Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Photo of the Day

Delilah (Hedy Lamarr) just cut Samson's hair (Victor Mature) in SAMSON & DELILAH.

Those helmets are impressive AND sorta goofy looking. The amazing production design is almost overwhelming.


The artwork for the soundtrack caught my attention. First, because I've never seen it before and second the artist made Gordon Scott look like the good guy and Steve Reeves as the bad guy. Hmm...

Also, I can see a passing resemblance to Steve but that doesn't look like Gordon. And the girl doesn't look like Virna Lisi or Jose Greci. Hmm...

You can listen to the theme below. One of the greatest PEPLUM themes ever. 

PEPLUM Behind the Scenes: Gianna Maria Canale

Gianna Maria Canale eats a panini during a break while filming CONQUEROR OF THE ORIENT 

I love this. I created this montage from the many photos taken of this momentous event. Gianna is so cute and funny. She probably knew the film was a turkey (I voted this as one of the worst PEPLUM films ever made) and had fun to alleviate the boredom. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Photo of the Day

Reb Brown and Corinne Cléry in YOR HUNTER OF THE FUTURE; directed by Antonio Margheritii

This PEP/Sci-Fi hybrid is universally regarded as junk. It is silly, crappy direct to home video stuff (even if it was actually released in theatres) but it's still entertaining in "it's so bad it's good" way. Reb couldn't act but he had a great physique/built straight out of Boris Vallejo painting. And Corinne, who was a Bond girl and starred in the controversial HISTOIRE D'O, gave the film a great 1970s Euro chic babe appeal. As bad as YOR is it still tops IMMORTALS in one way: it was actually shot outside, in location, with real burning wood, etc. Arf.

YOR was apparently a mini-series in Italy and there's a reportedly 4 hour version out there. Yes, 4 HOURS of YOR! Mind boggling if it's true.

Quick Review: IMMORTALS


NEW Feature: Quick review


It's official, I'm over films made entirely with the green screen process. Seriously, the core of IMMORTALS rang hollow throughout, including the abysmal acting, because people do things or act in vacuum. The actors can't get "into" the films they appear in because there's nothing around them. While watching IMMORTALS I had the distinctive feeling I got while watching SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW starring Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow: a film can rely so much on an actor's charisma and CGI to keep it going. A film needs a semblance of actually being somewhere even for a fantasy. And I sorta liked parts of SKY CAPTAIN but the green screen process zapped it from any energy. It's no wonder the director of SKY CAPTAIN never made any films again. Fast forward 7 years and Hollywood is still churning up films made in the same way. Bleech. No more. I'm over them.

CGI army. Boring.

Watching a film made entirely in green screen makes it unnecessarily claustrophobic: I feel trapped in a production designer's portfolio. IMMORTALS' looks have been lauded but after a few minutes I was bored. Slavish attention to details does not equate to realism or greatness.

There's a specific scene where the film sorta died for me: when Theseus kills the baddies with that magic arrow thingy (I'm too lazy for the specifics). The scenes AFTER the bad guys are killed, we see a couple of shots of the actors faces, all  breathing heavily. The actors' faces are blank, expressionless. The film sorta stopped dead in its tracks then and there. If your going to give massive close-ups of actors and basically end up showing how wooden they are, the whole effect crumbles. The funny thing with that scene is Theseus and the three are half a mile away but the direction makes it seem that they're able to see their reaction.

This is the kind of acting you get when shooting entirely with green screen

The BIG problem with this film is, compared to PEPLUM films of the Golden Age, how they turn everyone into superheroes. Mount Olympus is basically the JUSTICE LEAGUE OF ANTIQUITY. Zeus lands hard on the ground making it rise, a la MATRIX, etc.

Sorry but when I think of Greek gods, I don't think of superheroes or MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS. Why does EVERYONE have to be a freaking superhero?!?! We seem to live in really dark times when Mythical Gods or even real historical characters can only be seen as being worthwhile if they can kick ass (see ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER). I swear, we are this close in seeing a film which shows God teaching Jesus how to Kung Fu. Well, that might be sorta funny.

The gods from Mount Olympus were the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

The direction is remarkably simplistic. Subtle this film ain't. The use of tsunamis and crumbling mountain evoke all the wrong feelings because the director clearly tries to evoke actual world disasters like the tsunami disasters in Japan and in the Indian ocean and 9/11 for the crumbling mountain to pump up the action and the allegory in the story but in a world of Greek mythology it doesn't work.

Mickey Rourke, John Hurt and Luke Evans are some of the actors that actually gave some sort of weight to their characters. Henry Cavill is set to play the next SUPERMAN. Sorry but Henry still has to prove he's a capable actor and not just good looks. Luke Evans acted rings around Henry in this film and Luke's appearance is almost a cameo.

Trivia: the film is 105 minutes long and the end credit is a staggering 8 minutes long, making the actual film only 97 minutes long and yet it felt much longer.

In closing, next time they shoot a new PEP film, please film it outside where the sun shines. Thanks.

Rating: 4 out of 10

make gif
Actual gif animation of fx from IMMORTALS. Pretty lazy copy/paste: They just added the tunnel opening to the image without changing much of it.

PEPLUM Babe of the Month: Tina Louise

Tina as Sappho in SAPPHO - VENUS OF LESBOS

Ok so it's the end of the month but better late than never. Tina Louise is the PEPLUM Babe for February (and part of March).

Tina went to Italy and shot two fabulous PEPLUM flicks both directed by Pietro Francisci: SIEGE OF SYRACUSE and SAPPHO - VENUS OF LESBOS, the latter being one of, if not my favorite Sword & Sandal of all time.

IMO, Tina was made for the genre. Her classic statuesque beauty, sometimes difficult to be taken seriously in modern settings, was simply perfect for stories set in Antiquity or Medieval times. I wished she had made more of them. Tons more.

Uploaded to the BABES & BEAUTIES permanent page.

Tina starred with Kerwin Mathews in SAPPHO.

Rossano Brazzi was her co-star in the epic SIEGE OF SYRACUSE

Alberto Farnese was also her co-star in SIEGE OF SYRACUSE. Great photo!

Tina was (and still is) mostly remembered for being Ginger on GILLIGAN'S ISLAND. Here, Ginger re-enacts a scene from Hamlet in one of those kooky episodes.

There's NO shortage of cheesecake shots of Tina on the web. Here are two of them.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Photo of the Day

Sergio Ciani (aka Alan Steel) as Hercules in SAMSON & THE MIGHTY CHALLENGE

Oddly enough, many consider this as being one of THE worst films ever made. I disagree, of course. I read a review today from another blog that trashed it. Aside from the subplot with the young lovers, which is tedious, the rest is fine. I don't see why it's so hated. I believe it made up to IMDb's worst 100 films list, at one point. 

Movie Poster Mondays

Italian poster for REVAK THE REBEL (or Revak the Barbarian)

Now if only the film had been as exciting as the poster. The army depicted in the artwork is nothing like how it is in the film. And Jack is not that muscular more on the scrawny side. Oh well...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Off for the Weekend!

I won't be posting this weekend so see you on Monday!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Photo of the Day


As spectacular as the sets were in the last hour in Rome, the sets during the first hour set in Vinodbona were hopelessly unconvincing. They basically looked like, well, sets. This photo is a great example.

After they were PEPLUM stars

Gordon Mitchell pays a visit to Steve Reeves on the set of A LONG RIDE FROM HELL. 

Gordon was making a Spaghetti Western for the same studio that day and they took this photo. This photo is priceless as both PEPLUM stars never worked together when they made their Sword & Sandal films. Thanks to Pasquale for the photo.

Greek God of the Month: Apollo (week 4)


 As important as he was in the pantheon of Greek gods, Apollo is remarkably absent in popular culture. Here are the few examples:

Ray Crash Corrigan (billed as Raymond Benard) was cinema's first major screen appearance of Apollo. The whimsical comedy has Greek gods coming to life for one night. Ray was a great choice unfortunately he's not the main character so he's seen fleetingly here and there.

Apollo is seen briefly in the Beethoven Pastoral symphony segment in FANTASIA

Michael Forest was Apollo in a STAR TREK episode called "Who Mourns for Adonais?"

This TV episode is probably the only reasonable interpretation of the Sun god.

Apollo in comic book form

Apollo (Corey Sevier, sitting) made an appearance in IMMORTALS no matter how fleeting it was.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Photo of the Day

Rod Steiger and Claire Bloom are in a simulation of the Medieval period in THE ILLUSTRATED MAN

Like the Holodeck in STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, this part of THE ILLUSTRATED MAN has the kids of Steiger and Bloom escaping in computer generated worlds which turn out be deadly. 

Upcoming project: HERCULES UNBOUND

From the David DeCoteau company which specializes in showing off buff men in skimpy clothes

Before finding that niche David made several low budget films for Charles Band and others. I've seen some of them and they are the worst films ever (TOTEM is probably one of the worst films I've ever seen).  After the huge success with VOODOO ACADEMY, David focused only beefcake flicks with HERCULES UNBOUND being his first foray in the PEPLUM genre (I think). I'll probably see it as I watch anything even if I'm certain it's going to be less than stellar. The thing I'm curious about it is will there actually be any action (sword fights, fist fights, etc) involved in the story or simply a bunch of guys walking around wearing next to nothing. Arf.


It's been a while since I posted covers of French Fotonovelas, so here are a few titles.


THE TRIUMPH OF MACISTE (aka Triumph of the Son of Hercules)

I like this one!

CONQUEROR OF CORINTH (aka The Centurion)


DUEL OF THE TITANS (aka Romulus & Remus)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Photo of the Day

Steve Reeves, as Romulus, in DUEL OF THE TITANS (aka Romulus & Remus)

No Disneyfication of the hero here. Not as brutal or overly macho as today's PEPLUM productions but not Disney too. It's just right combination. 


"DISNEYFICATION OF A HERO" by Patrick McGrath Muñiz

David the Gladiator

So the image I posted yesterday is a scan from this magazine. Jim, Steven, Pasquale at Facebook and others who've emailed me confirmed it's Dave Draper. He was David the Gladiator for a TV show that featured PEPLUM films and he was the host. It was broadcast in the early 1960s in L.A..

Even if he never was a Sword & Sandal star Dave did appear in a few films, including the wacky LORD LOVE A DUCK.

(are muscle men really undersexed? lol!)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Photo of the Day

Marilù Tolo has to walk through a test in SHEHERAZADE, one of the rarest PEPLUM films ever. A nice viewer of PEPLUM TV told me where to get it. I thanked her immensely has I've been wanting to see it for a very long time.

Vintage Bodybuilder as Gladiator

He looks like Reg Lewis but I doubt it's him. Can someone confirm or id him?

PEPLUM inspiration in Hollywood films

The giant floating head in ZARDOZ (1974; below) was most likely "inspired" by the giant built-in-the-wall head in ULYSSES AGAINST HERCULES (1962; above). Aside from the eyes and the "mullet" in the Exterminator god, it's almost identical. 

Model of the head from ZARDOZ

Monday, February 20, 2012

Photo of the Day

Ugo Tognazzi as Trimalchione in SATYRICON

Not to be confused with Fellini's version, this one was made and finished before the big Fellini one but United Artist bought the distribution rights of this one and kept it out of theatres before Fellini's version was released. It was embroiled in legal matters but because it's based on works that are in the public domain and the director of this one registered the title SATYRICON first, Fellini and United Artist couldn't do anything against it so their title officially became FELLINI'S SATYRICON.

IMO, it's pretty good. I have it and it's in Italian only, no subs so I'm missing a lot of info regarding the dialogue but the story resembles the Felllini one which I've seen several times and in the end it's not to difficult to understand. There are some great scenes in this film. It shouldn't be dismissed.

Movie Poster Mondays

Spanish poster for SPARTACUS & THE 10 GLADIATORS. Beautiful art (even if the artist didn't really capture's Dan's facial features).

Anachronisms and Goofs

In the screenshot above from SIGN OF THE GLADIATOR, Georges Marchal is secretly listening to some conversation going on inside the tent. This shot shows how the tent's material and rope and attachments are too modern and not the kind one would find in Antiquity.

In SALOME, Cedrick Harwicke is supposed to be sitting on a marble chair on top of a marble platform but when the actors walk on the steps, you can hear it's wood and hollow. The wood was painted to make it look like marble. Because it's an audio goof, you have to take my work for it. Every time I see this scene the illusion of grandeur is shattered: cheap wood. They could have easily fixed this in post production.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Photo of the Day

Robert Hossein and Sophia Loren in MADAME SANS-GENE, a rowdy French farce which takes place during Napoleonic times.

I just played it on PEPLUM TV. Very talkative film and it's ONLY available in French with English subs which makes it a hard film to enjoy because it's like reading a book. I liked it as it was easy for me to follow as I understand French but I was exhausted from listening to it. Almost no quiet moments in it. Excellent production design and it's Sophia's voice in French.


IMMORTALS DVD will be released on March 6, in a little more than 2 weeks from today.

I didn't see this film in theatres which seems was released just yesterday. The dates between a movie's release in theatres and the home market are getting shorter and shorter and Hollywood wonders why folks are not going to movies anymore. And because most theatres are digital projections, like the same on your flatscreen tvs at home, the novelty of going to the movies is quickly dwindling. My 2 cents.