By the Gods!

Kirk Morris, as Samson, in a spectacular 'feat of strength' moment from SAMSON & THE SEA BEAST (1963)

This set up is quite amazing. Not a big budgeted film by any means and yet since these were Italian productions, beautiful locations and ships were readily available, something even big budget Hollywood films couldn't easily get at the time. The 'death trap' is quite elaborate: the small boat with the rowers are pulling away, bringing the lances closer to Samson. Samson is not in danger as long as he keeps the boat close to the dock but with so many men rowing, it's a fight for dear life.

Director Tanio Boccia directed Kirk in the all time PEPLUM classic, TRIUMPH OF MACISTE (1961). IMDb's profile of Kirk has the absolute worst photo (headshot) imaginable, taken from this movie.


Behind the scenes photo of Pier Angeli during the filming of SODOM & GOMORRAH (1962). Note that the clapboard is in Italian.

Kirk Morris - stuntman in SAMSON & THE MIGHTY CHALLENGE?

A new DVD of SAMSON & THE MIGHTY CHALLENGE (1964) was released in France. The image is very clear, so much so that we see details we weren't supposed to see, like the stuntman standing in for Alan Steel, who played Hercules. The stuntman looks more like Kirk Morris than Steel. In fact, I'd swear the stuntman was Kirk Morris. The only thing which tells me that's not Kirk is the stuntman is not as muscular as him. But he's an almost exact copy of Kirk from HERCULES, SAMSON & ULYSSES (1963). Both Morris and Steel worked as stuntmen during their career. It's odd to see a stuntman in lieu of Steel in these action scenes.

The three following screenshots show the stuntman in action.

Above: Kirk Morris in HERCULES, SAMSON & ULYSSES (1963). The stuntman in the 3 screenshots above look more like him than Alan Steel in the movie (below).

By the Gods!

Publicity photo of the cast of CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981)

Athena (Susan Fleetwood), Aphrodite (Ursula Andress), Burgess Meredith (Ammon), Hephaestus (Pat Roach), Laurence Olivier (Zeus), Jack Gwillin (Poseidon), Perseus (Harry Hamlin), Hera (Claire Bloom), Andromeda (Judi Bowker) and Thetis (Maggie Smith).

Great cast. Unfortunately, most of the Gods had very little to do. Their roles were more cameos than anything else. It's always odd seeing a photo of characters that were never together in the story, that is Hamlin, Bowker and Meredith with the Gods. Hamlin and Andress became a couple after making this film and had a son together.

Excluding mythical creatures, such as the Medusa, there are many characters missing in that cast photo including Calibos, Thallo, Cassiopeia (played by Sian Phillips, above), the Stygian witches and of course, Bubo. Athena's owl would become Bubo, one of the most polarizing characters of all time. Part stop-motion and part animatronic (depending on the scenes). Personally, Bubo didn't bother me but many absolutely loathed the cute mechanical owl.

Flora Robson (don't ask me who of the three she was) is one of the Stygian Witches. Great scene.

PEPLUM Movie Posters

Original Italian poster of HERO OF BABYLON (1963; aka Beast of Babylon Against the Son of Hercules)

Great poster. I'd like to buy it.

Caption needed!

Steve Reeves in THE GIANT OF MARATHON (1960)

Provide a funny caption and I'll post the funniest here!

Who's your favourite Ursus?

Ursus was a character in the novel QUO VADIS? written by Henryk Sienkiewicz. That novel was adapted several times at the movies, including the major Hollywood film in 1951. The character's name would symbolize strong man, and later films with the name Ursus had little to do with the original character. Though not always, the character would often have blond or sandy hair, and is often associated with fighting with a bull (as it was in QUO VADIS). Note: I didn't include the actors who played Ursus for the two European mini-series.

So, who's your favourite Ursus?

Buddy Baer in QUO VADIS (1951)

Ed Fury in THE MIGHTY URSUS (1960). Fury would star in two other Ursus films and was basically the main star for the whole series. For many, Ed is Ursus.

The following titles have nothing to do with the Ed Fury / Ursus series.

Samson Burke played Ursus in VENGEANCE OF URSUS (1961)

Joe Robinson was Ursus in URSUS AND THE TARTAR PRINCESS (1961)

Alan Steel and Dan Vadis, as Ursus, in URSUS - THE REBEL GLADIATOR (1962)

Alan Steel finally played Ursus in THE 3 AVENGERS (1964)

Yann Larvor was a mean Ursus in SAMSON & THE MIGHTY CHALLENGE (1964)

Reg Park played Ursus. The original title was URSUS & THE TERROR OF THE KIRGHIZ but was re-titled HERCULES - PRISONER OF EVIL (1964) for the English market.

Article of the week: Twin Productions - part 2

If there's one thing the PEPLUM genre has, it's 'Twin Productions': i.e. two movies made at the same time or back to back, using the same crew and pretty much the same cast, or mainly the same supporting cast, and shot in the same locations. This tradition of PEPLUM films being part of Twin Productions continued on up until the 1980s, with Pietro Torrisi movies as examples. In this set, I'll focus on the movies of the Golden Era which had a plethora of shared productions.

Just to make sure, these Twin Productions do not include sequels or movies which are part of a series, like the TEN GLADIATORS movies or the URSUS series starring Ed Fury. Twin Productions are movies with pretty much the same crew and cast but with stories and characters unrelated to each other. 

The following titles here are perfect examples of 'Twin Productions'. Some of them are so alike that they look more like sequels than different movies/stories. Also, like most of the titles listed here, the fact that they're 'Twin Productions' doesn't diminish their worth. I like every set here. well, except for IN THE SHADOW OF THE EAGLES and MASSACRE IN THE BLACK FOREST. I don't care much for EAGLES. 

Yes, there'll be a part 3. 

Posted at the permanent page 'ARTICLES OF THE WEEK (2019)'

You can view part 1 here


Same set, different films. Gordon Scott stars in both films and it's sometimes difficult to tell them apart. The easiest way to figure this one out (from these screenshots) is HERO stars Moira Orfei and Piero Lulli while REBEL SLAVE stars Mimmo Palmara and Massimo Serato (also Serge Nubret who's not in this scene). But aside from some cast differences, story setting, and some of the action scenes, both movies are practically twins.

One screenshot is from HERO OF BABYLON and the other from GOLIATH & THE REBEL SLAVE. Guess!


Both films were shot in the same locations. They both shared the same sets, most of the same cast, same director, etc. If you blink, you wouldn't know how to differentiate these films from one another. In fact, every Kirk Morris movie released in 1964 and 1965 are 'Twin Productions'.

Above: Hélène Chanel and Kirk Morris in MACISTE IN THE VALLEY OF THE THUNDERING ECHOES. Below: Hélène and Paul Mueller in DESERT RAIDERS. Same set with some changes.


One of the most peculiar 'Twin Production' is this one. Above: the super serious SIEGE OF SYRACUSE, starring Gino Cervi and Sylva Koscina, directed by Pietro Francisci (to be released in the USA by Paramount pictures), and below: the super goofy and campy COLOSSUS AND THE AMAZON QUEEN starring Gianna Maria Canale. The amazing thing about the latter is that the production is quite excellent for such a silly (but fun) film. It's a bit jarring to watch. There are scenes in the comedy which had its own settings (like the over-the-top dance sequence) but aside from the cast and director, both films shared the same production.

Above: Tina Louise (back to us) in SIEGE OF SYRACUSE. The ship set was also used in COLOSSUS AND THE AMAZON QUEEN (below).


On face value, the Mark Forest muscle fantasy adventure KINDAR doesn't seem to have much in common with the Arabian adventure FALCON starring Kirk Morris with the exception that both were shot in the desert. But the productions are identical. The production company for both films was WONDER FILMS. Scenes from KINDAR were used in FALCON. The music is identical. Again, it's one of those shared productions were the cast and director were mostly different but the rest was the same. The one exception with the cast: Howard Ross (aka Red Ross aka Renato Rossini) starred in both movies.

Above: Howard Ross with Mark Forest in KINDAR. Below: Howard in Falcon.


If there was one 'Twin Production' I'd use as being a perfect example, these two films would be it. Stories are entirely different and yet they look, sound totally alike. Both directed by Fernando Baldi and starring Cameron Mitchell, these movies which have nothing in common, story wise, are the same thing. It's very odd looking at them one right after the other. Of the many sets of Twin Productions, this is my least favourite. I like MASSACRE while EAGLES leaves me cold. It's not bad. It's just dull.


These two films starring Mark Forest are very much alike. The easiest to set them apart: in MACISTE - GLADIATOR OF SPARTA, Mark fights with a gorilla. Haha! I like both films and yet sometimes I get them confused. There are two major scenes (fighting and a prison rescue) which appear in both. As I've already stated before, I prefer MAGNIFICENT slightly over SPARTA. It's more fun and colourful while SPARTA drags a bit, even if the latter has some stand-out moments like when Mark fights with a gorilla, and the mud fight scene at the end. But both films are top beefy action movies.

Mark Forest and Marilù Tolo. Above:  SPARTA, while below, MAGNIFICENT. In SPARTA, Marilù is an evil temptress while in MAGNIFICENT, she's the good love interest.

Above and below: Which screenshot is from MAGNIFICENT GLADIATOR and which one is from MACISTE - GLADIATOR OF SPARTA?


These two Richard Harrison movies are identical in many ways except for stories. I have to admit that REVOLT OF THE PRAETORIANS' story is quite different than the one for TWO GLADIATORS. But aside from that, the cast is nearly identical except for a few changes. Giuliano Gemma also stars in both productions. And the sets are the same.

A third film could be added to these two: THE LAST GLADIATOR (aka Messalina against the Son of Hercules) also starring Richard Harrison but there are too many differences in it that it doesn't feel like it's part of this Twin Production.

Moira Orfei is in both productions, and she, of course, plays a villainess. Mimmo Palmara is the male villain in TWO GLADIATORS while Piero Lulli is the villain in REVOLT OF THE PRAETORIANS. Notice the same set.


These Twin Production are so identical that I decided to show screenshots of the opening credits to show how identical they are. The cast is mostly different, with Iloosh Khoshabe the lead actor in SACRED CROWN while Gordon Mitchell stars in SEVEN SARACENS. But Bella Cortez is the female lead in both films. SEVEN SARACENS was a Sinbad movie in its original Italian version but the story takes place entirely on land so changing the character to Ali Baba doesn't actually make much of a difference. And since SACRED CROWN was made first, it made sense to follow it with another Ali Baba movie, even if both films are not related. So, everything is nearly identical exempt for part of the cast. Same crew, same music, same locations, same lead female, etc. Still, for movies which are nearly twins, they do not resemble each other, in terms of pacing and tone. SACRED CROWN is more fantasy while SEVEN SARACENS is purely an action movie.

Another film could be added to this set, VULCAN - SON  OF JUPITER, also starring Iloosh Khoshabe, Bella Cortez and Gordon Mitchell. Also directed by Emimmo Salvi. But VULCAN had a different production company while both Ali Baba films had the same production company.