point.

Salammbo Comix

Rene Gahou created a comic in the 1940s based on the book by Gustave Flaubert. It was serialized in a magazine called Cendrillon. I would love to get a hold of this.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Photo of the Day

Pierre Brice, as the god Dionysus, sends people into rapture in THE BACCHANTES, one of the most hard to find PEP films ever. Well, at least we have this fascinating photo. 

Alpha Video = repackaged Millcreek Entertainment

Screengrab on the left is from a Millcreek DVD; screengrab on the right is from Alpha Video. Same film and yet the scene is zoomed in on the Alpha Video. Why? because they had to crop out the MC logo seen at the bottom right corner of the image on the left.

As someone who has tons of PEPLUMS on DVDs from every possible company, I've noticed that PEPLUM flicks on Alpha Video DVDs are actually those from Millcreek Entertainment 50-pack but with the Millcreek logo cropped out. If you purchased any Millcreek Entertainment DVDs, you probably noticed that at every 10 minutes or more, the MC logo annoyingly appears at the bottom right corner. Well, I don't know if Alpha Video has a deal with Millcreek but it's obvious from these screengrabs taken from KINDAR THE INVULNERABLE that Alpha took Millcreek DVDs, digitally cropped the scenes when/where the MC logo appeared, tweaked the image a bit, repackaged them and sold them as new. The scenes before and after the MC logo appears are not cropped; they are identical on both AV and MC films. The red square on the screengrab from the MC source on the left shows where the crop needed to be in order to remove the logo and also maintain a 4:3 aspect ratio and that's what the image on the right looks like. It's amazing.

But there's more.

The Millcreek 50-pack is usually priced at $20+ (Amazon currently has it at $13) while Alpha Video sells the same titles in individual or in combos DVDs for around $5 to $8 (examples here and here). So let's calculate this: 50 titles divided by 2 = 25 combo DVDs. 25 times $7 = $175 to buy the same number titles found on the MC 50-pack!!!

In other words, avoid Alpha Video at all cost.

(I added the words Alpha Video on the image on the right; those words do not appear on the source image)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Photo of the Day

Bella Cortez looks small standing next to the big statue (giant?) in GIANT OF METROPOLIS

I wonder if the statue still exists today.

Then & Now: Kirk Morris

Kirk in MACISTE IN HELL

Kirk today

Monday, July 18, 2011

Photo of the Day

Mimmo Palmara and Gordon Scott fight it out to the death in GOLIATH AND THE REBEL SLAVE (aka Tyrant of Lydia Against the Son of Hercules). 

Or is it BEAST OF BABYLON? Just kidding. I always get those two films confused.

Movie Poster Mondays

German poster for DW Griffith's INTOLERANCE

Not a complete PEPLUM per se. The film contains 4 stories from different periods with one about Jesus Christ and another set  during the time of Babylonia, with some of the biggest sets ever built for a movie. Cool poster.

Archaeologists Excavate Goliath's Hometown

Any one of thousands of smooth stones being excavated at Gath could be the one that toppled Goliath, the giant conquered by David via a slingshot outside the city.

While David went on to become the King of Israel, Goliath died on the spot (the beheading helped speed that process along) and with his death came the defeat of the Philistine people, as told in Chapter 17 of the Book of Samuel—as the Israelites chased them back to their home at Gath.

Link


Friday, July 15, 2011

Photo of the Day

Alan Steel & company prepare for battle in HERCULES & THE BLACK PIRATE

Love this photo. Fun film!

PEPLUM Behind the Scenes

Gina Lollobrigida practices her amazing dance number from SOLOMON & SHEBA

Missing Scene?

This scene is not in COLOSSUS OF THE ARENA. Of course, it could be a publicity shot but still...

Mark Forest and Scilla Gabel have few scenes together in this film and it would have been fun to see.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Photo of the Day

Cool feat of strength scene from HERCULES THE INVINCIBLE (or Son of Hercules in the Land of Darkness). Dan Vadis topples a bridge of stone with his back. It's a brief scene but it, eh, rocks.

Vintage Publicity Art

Cute artwork of the some of the actors from QUO VADIS

PEPLUM "Babes & Beauties" of the Month : Leonora Ruffo

Leonora in SWORDS WITHOUT A COUNTRY

Leonora is the "Babes & Beauties" for July. Leonora was beautiful and a strong actress but not really a "cheesecake" actress so finding pin-up shots of her are hard to come by. Her classic beauty shone even greater because of her excellent acting skills. Her biggest role was the lead role in THE QUEEN OF SHEBA and what a role it was. Though she worked with Fellini and other great filmmakers, she only appeared in 21 films. Her career seemed sporadic and it never caught fire. Maybe it was personal decision of hers to take it easy but in the end  I think she was thoroughly overlooked and underrated. Leonora was almost unrecognizable when she became a blonde during the early to mid-sixties but her fiery piercing eyes, elegant posture were still the same. 

Leonora's biggest role was in the endlessly entertaining THE QUEEN OF SHEBA. She was young and had done just two films prior to this big role but she held her own and gave an unforgettable performance.


Leonora in HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD

These two stills are from GOLIATH AND THE VAMPIRES


Leonora co-starred with Mark Forest in GOLIATH & THE DRAGON

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Photo of the Day

Rory Calhoun and Mimmo Palmara are defiant in THE COLOSSUS OF RHODES

Big, expansive if a bit overlong PEPLUM directed by SERGIO LEONE. 

PEPLUM Anachronism: Medieval Shorts

Lex barker in CAPTAIN FALCON. Lex wears shorts with a fur belt/pelt thingamajig on the front. It's different than the usual stuff and it showcases Lex's athletic legs but it's not of the times.


HERCULES DVD Review - US vs French DVDs

(I corrected the review here. I got both version mixed up)

Jeffrey asked on my Facebook page if the Image Entertainment dvd of the Steve Reeves classic HERCULES was worth buying. I told him yes, it's the best possible dvd out there from the US. The transfer is not perfect as there's a slight discrepancy that annoys me. Of course, unless you have a stand-alone region free DVD player/dvd-drive on your computer, the option of getting the French dvd is not available for folks this side of the world.

I have multiple dvds of HERCULES, but I'll concentrate only on the ones which are in widescreen, which includes the US version from Image Entertainment and the French version from DVDY Films, which also includes the English and Italian tracks (genius!). Both dvds are basically from the same source. There's almost no difference in terms of length and scenes. The only difference with the French dvd is that it starts with Joseph E Levine opening credit while the US dvd goes directly to the opening credit, which is odd.


Right from the start, you can see the difference between the US and French dvds. The red from the US dvd is much darker than the French one below.


Sylva looks a bit more stumpy in the French transfer below. Though the brightness on the French dvd loses details on Sylva's dress it gains some with the darker parts of the image, including the shrubs in the background and Steve's torso.


cam to gif
You can see the distortion between both versions with this gif animation. The image from the French dvd seems squished compared to the US version. The question is, which one has the right aspect ration?

Another example of the US dvd being much darker than the French version. You can barely see the colour of Herc's tunic.



The aspect ratio between the US and French dvds. Both of them are 720 wide but the height is different. But which one has the correct height? The French one appears to be squished, which is annoying but then maybe it has the correct aspect ratio and the US DVD is stretched vertically. I dunno. You can click on image to view the details.

This is where the US dvd loses out to the French dvd: the image above is clearly too dark in this close up. The image below from the French dvd is squished vertically but the colours seem much better. You can see details  in Steve's beard and hair. The US dvd loses too much details compared to the French one.


So in closing both versions have their faults but the French version edges out the US one. I still recommend the US widescreen version because it's the best one out there for North America. Though the image seems to be vertically distorted on the French dvd, the colours are more vivid because it's brighter than the US transfer. Like I said, both dvds are most likely pulled from the same source it's just that Retro Media tweaked the image a bit more in order to change the screen aspect ratio.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Photo of the Day

A 19 year old Sophia Loren on the set of 2 NIGHTS WITH CLEOPATRA

Muscle Mags


Muscle magazines of the 1950s and as late as the mid-1960s (like the one above)  contributed to the enduring popularity of the PEPLUM genre and Steve Reeves was the King of bodybuilders back then.


Drugging the Hero - PEPLUM Cliché - Steve Reeves


This is half of the length of the full compilation which is almost one hour long. Yes, it's a popular cliché. You can catch the complete set of clips on PEPLUM TV from time to time.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Photo of the Day

To commemorate the new banner, here's a photo from HERCULES GAINST THE BARBARIANS.

Mark Forest tries to rescue José Greci from a crushing wall trampled by a horde of soldiers on horseback. This feat of strength is pretty cool.

Movie Poster Mondays

Colourful poster that captures the film's spirit

AKA


Iloosh Khoshabe has probably the most aliases than any other PEPLUM actor. 

He's known as:

Rod Flash
Rod Flash Ilush
Ilush
Ilush Khoshabe
Richard Lloyd


Friday, July 8, 2011

photo of the Day

Edmund Purdom shows Miles O'keefe how to handle a sword in ATOR THE FIGHTING EAGLE (aka Ator the Invincible). Directed by Joe D'Amato!

All week I featured films from the 1980s, which I admit I sorta overlooked. It's weird because back in the day, we (or almost all of us) laughed at these cheapies made in Italy but I somehow prefer them to the unpleasant, quasi-nihilistic multi-million dollar budgeted stuff made today. 

NERO Doll

A doll of Nero, during the Burning of Rome scene, as played by PETER USTINOV from QUO VADIS

Cool and a tad freaky. Arf. From Colossal Quo Vadis.

Youtube Update


After wrangling for nearly a year with Youtube about a company (craze productions) claiming copyright infringements on Public Domain films, the company has finally decided to stop those fraudulent claims after many of their channels were closed because they were uploading, get this, non-public domain films (doh!). I can now upload Public Domain films again, including many of my clips, back again at Youtube. This has been a complete nightmare as many clips and compilations I've worked on had ads forcibly imposed on them because of these claims. This company was basically leeching off on my stuff, which I worked hours upon hours on and I had to remove them. I had many special features and profiles which were very popular and had 10s thousands of view which are now all gone. I'm going to try rebuilding the channel from the ground up even if I'm a bit hesitant as I don't want this to happen to me again.