Friday, November 3, 2017


Here's my first batch of reviews of recent purchases I've made and wrote about it here.

I'll be reviewing 3 DVDs. They are all from Europe. As in most titles, I already had these films in my collection. I was intrigued in buying for different reasons, mainly for better, clearer versions of what's already available before.

IL GIGANTE DI METROPOLIS (Giant of Metropolis ; 1961) - Sinister Film edition

I already have this film in different formats, most notably the French DVD with a beautiful transfer. Since that DVD only had Italian and French dubs, I made a Fan Dub of it (and will soon upload it to PEPLUM TV) with the English track. I'm happy with it but when I saw that this copy of the film had the English dub as part of its menu, I decided to buy it and compare it with my Fan Dub. Well, the info on the packaging (and info at Amazon) is a lie.

There's NO English track on it. I've included a close up of the DVD back cover and, as the yellow arrow shows, it says INGLESE. I was really disappointed with this purchase. The DVD itself is excellent and the print is good (but not as good as the French DVD release) so I don't have any complaints about it over this aspect. It's just that the makers of this DVD (intentionally?) duped buyers like me into thinking it had something it clearly doesn't have. I give the DVD release 4 out of 5 but for someone expecting an English version, I give 1 out of 5.

JULIO CESAR - El Conquistadorde la Galia ( Caesar the Conqueror ; 1962) - Filmax edition

This is a Spanish release. I already had 4 different versions of this title before getting the Spanish one.  There's an English audio track available on it (unlike the previous DVD above, the track is there). The audio, though, is weak and tinny. It needs a good boost to make it stand out. The image quality is not that great. It's widescreen but the incorrect aspect ratio. And the image is washed out. To simplify this review, I'll compare it with the other versions I have.

Spanish version (DVD)
Image is washed out and the aspect ration is incorrect, cropped at both ends. Lets compare it to other copies I have. The running time is 97 minutes and 18 seconds.

French version (DVD) 
Running time : 91 minutes and 23 seconds

German version (VHS)
Running time : 100 minutes and 35 seconds

UK version (TV broadcast)
Running time : 96 minutes and 28 seconds

US version (public domain)
Running time : 98 minutes and 08 seconds

As you can see, the quality of this Spanish version is not that great. The best is the French DVD : even though it's cropped at the bottom and top, and slightly cropped at the sides, the widescreen aspect ratio is correct. The image is a bit dark but the details are good. A close second would be the German version, which, remarkably, is from a VHS source (!). This image doesn't seem cropped at ll. The UK version is also good but the image is cropped and the details are soft. And the worse of the bunch is, of course, the US version which is in the public domain. So, the Spanish DVD is just above the US version in terms of quality (sound and image). It's definitely a step above the public domain copy but it way too bright and the image is poor.

As for the running time, or length of the film, it's a bit more complicated since US copies run at 24 frames per second while in Europe, it's often at 25 frames per second or slightly different. This change in 'frames per seconds' automatically affects the length of the film. Since not one of them matches, with the French one being the shortest, this tells me that scenes have been cut in almost all versions except for the US version (The German version has an extra long end credit added to it).

Since the longest one is the US version and, as it's often the case, it's the one I'll use to compare the other versions. The UK version is also pretty close to the actual length but the TV channel which showed the film often cuts scenes here and there. I'll have to compare them to see where and how they all differ from the US version.

Even if the quality of the image from this Spanish DVD is not that great, I'm still happy I purchased it. I will help me in making a suitable Fan Dub, by comparing it with other versions but also because the opening credits are in English! I rate it 2.5 out of 5. For those not in the business of doing Fan Dubs, they might want to steer clear of it though.

SPARTACUS DER TITAN MIT DER EISERNEN FAUST (Colossus of Rome ; Hero of Rome ; 1964) - VZ-Handelsgesellschaft mbH edition

This German DVD of HERO OF ROME (or Colossus of Rome) is excellent. I have almost nothing bad to say about it except that the image could have been a bit more 'punched up' or richer. Just to give it some perspective, look at the screenshots below : the image quality of this German DVD is identical to the UK TV broadcast, which was shown in standard definition. I'm not complaining. It's nice but since the TV broadcast usually lose resolution when transferred to any format, I wished the German DVD had been better. Both are most likely from the same source.

The great thing about the DVD is that the running time, at 86 minutes, is nearly 5 minutes longer than the UK version, at 81 minutes and 57 seconds (the US public domain version is 88 minutes and 39 seconds long). This German DVD also includes the original Italian trailer, which is fab. Rating : 4 out of 5.

(as a side note : that German title doesn't make a lick of sense! What does Spartacus have to do with this story?)

More reviews in the near future.


Anonymous said...

Far too many European DVDs of peplum films say that there is an English language option when there isn't.
What's up with that?

Richard Svensson said...

Most US editions of Peplums are truly abysmal!