The huge success of PEPLUM films in the 1950s and 60s was due in part to how young kids, mostly young boys, were impressed by the muscly action going on on the big screen. One can measure a film's "success" by what I term the "fascination" aspects within the stories, which made kids flock to theatres to see more and more. The producers of these European films KNEW about this (unlike today's films) and they intentionally tried to milk it for all its worth, even having a kid hang around in one scene to gawk at the big Hero.
IMO, this is what makes these films so great and fun, and unique. Today's action films have none of this 'fascination' aspect and I'm rarely impressed by any Hero or stories. The PEPLUM films from the Golden Era knew how to bring out the little kid in all of us.
From HERCULES UNCHAINED. The kid is not acting there. He's mightily impressed by Steve.
Mark Forest looks like a giant to a boy in HERCULES AGAINST THE MONGOLS
Aeneas (Steve Reeves) and his son (Charles Band) in THE AVENGER (War of the Trojans)
Little kid looking up to Henri Vidal in FABIOLA
Boy watches Harry Baird and Joe Robinson arm wrestling in THOR AND THE AMAZON WOMEN
A boy tries to help Ursus (Samson Burke) in VENGEANCE OF URSUS
Gordon Scott and his son in CORIOLANUS : HERO WITHOUT A COUNTRY
Here's a visual comparison between RAPE OF THE SABINE WOMEN (1962), a Mexican film, and ROMULUS AND THE SABINES (1961), an Italian/Euro production, which was first made. The Mexican production stars Lorena Velázquez, Tere Velázquez, Lex Johnson and Wolf Ruvinskis. The Italian one stars Roger Moore and Mylène Demongeot, among others.
A signature aspect in Pietro Francisci's films: we see a group of maidens or Ladies-in-Wainting or musicians running away or strutting away from their ruler. This is just one of the many signature details in his films which makes them fun.
Michael Biehn is Sebastian in THE MARTYRDOM OF ST. SEBASTIAN
A French TV production starring two English speaking actors (the other is Nicholas Clay). Like so many PEPLUM films, the story starts in modern times and Biehn is transported back in Antiquity and becomes Sebastian. Biehn and Clay are lovers at one point, which was daring back then. Not bad but very serious or some might say pretentious. Even if next to impossible to get a good copy of this film, you can view some clips on Youtube.