Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The PEPLUM films of Umberto Lenzi

Last Friday, Italian director Umberto Lenzi died at the age of 86. His long career, with over 60 films, started in the early 1960s making PEPLUM films. Once the genre died off, he went on to direct so called Euro-cult films in the 1970s and 1980s like CANNIBAL FEROX and NIGHTMARE CITY (!!!). Regardless of his latter output, his PEPLUM films were always solidly directed and entertaining. Here's a list of his genre films. R.I.P..


Lisa Gastoni and Jerome Cortland in QUEEN OF THE SEAS (1961)

The cast of TRIUMPH OF ROBIN HOOD (1962), including Gia Scala, Don Burnett and Samson Burke ad Little John

CATHERINE OF RUSSIA (1963) starring Hildegard Knef and Giacomo Rossi Stuart

Pierre Brice and Hélène Chanel in INVINCIBLE MASKED RIDER (1963)

Pierre Brice and Alan Steel in ZORRO VS MACISTE (1963 ; also known as Samson & the Slave Queen)

Geneviève Grad and Steve Reeves in SANDOKAN THE GREAT (1963). One of the best from Umberto Lenzi.

Sean Flynn and John Kitzmiller in TEMPLE OF THE WHITE ELEPHANT (1964)

Richard Harrison and Lisa Gastoni in THE LAST GLADIATOR (1964 ; also known as Messalina vs the Son of Hercules). This is my favourite Umberto Lenzi PEPLUM film.

Nando Angelini and Steve Reeves in SANDOKAN - THE PIRATE OF MALAYSIA (1964). Another top notch film.

Wilbert Bradley and Richard Harrison in TEMPLE OF A THOUSAND LIGHTS (1965)

Elvire Audray and Sam Pasco in IRONMASTER (1983). Entertaining film and one of the better Italian PEPLUM films of the 1980s.

Umberto Lenzi 1931–2017

6 comments:

lina esposito said...

He also directed Duello nella sila 1962

Adrian Smith said...

I've not seen any of his peplum films, but I love Nightmare City! I definitely need to go back through some of these.

Scott Ochiltree said...

The quality of Umberto Lenzi's output was "mixed" at best in my view.

I think his best films were the two SANDOKAN movies with Steve Reeves (Steve is always first class!) and THE LAST GLADIATOR.

QUEEN OF THE SEAS is a relatively disappointing pirate flick.

The role of a female pirate captain has been played better by Gianna Maria Canale (several films), Jean Peters (ANNE OF THE INDIES), and Binnie Barnes (THE SPANISH MAIN).

PEPLUM Cinema said...

Scott, I disagree about that. CATHERINE OF RUSSIA, ZORRO VS MACISTE and TEMPLE OF A THOUSAND LIGHTS are solid. And IRONMASTER is surprisingly good for a low budget film of the 1980s.

Thanks, Lina. I didn't include all of his film for reasons of brevity.

Richard Svensson said...

To me it's surprising that a director like Lenzi, who made all those classy and entertaining historical and semi-fantasy epics (as well as some quality Gialli films)could fall so low as to make exploitative trash like Cannibal Ferox in his later career. Those films with such a blatant use of gore, and, worse, scenes of real animals being tortured to death puts out such a stink that it even lingers on his earlier, good output for me.

Anonymous said...

Would anybody happen to have a synopsis of Catherine of Russia? The very brief synopsis on IMDB doesn't
relate much info.

Gary Smith