Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Worst PEP performance by a bodybuilder

One of my many pet-peeves about how the PEPLUM genre is perceived by the general public is how  they say most bodybuilder-turned-actors were bad. Because Steve Reeves was the first bodybuilder to become a star, many point fingers at him. I always hear "Steve Reeves wasn't an actor!" "Steve Reeves was wooden" etc. Well, it's obvious they haven't seen the following films.

As a side note, this list doesn't automatically say the film is bad as well. A film can be great with a mediocre performance from the beefy actor.

Tie - No 1
Ahnuld in HERCULES IN N.Y.

Whenever he's on screen, the film dies. Yes, it's that bad. The film, on the other hand, is lighthearted and amiable, in NY city kind of way.

Tie - No 1
Samson Burke in TOTO VS MACISTE

Samson overacts shamelessly in this broad comedy. OK, it's not supposed to be serious but whenever Samson overacts it's cringeworthy.


No 2
Lou Ferrigno in HERCULES (1983)

Lou is a cool guy but acting is not his strength. He looked the part and somehow was up  to the challenge but Lou appeared befuddled and at times goofy in this retelling of the legendary Greek character. Compare him to Steve Reeves in HERCULES (1958) and Steve suddenly looks like Lawrence Olivier.


No 3
Reg Park in MACISTE IN KING SOLOMON'S MINES

Reg was basically sleepwalking in this fun and colorful film. He's the film's weakest point.


No 4
Kirk Morris in COLOSSUS AND THE HEADHUNTERS

Picking Kirk's worst performance was a bit of a challenge. I'll admit it, the handsome Kirk wasn't much of an actor but he did get better with each film and he appeared in a masterpiece, MACISTE IN HELL, but he was still very limited. If I had to choose between TRIUMPH OF MACISTE and COLOSSUS AND THE HEADHUNTERS, I chose the latter. A robot would have probably given a better performance.


No 5
Dan Vadis in TRIUMPH OF HERCULES

When the action is fast and laced with comedy, Dan Vadis was the best of the bunch. He was unique as one of the bodybuilders-turned-actors. But when things got serious in the story, Dan's acting limitations came to the fore and there isn't a better example than TRIUMPH OF HERCULES. The part when Herc unleashes his wrath on the village with a deadly outcome almost doesn't work because Dan is supposed to convey things he wasn't capable of doing. So in this scene, because of Dan's limitations,  Herc comes across as super dense and stupid instead of confused and passionate. The film is still fabulous example of the PEPLUM genre.


No 6
Reg Lewis in COLOSSUS OF THE STONE AGE

This is Reg's first and only PEPLUM. That should tell you everything. Reg had an amazing physique, the envy of every men,  but wasn't much of an actor and this film proves it in spades. 


No 7
Mickey Hargitay in THE LOVES OF HERCULES (Hercules vs the Hydra)

Not really bad per se but awkward and unconvincing as Hercules, a slightly chunky Mickey is probably the least offensive bodybuilder-turned-actor on the list but even with several effective scenes in his first starring role Mickey looked goofy and at times light on his feet. He seemingly tip-toes throughout the film. Just check the sequence with the Hydra. But having him paired with his real wife, Jayne Mansfield, was brilliant and the film is still enjoyable and one-of-a-kind in the genre.


No 8
Frank Gordon in MACISTE VS HERCULES IN THE VALLEY OF WOE

No one knows who Frank Gordon is but his turn as Hercules in this film is forgettable. 


No 9
Peter and David Paul in THE BARBARIANS (1987)

Probably should be tied at no 1 for worst performance but the two beefy twin brothers give such knowingly bad performances that it saves them a bit from being on top. Don't ask me who is Peter and who is Paul. The only thing I know in the film one shows more butt than the other. Arf. 


No 10
Ralf Moeller in CONAN tv series

Ahnuld's buddy, Ralf, starred as Conan in a short lived TV series. Ralf had no conviction whatsoever whenever he was on screen. He looked like he just showed up for some shoot and that's it.

So before trashing Steve Reeves in any of his films, just think of these first and you'll realize Steve was pretty good considering his limited thespian talents. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree they're all awful actors,but without muscle men as the leading stars the peplum genre wouldn't be as fun as it used to be.