Friday, December 28, 2012

Happy New Year from PEPLUM Blog

I'm back on Wednesday Jan. 2.

Photo of the Day

Steve Reeves as Hercules trying to restrain some horses in HERCULES (1958)

His arm is as wide as a horse's head.

Cinematic Confusion

This poster is something else. Aside from the lady on the bottom right corner which looks like Margaret Lee, the rest is nothing like COLOSSUS OF THE STONE AGE. The poster is a mishmash of all sorts of artwork taken from other films. The man and the woman wrapped around him look nothing like Reg Lewis or whoever she's supposed to be.

Back to the Future

If you watch a lot of sci-fi films or TV shows you probably noticed the Greco-Roman influence in many of them, certain when it comes to their costumes. Is this simply due to lazy costume designers or what exactly about these Greco-Roman clothes inspire so much of the FUTURE?!?!







On that note I'd like to mention the passing of Gerry Anderson, creator of SPACE:1999, among many other non-PEPLUM shows which I grew up watching and enjoyed immensely.

Gerry Anderson, RIP

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Photo of the Day

Demetrios (Sal Ponti aka Anthony Hall) and Sonoy the Astrologer (Ed Platt) look into a pool of water to view of things to come in ATLANTIS - THE LOST CONTINENT

This is a popular PEPLUM cliché. One of the films which uses this extensively is in MACISTE IN HELL. There's another such scene in THIEF OF BAGHDAD starring Steve Reeves. I'll have to make a compilation of this cliché.

Publicity photo for MACISTE IN HELL?

Kirk Morris and Barbara Steele with some big snakes. I don't know the nature of this photo. Barbara never made a PEPLUM film with Kirk. I wonder if it has anything to do with MACISTE IN HELL where Kirk does wrestle with snakes but Barbara is not in that film. Here's a link which dates the photo (April 1962) but claims it's for a film called HERCULES AGAINST THE SERPENT which doesn't exist. It's most likely a publicity photo for MACISTE IN HELL. Funny photo nonetheless.

PEPLUM Fashion

The new Versace ad campaign, featuring Kate Moss, is inspired by Gladiator fashion. This is nothing new for Versace who also featured PEPLUM inspired clothes during last season (below; see here).

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Photo of the Day

Little Mook (Thomas Schmidt) in THE STORY OF LITTLE MOOK (1953)

This East German-made Arabian adventure is the biggest box office hit in East German history with nearly 13 million tickets sold. I guess people needed some sort of escape back then. I haven't seen the film but there are some clips on Youtube.


A behind-the-scenes photo of the cast (?) and crew of one of the biggest blockbusters, BEN-HUR.

I don't know if there are any actors there but for sure the bulk of the people in this picture is made of the crew.

PEPLUM box office 2012

There were few PEPLUM films released in 2012. There were so few that I decided to include THE HOBBIT even if I don't consider it a PEPLUM film per se, it being too far off into the Fantasy genre spectrum to be included under the wide umbrella of the PEPLUM genre.

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY: $168 million; Worldwide: $456 million. Production budget:

SNOW WHITE & THE HUNTSMAN: $155 million domestic; $396 million worldwide. Production budget: $170 million.

WRATH OF THE TITANS = $83 million domestic; $301 million worldwide, Production budget: $159 million.

JOHN CARTER = $73 million domestic ; $282 million worldwide. Production budget: $250 million.

Box office results for ASTERIX & OBELIX: GOD SAVE THE QUEEN are difficult to come by. In France, the film registered 3,731,002 "entrées" (attendance or tickets sold).

The genre is seemingly dying, THE HOBBIT notwithstanding. I doubt there'll be a third TITANS film, after the disappointing box office for WRATH. And JOHN CARTER is in a category of its own when it comes to box office flops (Disney considered it a flop even before it hit theatres). 2013 has some interesting titles in store for genre fans but nothing remotely spectacular.

Friday, December 14, 2012

PEPLUM break

Photo of the Day

Karim (Steve Reeves) smacks Prince Osman (Arturo Dominici)'s butt in THIEF OF BAGHDAD 

I had to look up this scene in the film to make sure it was in it as I couldn't remember it. The scene is just a few seconds long so it's probably the reason why I couldn't recall it. What an odd image. I like this film even if I know that practically every film fan or purist out there will claim that this is trash and nothing like the 1940s version. I like both and they have their own unique qualities.

Lobby Cards set: FABIOLA

US lobby cards set for FABIOLA. Nice set but knowing how complex and big this film is, the selection of scenes is a bit underwhelming. It's nice, with cards no 2, 7 and 8 being the best but it could have included so much more.

More PEPLUM Rules

I created a new page called PEPLUM Rules. Here's a continuation of those rules I previously posted here.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Photo of the Day

Maciste (Mark Forest) tries to wrestle himself away from soldiers in MACISTE - GLADIATOR OF SPARTA

This scene happens directly at the start and Maciste is eventually captured. This is when one of the commanders looks at Mark and says he'll be great in the arena so they don't kill him. This is a cliché which I'll do one day.

Mark did few of his stunts in his films and because it was difficult to find a stuntman with the same physique the stunts scenes were almost always obvious. Mark is doing his stuff in this scene which is cool. The other thing about this film is that I always get it confused with THE MAGNIFICENT GLADIATOR. Both films extensively use the same (big) sequences and even though I've viewed them several times I still get them confused. The one thing that sets these films apart is that there's a gorilla in this one. Arf.


Brigitte Bardot and Rossana Podestà in HELEN OF TROY (1956)

Brigitte played a bit part in HELEN OF TROY while Rossana was the leading actress. Even though HOT wasn't a flop the costly film didn't have the success the studio wanted so Rossana's career in the US was basically over. In contrast, by the end of the 1950s Brigitte had become an internaional superstar after appearing in a couple films which catapulted her to stardom including AND GOD CREATED WOMAN.... Rossana was still a popular actress in those days but her fame never even reached the levels of Brigitte.

PEPLUM Cliché : Lifting and Throwing Boulder/Rock/Stone

One of the most popular clichés in the PEPLUM genre is our beefy lifting something abnormally heavy no normal human can lift, like a tree, a wagon or even a person, and using it as a weapon. In this set of clichés, it's boulders or rocks or stones or something heavy made of such material, or should I say papeir mache or styrofoam made to look like such material.

Uploaded to the PEPLUM Clichés page



Kirk Morris and Richard Lloyd (aka Ilosh Khoshabe) in HERCULES, SAMSON & ULYSSES


Steve Reeves again in HERCULES UNCHAINED




Gordon Scott is about to throw a table made out of granite in GOLIATH & THE VAMPIRES

Mario Novelli and Richard Lloyd (aka Ilosh Khoshabe) in THE INVINCIBLE BROTHERS MACISTE

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Photo of the Day

Catherine the Great (Hildegard Knef), Count Poniatowski (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart) and a maiden (Ángela Cavo) re-enact a scene from a play in CATHERINE OF RUSSIA

They're wearing togas and stolas for the play but the story takes place in the 18th century. A well mounted production with a host of PEPLUM actors and directed by a veteran of the genre, Umberto Lenzi. I like it but I'm looking for the English track of this. I have the French version. Such costume dramas or Swashbucklers were as popular if not more so than Greco-Roman ones.

PEPLUM stars in vintage media

Gordon Mitchell (aka Chuck Pendleton) on the cover of a vintage fitness magazine published in 1960. I prefer these kind of old vintage covers over today's stuff. Gordon's first film in Italy was MACISTE IN THE LAND OF THE CYCLOPS, which was a year after this cover. Gordon looked very different (certainly his face) on this cover compared to his PEPLUM flicks.


Above: a behind-the-scenes photo during the filming of HERCULES (1958). I really like this photo. This scene is when Hercules and Jason are crossing the river and are helping a mother and her kids cross it by letting them ride on their horses. The set-up is incredibly intricate for a brief scene. There's a forward tracking shot and Steve Reeves is shot from the back. In the photo above, the mother is looking behind her and I took a screenshot of that very moment. What's also interesting is: they shot it on solid ground, not on a river and that there's a microphone, which means they were recording the sound but like most Italian production the sound was probably completed in post-production.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Photo of the Day

Aesop (Turhan Bey) greets Delarai (Merle Oberon) in A NIGHT IN PARADISE (1946)

Also known as simply NIGHT IN PARADISE, this seldom seen PEPLUM was a big flop in 1946 with an estimated cost of $1.6 million, which was a lot back then. I don't have this film in my collection and I haven't seen in its entirety but you can view several clips of this big studio bound film on Youtube and TCM. The film still draws sharp criticism but after viewing the scenes, I believe the people who hated it or are still hating it hate it because of the PEPLUM genre in general not necessarily because the film is bad. Turhan died this year at the age of 95. RIP.


Seven against Thebes is the third play in an Oedipus-themed trilogy produced by Aeschylus. It concerns the battle between an Argive army led by Polynices and the army of Thebes led by Eteocles and his supporters. The story was freely adapted in HERCULES UNCHAINED. And there was a  feature length film few people have seen called 7 FROM THEBES starring Andre Lawrence.

A mural/sculpture of the story. It can be found in the city of Corinth. 

A drawing of the 7 Against Thebes

A modern depiction of the 7 Against Thebes

PEPLUM Publicity campaign

Sophia Loren in a publicity photo taken in 1954 in London at one of the two sphinxes near the obelisk next to the river Thames, probably in connection with her film 2 NIGHTS WITH CLEOPATRA (1954)