Sunday, July 29, 2012

PEPLUM Blog break

Photo of the Day

Hercules (Kirk Morris) gets to know Princess Virna (Luciana Gilli) in CONQUEROR OF ATLANTIS

This is a fun film but with a few quibbles. The film starts with Herc washing up on shore after a shipwreck (cliché!) and is rescued by a nomadic Arab tribe.

Here are my quick personal notes on this film:

1 - Herc looses his usual gear and wears pants, while still shirtless, throughout the film. IMO, they should have kept Kirk wearing the Hercules clothes. When he wears pants he looked like a pretty awesome Flash Gordon but not a Greek hero. The contrast, Herc vs Arabs or Atlantean, would have been cool but this being one of the last PEPLUM films made (in 1965) and the trend was moving away from all things HERCULEAN well it's not surprising that they made this decision. I wished they didn't.

2 - In this shot, the camel in the back is having some sort of difficulty. The cast probably laughed and had to redo the shot. It's quite funny once you notice it

3 - The Arab tribe, with horses and camels and such, is actually recycled throughout the film, certainly during the opening credits, when we see a procession of the same people walking in front of the camera.

4 - The film is 90 minutes long but Herc and friend only reach Atlantis 40 minutes into the film, which gives the impression of unnecessary padding.

5 - The German trailer, not from the 60s but made for the DVD release, is one of my favorite unintentionally funny trailers ever made. I play it often on PEPLUM TV. You can view it here which I've uploaded at my Youtube channel.

6 - The Something Weird version of this film is horrendous and there's a big ass SWV logo at the bottom right corner. Avoid at all cost.

7 - Someone made a Fan Dub of this in a widescreen version and it's good (a thousand times better than the SWV copy) but sometimes the voices do not match the action. I wonder who made this though.

8 - Location filming is fantastic.

9 - The cast is cute, certainly with Kirk, baby faced Luciana Gilli and the non-threatening Atlantean female guards. Hélène Chanel, who is usually cute, is made to look older in this and is not cute.

10 - The creation of the robotic male soldiers is filled with staggering sexual innuendo, certainly staggering for a family film.

11 - This is one of 4 PEP films Kirk made with Hélène Chanel, with the other three being: MACISTE IN HELL, MACISTE IN THE VALLEY OF THUNDERING ECHO and DESERT RAIDERS (Il dominatore del deserto), which I haven't seen.

12 - I have 4 versions of this film: the awful SWV version in English; a special "Fan Fix" version I created without the SWV logo; the German DVD version, in widescreen; and the mysterious Fan Dub version in widescreen and in English.

Fantasy Casting

One of the strangest things about the PEPLUM explosion of the mid-1950s to mid-1960s was the casting opportunity that never occured: Even though Gianna Maria Canale, the Queen of Cinecitta, and Steve Reeves, the King of PEPs, appeared in two films together, HERCULES and SON OF SPARTACUS, they never appeared as lovers in any film. It makes me wonder why Italian producers missed this golden opportunity. If there was a man and a woman who should have been on-screen lovers, it's these two. But alas, it never happened. A HUGE oversight.

Perfect PEPLUM programming

Yesterday PEPLUM TV was on all day and it was probably one of the best bits of programming I ever did. The theme was Challenges or anything to do with competitions, in regards to the current Olympics and such. From memory I created the list of Greco-Roman themed films I would show and started with:

1 - MY SON THE HERO (aka Sons of Thunder)


I started PEPLUM TV programming with MY SON THE HERO followed by another whimsical PEPLUM, SAMSON & THE MIGHTY CHALLENGE and continued along with the goofy PEPs with COLOSSUS AND THE AMAZON QUEEN. Pretty even films and smooth sailing up to now. All of these films have competitions in them.


I followed COLOSSUS with THE GIANT OF MARATHON, starring Steve Reeves and Daniela Rocca, who's in both films. Good transition, from comedy to serious action film.


But then things got eerily perfect: after GIANT I followed it with a widescreen presentation of FURY OF ACHILLES. So far so good. Both films have Olympic-style competitions in them.


But then the best occurred: after FURY OF ACHILLES I played THE TROJAN HORSE. What's amazing about this is that where FURY leaves off TROJAN HORSE continues almost at the same spot of the story. There's some overlapping between the stories and of course the actors are not the same but seriously this was amazing. I honestly recommend you to watch FURY OF ACHILLES followed by THE TROJAN HORSE. It's a nearly perfect double feature. And it fills in the story smoothly in 3 hours, and it's so much better than the recent TROY.


Of course, I followed THE TROJAN HORSE with its sequel WAR OF THE TROJANS (or The Avenger). Again, almost seamless transition...but that's not all...

7 - WAR OF THE TROJANS (aka The Avenger)

WAR OF THE TROJANS ends with Aeneas (Steve Reeves) and the founding of Rome so I followed this with DUEL OF THE TITANS which of course is the story of Romulus and Remus and the founding of Rome. Absolutely perfect. If you have all of these films I recommend you watching them in this order. If you don't have all of them, at least watch FURY OF ACHILLES and THE TROJAN HORSE as a double feature. It's seriously great.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Photo of the Day

In order to save his country, Phillipides (Steve Reeves) is about to embark on the harshest run of his life in THE GIANT OF MARATHON

One of the few films centered around the Olympics and yet its never shown when the Olympics start. TCM should play this film but it never does.

Then & Now: Micheline Presle

Micheline Presle in SINS OF POMPEII (Les Derniers Jours de Pompei); Micheline today

SINS OF POMPEII was released 62 years ago!!! Micheline will be 90 years old in August 2012. According to IMDb, Micheline's first film was in 1937!

SPARTACUS portraits

These portraits were made into half-sheet posters for the extensive publicity campaign for SPARTACUS. Pretty cool stuff.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Photo of the Day

Kindar (Mark Forest) really shows Siro (Renato Rossini aka Howard Ross) who's the boss in KINDAR THE INVULNERABLE

Both buff men share a secret in the film which is revealed in a sort of original fashion. One of my favorite PEPLUM flicks evah.

Partying PEPLUM stars

Eternal PEPLUM couple Mickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield entertain at some party with a fleshy display of acrobatics.

Lobby Cards set : HERCULES (German)

Action packed German lobby cards set of HERCULES. It's action, action, action. No sight of Gianna or Sylva, or anything else but action which is cool but a bit repetitive. Could have used some scenes like Hercules standing next to Castor and Pollux. A bit disappointing on this aspect but the photos are so good that it's still top notch, certainly cards number 5 and 8.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Photo of the Day

Frixos (Dante DiPaolo) watches Mars (Roger Browne) take his golden lightning bolts from his armour in MARS GOD OF WAR

This scene was cut from the US version. It's sorta important because we see how Mars befriends Frixos. It also shows where Mars kept his lightning bolts given by Zeus. But it's sorta understandable the scene was cut as Roger strips down nearly naked and US distributors probably thought it was inappropriate for a family film.

Trivia: Dante would marry Rosemary Clooney and is related to George Clooney and Roger would make Eurospy films and Italian exploitation films in the 1970s (see below). Both men are still alive.

The 3 Gladiatrices

(sorta looks like Britney Spears, Beyonce and Pink...arf)

PEPLUM X connection

I was watching the groovy opening credits to the infamous 1970s XXX (and then some) EMANUELLE IN AMERICA on Youtube (it's censored, here) and I'm always impressed by its PEPLUM pedigree. I took some screenshots of the credits just to show. When I watched this film for the first time several years ago (I watch everything Italian) I didn't even realize the connection. It's amazing that in a 15 year span Italian cinema went from films like MARS THE GOD OF WAR to over-the-top "grindhouse" films like this one.

Laura Gemser was too young to appear in films during the PEPLUM explosion of the late 1950s/60s but she starred in CALIGULA inspired knock-offs in the 1980s such as CALIGULA : THE UNTOLD STORY. Laura would be married to Gabriele Tinti...


Gabriele Tinti appeared in several films in the 1960s, including ULYSSES AGAINST HERCULES


Roger Browne was a veteran actor of PEPLUM films, including 7 SLAVES AGAINST THE WORLD

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Photo of the Day

The bloody aftermath of the battle at the end of SOLOMON & SHEBA

This is a mini SOLOMON & SHEBA day at the blog.

SOLOMON & SHEBA was plagued with problems, including the sudden death of Tyrone Power who was set to play King Solomon. The ending is also controversial. Personally speaking I would have preferred if they had just shown the soldiers heading toward the cliff/ravine and then cut to this scene. The sight of the little puppet soldiers, horses and chariots being thrown off the cliff wasn't too convincing. It would have been much more powerful this way.

Tyrone or Yul?

Who do you think was better cast as Solomon and matched up with Gina Lollobrigida...Tyrone Power or Yul Brynner?

I haven't seen any clips of the stuff they shot with Tyrone and Gina so I can't say but I do know that Gina and Yul have very little chemistry in the final film. Maybe Tyrone's death affected everyone. 

The Epic That Nearly Was...

It's amazing what one can find on them interwebs. Here's a magazine article on the production of SOLOMON & SHEBA with Tyrone Power, who died while making the film.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Photo of the Day

Princess Jehnna (Olivia d'Abo) is about to inadvertently fulfil the evil plans of Queen Tamaris (Sarah Douglas, left) in CONAN THE DESTROYER

I like this entire scene. It's filled with obvious silly sexual symbolism but even so it's quite a bit of fun nonsense. And Sarah Douglas is fabulous as an Evil Queen type.


Here's a glimpse of all the PEPLUM stuff Larry Anderson has collected over the years. Quite impressive (assuming the boxes are filled with other memorabilia).

First Olympics

2788 years ago took place the first official Olympics, in 776 BC. The sporting event lasted several centuries before it disappeared for several more centuries only to be resurrected in 1894. The XXX Olympiad will start this Friday July 27th in London, England.

It's quite amazing that a tradition that's nearly 3000 years old is still celebrated albeit in a much different fashion.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Photo of the Day

Hercules (Mark Forest) makes sure things bend to his way in HERCULES AGAINST THE BARBARIANS

I've already posted a screenshot of this a few years ago and also made a banner out of that screenshot (here) but this is an official publicity photo of this scene which has more vertical information in it. Cool shot.

Uploaded to the HEROES & BEEFCAKE page.

Movie Poster Mondays

Italian fotobusta for THE MIGHTY CRUSADERS

I really love this! It's not as crazy as the one for THEODORA SLAVE EMPRESS (here) but still quite wonderful. It showcases the lovely female cast. As I've mentioned before, MIGHTY CRUSADERS is sorta a twin to HERCULES (1958) as a big part of the cast and locations are identical. You can watch the entire film at my With FIRE & SWORD channel here.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Photo of the Day

Hercules (Reg Park) pleads to his father, Zeus, to help him save Deianira (Leonora Ruffo) from the dark side in HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD

"Oh omnipotent Zeus..."

Name the movie!

I usually show a screenshot from a film for this but thought the artwork for a VHS tape would be a fun change. Can you identify which movie this is supposed to be according to the wild art?

Update: here's the complete cover

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Photo of the Day


No, he's not modelling some new fashion accessory. This photo shows Ed readying up for a series of deadly challenges he needs to go through. This scene is great and probabbly Ed's best PEPLUM. Only available in Italian for now, this film is also one of my Holy Grails.

Uploaded to the HEROES & BEEFCAKE page.

Vintage magazine article on Chelo Alonso

Hmm...I don't think Chelo would appreciate it being called a Quickie Queen.

Uploaded yo the BABES & BEAUTIES page

Friday, July 20, 2012

Photo of the Day

Dejanira (Leonora Ruffo) and Goliath (aka Hercules; Mark Forest) try some tender loving care in GOLIATH AND THE DRAGON

Good idea. I'll try some too.

Uploaded to the HEROES & BEEFCAKE page.


As I've already mentioned on this blog, my love for all things PEPLUM started when I was a teen and saw CAESAR & CLEOPATRA, a film that everyone seems to hate except me. The one thing I really love from this subtle super-production were the special effects which are some of the best I've ever seen. I've watched this film countless of times and up to this day I couldn't tell you how they achieved the fx shown in the first photo. The huge lighthouse looks totally real in the film. I thought "they actually built such a huge set just for a few seconds?" Now I got the answer with this photo: it wasn't a painted matte shot but a model (or a small set) in the foreground filmed with the live action in the background. The execution is so good it's flawless.

Here are two photos of a scene: one of a partially finished shot (above) and the other with the completed shot (below) including the statue added in the foreground. Love it.

 A matte shot of the lighthouse of Alexandria

I call this film a subtle super-production because the buildings in Alexandria are so beautifully rendered,  in matte shots or with models, that it really gives this production a stunning gleam of quality.