Monday, October 31, 2011

Photo of the Day

Scene of Caesar (Rex Harrison) getting killed while Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor) sees visions of the bloody multiple stabbings with the aid of an oracle/enchantress.

This scene is pivotal in CLEOPATRA (1963) and the film sorta soars and falters at the same time. It soars because there's finally something going on and it's sorta fun, in a campy way, but it also falters because of the phoney theatrics. The entire scene of Caesar's death should have just shown Caesar and the Senators but the movie is about Cleopatra and how often have audiences seen Caesar getting killed already? So the director, writers, whoever, decided to incorporate scenes of a grieving, hysterical Cleo along with Caesar's death. It doesn't really work. It tells audience that the filmmakers thought Caesar's death was not important enough to stand on its own and combining both moments together neutralized the whole thing and robbed the entire moment of any actual feelings. 

Movie Poster Mondays

Turkish poster for TRIUMPH OF MACISTE starring Kirk Morris

BY THE GODS! One year anniversary!

Three of my favourite folks: director Pietro Francisci, Steve Reeves and Sylva Koscina during the production of HERCULES. I don't know what they were celebrating in this photo.

As the month of October closes on Halloween night (woo-hoo!) I was reminded that the blog has been one year old this month. The exact date for the anniversary should have been on October 12 but I was too busy then.

I like to thank those who are following my blog, all 31 of them. The more the merrier.  I would also like to thank the regular posters here who contribute or have contributed, one point or another, on a regular basis: Steven Lester, SR Orsulak, PurpleTC, Charles Rutledge, Kike, JJ (of Arenafighter), Jim, Ron Campbell, Deborah Doggette, the brilliant Joe Jusko, Scott Lukas Williams, Jason Apuzzo, etc., And of course, how can I forget to thank Anonymous.

In one year, this blog got nearly 168, 000 hits! It gets between 800 to a thousand hits per day with 80 to 100 coming from returning visitors. Amazing stuff. So how come I'm not making any money out of it? Arf.

I would also like to give a big hug (if they want to) to my FACEBOOK buddies, all 118 of them, but mostly to my regular visitors there: Pasquale Azzollinni, Mayson Buffington, Wade Heaton, Epic Movies, Colossal Quo Vadis, Miklos Cassetti (of WILD WILD PLANET), Jeffery Carter, Christian Colaizzo, Dontuan Immelbo, William Connolly, Ron Campbell, Deborah Doggette, Patrizia Salvati, Steven Smith, Enrique Duenas, Antonio Dominguez Lopez, Attilio Sepe, Bill Shute, David Goode, Mauro Visigalli, Michael Simmons, Gerard Dessere, and many more!!!

I also would like to thank Facebook buddies who happen to be celebs, Mark Forest, Steven Saylor and Sebastian Harrison, for joining the group. Would love to do an interview with you guys. Please?

And last but not least, all regular viewers of PEPLUM TV, certainly Wade Heaton (Togaman) and Mayson Buffington (PurpleTC), and Miklos Cassetti, whenever he's there, who make watching these films much more enjoyable.

This blog has been a lot of work but then I love the subject so, in the end, it doesn't feel like work. I hope I'll be able to keep doing this for a long time.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Photo of the Day

Timothy Dalton as Julius Caesar and Leonora Valera as Cleopatra in CLEOPATRA (1999) TV mini-series

I remember ads for this back a decade or so ago. I never saw it back then so I watched it recently or tried to watch it but quickly lost interest. It's too TV series-like to hold my attention even though I'm a fan of Timothy. Some of actors were miscast for their roles. The acting is soapy and bad at times. The  direction is claustrophobic. The audio made the actors sound like they were in a closet. While watching it I was reminded of why I watch PEP film mainly for: for the splendour, widescreen, technicolor, costumes, sets, etc, which wasn't present in this mini-series. It's not a disaster but it has a lot of weaknesses and I also prefer the aesthetics of the vintage PEP films.

Ancient coins

What's the currency rate for today? (lol)

Perseus and the Medusa

Mars and his sword

An Amazon and Nike with a wreath

Pulpy PEPLUM books

Here are covers of some vintage pulpy novels with a PEP slant. These vintage covers are always colorful, cool and the promise of things sexy.

I never heard of the TROS series before looking for these covers. I'm thinking of buying the first book. Sounds like fun. Anyone out there read them and would you recommend it?

I had to re-read this title a couple of times before realizing it was what I was reading

Sounds like a PEPLUM film. Hmm, in fact there is a film called THE PAGAN QUEEN

Template for future Romance novel

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Photo of the Day

Gloria Milland is about to show Gordon Mitchell how she feels about him in FURY OF ACHILLES

This a screengrab from the actually copy I have, in English. It's gorgeous, as is Gloria. And Gordon is buff! This is one of my favourite scenes ever from a PEPLUM flick. I had a mini Gloria Milland festival today on PEPLUM TV and showed this as part of it. Love Gloria.

IMMORTALS - studio stills

Official studio stills from IMMORTALS starring Kellan Lutz (below), Luke Evans (link) and Henry Cavill amongst many other actors. You can see more photos at this link. One of my first posts I made at this blog was about Kellan possibly being miscast and how he looked in a behind-the-scenes photo taken here in my hometown of Montreal where the movie was filmed but the photo below has changed my mind.

Cool shields

Friday, October 28, 2011

Photo of the Day

Scene from THE TITANS (aka My Son, The Hero), with almost the entire cast in this shot so I won't name all of them except for Serge Nubret, Giuliano Gemma and Jacqueline Sassard.

It's one of those films that I'll never review here or anywhere because I have issues with it and I know practically everyone loves it. So mum's the word. Arf. The only thing I can openly critique is Giuliano's dye job which is horrible!

Film restoration?

From BEN-HUR...I somehow prefer the Before. Hmm...oh well

Then & Now: Paul Wynter

Mr Universe Paul Wynter. Below is the most recent photo of Paul after he made news when he was involved in stopping a knife-wielding intruder who broke into his home. Article.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Photo of the Day

John Derek is in a tight situation in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

Who knew back then that the matinee idol would turn into a recluse with a fetish for blondes with surgically enhanced looks.

Fantasy casting

I came across this photo when surfing them interwebs. Tina was probably to old to play Cleo when she took this photo but a younger Tina would have been interesting. Would it have worked? Too much growl?

PEPLUM Poll: Who's the best PERSEUS?

So who's the best Perseus portrayed on screen? Richard appeared in the Italian PEP film PERSEUS THE INVINCIBLE (aka Medusa vs Son of Hercules); Harry Hamlin starred in CLASH OF THE TITANS and Sam was Perseus in the remake of the latter film.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Photo of the Day

Gino Leurini and Gino Cervi in THE QUEEN OF SHEBA

This is a black & white movie and I'm usually against colourizing B&W films but I have to say that the added colours here are cool and would love to see the film look something like this.

What movie is this from?

This mural/fresco appears in which PEP film? 

Hint: it stars a bodybuilder (lol)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Photo of the Day

Christopher Lee is RAPUSTIN THE MAD MONK

Is this a PEPLUM? Probably not but with films like TERROR OF THE STEPPES, MACISTE AGAINST THE CZAR and THE WHITE WARRIOR, I say this falls under Russian PEP folklore. I'll be playing this on my PEPLUM TV channel once I get it going again, just in time for Halloween.

Digital matte shots

From the BEN-HUR (2010) TV mini-series. Real stuff blended with digital painting.

For some reason, it doesn't look as real as those from QUO VADIS (1950) I posted yesterday.

6 degrees of a PEPLUM statue

The statue seen in HERO OF BABYLON (starring Moira Orfei), which was reused in several other PEP films, was inspired by...

...the Babylonian mythological demon Pazuzu, which was featured... THE EXORCIST

Monday, October 24, 2011

Photo of the Day

Mickey Hargitay is caught by barbarians in REVENGE OF THE GLADIATORS (1964)

Not to be confused with the other 1964 film with the same title starring Roger Browne. Not bad at all but like many films from the latter days of the PEPLUM explosion, it's sorta forgotten.

QUO VADIS matte painting work

The photo above appears on a British lobby card, which, technically, is a goof because in the final movie, matte paintings were added to show that the arena was much bigger, taller and more crowded. That photo is fascinating because it's basically a real photo of the actual set as it appeared when they filmed the movie (I got the photo from the lobby card at Colossal Quo Vadis). Below are screengrabs of those scenes with the matte work added. To give illusion of an actual live crowd to the static painting, the matte paintings, which are done on glass, were left with empty spots and behind the glass they had objects moving back and forth which gave the illusion of movement in the crowd. Cool stuff.


This is my review of the book at Amazon:

With one word, the author almost negates his own book

I'm a big fan of Peplums and I've been a collector of movie posters (of every kind of film) since I was a kid, so it was a given that I would end up buying Retro Stud by David Chapman. All in all, the book is excellent. Beautiful reproduction and great reference for any movie poster collector. I don't regret buying it.

With that said though, the book has several glaring flaws. The first flaw is that the collection is incomplete. Many famous S&S titles are not even represented. I'm aware that they couldn't catalog all S&S posters but still some of them are classics and nowhere to be seen here. I have a Spanish poster for Hero of Rome and it's one of the best Peplum posters ever. It's a stand-out. It would have been great if it had been included. But more importantly, you can go on eBay and find many sellers with great collections. The Ten Gladiators posters in the book are good but there are some better ones available on eBay right now. And looking at the posters on eBay doesn't cost anything.

Second problem, as mentioned by others, is that the author translated the foreign titles word for word, even though they don't match the titles here in North America. Now, granted, many of the titles for the US version were misleading or terrible and changing them to what the Italians intended originally is ok but for reference, if you can't read French or Italian, then it might be a chore to figure out the corresponding US title. Also, many titles from other countries do not match the original Italian titles. For example, one Mexican poster reads "El Triunfo de Spartaco", which the author translated as "The Triumph of Spartacus", a title that doesn't exist. The original Italian title is "Gli Invincibili Dieci Gladiatori", which translates into "The Invincible Ten Gladiators". But here that film goes under the name of "Spartacus & the Ten Gladiators". The Mexican title is misleading and to translate it word for word doesn't make much sense.

Some posters are a total mystery. The one on page 59, which takes over the whole page, has no stars or director listed and the author says the title is The Challenge of the Giants, which is not a real title. It's impossible to figure out which movie the poster is for. The actor in the painting looks like Richard Harrison and from the looks of the actress, the poster might be L'Ultimo Gladiatore, known here as the boneheadedly titled "Messalina Against the Son of Hercules". But that's just my guess.

Also, some of the info about the production or the photos have mistakes. On page 116, there's a photo from "Hercules and the Captive Women". The caption says that the two actors are Reg Park and Fay Spain but the woman in the photo is not the beautiful Fay Spain but the wife of Hercules seen at the beginning of the movie. Speaking of "Hercules & the Captive Women", the author notes that the sensational title is misleading because there are no captive women in the movie, which again is incorrect. The whole point of the story is the Queen's daughter being one of a series of sacrifices to Proteus and Uranus as to keep the island of Atlantis hidden from the outside world. The daughter is rescued from captivity and later on in the movie she's bound 2 more times! The title could also be interpreted as Fay Spain's character inability to love Hercules and that she's fatally caught in her scheme to control the world. The original Italian title translates as Hercules Conquers Atlantis, which is good but it's a more generic title. I prefer "Hercules & the Captive Women" myself.

The third and the most annoying part of the book though is the fact that the author disses Hercules, the Steve Reeves film that started it all, as an "unimpressive" epic. He then goes on and basically tries to point out why the "obscure" film became such a success: it was just clever marketing. Honestly, I find this perplexing. The author proceeds to write an entire book on a subject that was spawned by a single film he dismisses as either "unimpressive" or "obscure". Hercules ignited a whole new genre, from which over hundreds of films were made between the late 1950s and mid-1960s. Not bad for an unimpressive or obscure epic. Heck, not even Star Wars generated that many films after its massive success. I would have used the word "modest" to describe Hercules, not unimpressive and obscure.

The author shoots himself in the foot here. Hercules is a great moody fantasy directed by Pietro Francisci (who directed many S&S films, including the equally great pre-Hercules B&W film, The Queen of Sheba, which is not listed in the book), with cinematography by Mario Bava, and it caught on with the public more than just because of marketing. It would be too long to explain the many reasons why Hercules became such a success and the subsequent Peplum explosion, many of which the author doesn't seem to realize, including female moviegoers (notice the French poster for Hercules Unchained on page 56, which is also the cover of the book, and tell me that wasn't designed specifically to attract women).

I can easily overlook the errors in the production details about movies and the confusing translated titles. In fact, trying to figure out which movie was which was sorta fun. But the author's dismissive attitude towards the movie which generated the Peplum explosion, and subsequently, 50 years later, this book too, is odd and disappointing. Had the author had a bit more faith or respect about the subject, I would have given this book 5 stars instead of 4.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Photo of the Day

Margaret Lee and Reg Lewis in COLOSSUS OF THE STONE AGE (aka Fire Monsters vs Son of Hercules)

This scene happens in the movie but sans lizards. They were added for this (unintentionally funny) photo. The film apparently took six whole months to complete, which is mind boggling when watching the final product.

PEPLUM imagery in the media

Publicity for STAYING ALIVE; Travolta is wearing one of those tiny tunic thingies that were common in Italian PEP films, not so with those made in Hollywood though. He wears this in STAYING ALIVE  during this super tacky Broadway musical about hell, the inferno or something. So Travolta is probably the last famous actor to wear such a thing.

PEPLUM Cliché : The Raft (updated) + new blog page

There's a new blog page called PEPLUM Cliché and I'll upload all already posted clichés and future ones there. The first set is THE RAFT. I know there are more films with that cliché. I'll just have to find them and add them with these. The 1959 BEN-HUR one is probably my favourite scene in that film.

The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault

Kirk Morris & friends escaping a sinking island on a raft in COLOSSUS & THE HEADHUNTERS

Reg Park drifting on a makeshift raft in HERCULES & CAPTIVE WOMEN

Charlton Heston and Jack Hawkins in BEN-HUR (1959)

Joseph Morgan as Ben-Hur in the 2010 TV remake

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Photo of the Day

Kirk Morris rescues Michèle Girardon in ANTHAR THE INVINCIBLE


The Fabulous Posters of FABIOLA

I don't think there's a PEPLUM film, or any film, with as many amazing posters as FABIOLA. As a movie poster collector, it's almost mind-boggling. The first 4 are truly brilliant, with the 4th one being my favourite.