Thursday, February 28, 2013

Photo of the Day

Hercules (Steve Reeves) is upset in HERCULES UNCHAINED



With the current situation with my beleaguered PEPLUM TV Youtube channel, there are now only 2 videos there. I altered the BY THE GODS! one and re-uploaded it to Youtube. It might be the last one I'll upload there until early fall. I didn't close the channel but simply removed everything because YT sucks.

In the meantime I already created a new PEPLUM channel account at DailyMotion, which is not great by any means but regardless I might upload stuff there for a while. I already uploaded the EVENING STAR clip at DailyMotion.

Waldrobe malfunction, PEPLUM style

Actors in PEPLUM films often wear skimpy costumes and wardrobe malfunctions are not uncommon. Here are two examples.

Tina Louise in SIEGE OF SYRACUSE falls on the floor on a ship after being pushed (which causes amnesia) and her brief stunt work inadvertently exposed her right nipple. I wonder how this got past censors.

As for Mark Forest in HERCULES AGAINST THE SONS OF THE SUN, his super short toga meant a lot of inadvertent exposure including this scene during the exciting climax. Oops...

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Photo of the Day


One of the many legendary crowd scenes from the film. It's quite mind boggling when you think about it.

***** I won't be posting anything for a few days or so*****

Vultures, Condors and Hawks, oh my...

Who knew vultures, hawks and condors were such a menace to big string men but in the PEPLUM universe, big birds with big claws


Reg Park tries to fend off Proteus, who has changed into the form of a vulture. It was pretty difficult to grab a satisfactory screenshot from this scene as the vulture kept bobbing all about.


Kirk Morris as Maciste battles with a feisty hawk. 


Edmund Purdom doesn't want to end up as lunch for a condor and become one of the skeletons in the pit. An unintentionally funny scene certainly when the action is sped up.


Pierre Brice and friend are tied and are the target of hungry vultures in this over-the-top scene from this rarely seen film. 


Conan IS lunch for vultures but he'll soon take a bite of the situation.

PEPLUM birthday: Willy Colombini

Willy played Pollux in both Francisci's HERCULES films. He's on Facebook

Friday, February 22, 2013

Photo of the Day

Daniela Rocca scolds fellow Amazonians in COLOSSUS & THE AMAZON QUEEN

This PEPLUM comedy MUST be viewed in widescreen and this screenshot show shows why. When I saw this film I initially thought it was lame but I quickly realized, like in most cases, that the grubby public domain film didn't do the film justice. And when I saw it in widescreen and uncut I was right. This production is a cheesecake and beefcake galore.

Steve Presley

The photo was scratched & damaged and I fixed it the best way possible. Probably the coolest Steve Reeves photo evah.


My dream PEPLUM film would be filmed in TOTALSCOPE. It was popular for 10 years and kicked CinemaScope's distorted butt. I love the logo from GODDESS OF LOVE.

"Years in use: 1956-66; Italy; developed by Henryk Chroscicki; the system had a wide range of anamorphic lenses, from 32mm to 150mm, with hardly any distortion and made CinemaScope almost obsolete in Europe; 450+ features and 1,000+ doc's made use of the system, until it was replaced by Techniscope; a.k.a. Cinetotalscope or Super Totalscope/100; e.g. 'La dolce vita'"






Thursday, February 21, 2013

Photo of the Day

A defiant Balthazar (Piero Lulli) with his acolytes Mursuk (Harold Bradley) and Ura (Moira Orfei) look on at Zairo, King of Persia in HERO OF BABYLON

I recently published a "Photo of the Day" from this film so why another one now? Well, Youtube gave me a strike for uploading this very public domain film at my PEPLUM channel. I've had the main PEPLUM channel since 2007 and it never got a copyright strike. False copyright claims, yes, but never a strike. The strike came from yet another French distribution company which is INSANE since this is an Italian film and the original copyright holders in Italy have more rights than those in France. How come I never hear claims from Italian companies? They probably know they have no such claims in North America.

It's a false and erroneous claim (the company is known to have done this with others on Youtube) but there's nothing I can do about it because Youtube/Google is tone deaf to these kind of things. I was about to upload a new film (Revolt of the Praetorians) but I won't be uploading any full films on that channel until the end of August. I'll probably experiment with a new channel where I can show one film for one week or something like that and then remove it.

Egyptian wrestling hieroglyphics

Last week I mentioned about how the 2020 Olympics might get rid of wrestling as an official competition (link) which has shocked the world. How can they call it the Olympics without wrestling? Anyway, just to show you how universal wrestling here are some Egyptian hieroglyphics showing different positions and techniques they practiced back in the day.


This official still from the QUO VADIS release/promotion accidentally showed an incomplete set (to be completed with matte paintings) and even some crew equipment. The behind-the-scenes photo below basically shows the same thing but without the crew equipment on top of the arch like the photo above. These photos are very cool. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Photo of the Day

Torvald (Jack Palance) wins his third staff of liberty in BARABBAS

The entire gladiator moment in the film is, imo, the best part of it and Jack helps a lot. It almost stands on its own as a completely separate film. And there's something about his character, some underlying aspect, which elevates it from the standard walk-in cameo type of role. I won't speculate what but it's fascinating. His costume in this shot is cool too. Also, and this might be controversial to some but Palance would have made a better Barabbas than Anthony Quinn. 

Steve Reeves' 80s workout

Facebook friend Pasquale posted these images and I just had to share these on the PEPLUM blog. That's Audrey Landers (!) watching Steve workout. The Giant of marathon getting physical. He was still in excellent form.

Archimedes' heat rays recreated in 1973

Archimedes' heat rays is the stuff of legends. Was it real or a fable? A Greek scientist Ioannis Sakkas carried a test in 1973. From Wikipedia:

"The experiment took place at the Skaramagas naval base outside Athens. On this occasion 70 mirrors were used, each with a copper coating and a size of around five by three feet (1.5 by 1 m). The mirrors were pointed at a plywood mock-up of a Roman warship at a distance of around 160 feet (50 m). When the mirrors were focused accurately, the ship burst into flames within a few seconds. The plywood ship had a coating of tar paint, which may have aided combustion. A coating of tar would have been commonplace on ships in the classical era."

Below are two photos taken during the experiment. Not as spectacular as the heat rays in SIEGE OF SYRACUSE but cool nonetheless.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Photo of the Day

Hercules (Gordon Scott) is ready for action in HERCULES & THE PRINCESS OF TROY

PEPLUM perfection!

Ugliest PEPLUM star?

Two years ago I made a post about THE UGLY from the PEPLUM genre (here it's one of my favorite posts) and I somehow forgot to include this fellow from THIEF OF BAGDAD (who's name is unknown). My bad.


This is an odd special effects moment from TRIUMPH OF HERCULES. Dan Vadis and Pierre Cressoy are walking on some volcano ledge and Cressoy falls down unto some flames below. It's a combination of puppets, models, matte painting, forced perspective and a bunch of flames. It's bizarrely cute.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Photo of the Day

Alan Ladd in action in DUEL OF CHAMPIONS

The title on original movie posters say DUEL OF CHAMPIONS but by today, with so many mistakes made since then, it's now often known as DUEL OF THE CHAMPIONS. Alan Ladd was one of many big Hollywood names who's star was fading and went to Italy to make films, including a PEPLUM like this one. This film has the distinction of having a then famous director attached to it, Terence Young (THUNDERBALL) directing the English version, and with some solid production values but it's often dismissed. 

The grubby looking public domain version available everywhere in North America is barely watchable, which doesn't help its reputation. I've see a beautiful transfer of this and it makes a big difference. The other problem is the running time, which ranges from 85 minutes to 105 minutes, the latter being the rarest and most sought after version. I'm looking for it and if I find it, and let you know what's different from the US copy.

Many also said that Ladd was too old for this kind of film (he was 48 years old) and he does look tired in many scenes. Ladd died just a couple of years after making this.

Movie Poster Mondays

French poster for Italian PEPLUM production called L'APOCALISSE

Beautiful. I posted a "Photo of the Day" from this film a few weeks ago. I'd love to see this film.

NERO'S BIG WEEKEND - Dance sequence - Brigitte Bardot

I uploaded this brief dance sequence with a young Brigitte Bardot from NERO'S BIG WEEKEND

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Photo of the Day

Daniela Rocca and Antonio Cifariello are lovers in THE MERCENARIES

The film also stars Debra Paget and Yvonne Sanson who are also after Cifariello. Rarely seen film. It's nice to see Daniela in a different setting than the usual Greco-Roman-Biblical stories.

Moloch identified

There's always been a debate on who was the actor/stuntman behind Moloch from HERCULES AGAINST MOLOCH and it was wildly rumored to be Mario Novelli but never confirmed. Well, it's now without a doubt former wrestler Pietro Marascalchi, seen above on the left from 7 SLAVES AGAINST THE WORLD, was the actual actor. Their bodies, including chest hair, match. Pietro's name is in the opening credits for HERCULES VS MOLOCH and he's credited at IMDb as well. Another mystery is solved by PEPLUM TV.

Ennio Girolami RIP

Italian actor Ennio Girolami (born Enio) died on February 16 after a brief illness. Ennio played Patroclus in FURY OF ACHILLES, holding his own against Gordon Mitchell. Ennio starred in over 80 films ranging from Fellini's NIGHT OF CABIRIA to Spaghetti Westerns and Mad Max knock-offs in the 1980s.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Photo of the Day

Maciste (Kirk Morris) fights to the death with Goliath (Koloss) in MACISTE - AVENGER OF THE MAYAS

A new acquisition I just got today! Probably the rarest title of the PEPLUM genre, I've been trying to find this for MANY years and suddenly in one day, thanks to Eric and also thanks to another source (from Russia), it's suddenly easily available. This is one of the oddest films ever but before going with that this is considered to be the LAST "Musclemen" film of the PEPLUM explosion which started with HERCULES (1958). And man is it ever...hmm...bizarre (I'm trying to be kind). It's a combination of scenes taken from COLOSSUS OF THE STONE AGE (Fire Monster against the Son of Hercules) and the Kirk Morris film COLOSSUS AND THE HEADHUNTERS edited with maybe 30 minutes of new stuff. In the new scenes Kirk wears sorta the same loincloth/wrap and Demeter Bitenc (see below) is also in the new added scenes to match those from his role in HEADHUNTERS.

It's so rare that it has never been dubbed in English. It's fun to watch as a curio but it's quite a mess and poor. The main female character's name is ALOHA. I kid you not. My life is complete!

New acquisitions + Subtitles

I recently got a boatload of new titles or to be more precise upgrades of titles I already had in my ever expanding collection. Most of the upgrades were just the subtitle files for the many movies which are only available in Italian. So getting a hold of these much sought after subtitles was amazing. And to make things better when dealing with subs I found a new software which is able to make the subs readable without being too overwhelming or clunky. I won't post the entire list of titles but here are some examples.

I already had a Fan Sub of SIEGE OF SYRACUSE but with the new subtitle software the subs are more readable.

The super rare FURY OF THE PAGANS with subs

Then there are the extremely rare subs for the Michele Lupo's Gladiator/Slave trilogy. The English dubs of these 3 films seemed to have vanished from the face of the earth so their subs are much appreciated. I can finally watch them with knowing, in details, what's going on even if the films' plot lines were easy to figure out.




Then & Now: Demeter Bitenc

Demeter Bitenc in COLOSSUS & THE HEADHUNTERS(1963); A recent photo Demeter

Friday, February 15, 2013

Photo of the Day

Tony Curtis and Piper Laurie in a publicity still for THE PRINCE WHO WAS A THIEF

One of many Sword & Sandal/Arabian adventures for both Curtis and Laurie. This being one of their earlier genre films (made in 1951). Tony regretted starring in these kind of films and said he wasn't taken seriously as an actor because of them and he wished he had gotten better roles earlier on. As for Piper, she stopped making films in the mid-1960s and had a great comeback role in CARRIE (1976) and was nominated for an Oscar®. Director Rudolph Maté would later direct THE 300 SPARTANS and REVAK THE REBEL.


Jeff Chandler poses with a Roman bust/prop during the filming of SIGN OF THE PAGAN. Cool photo.

Wrong aspect ratio in many PEPLUM films

Most PEPLUM films from the mid-50s to the mid-60s were shot in a widescreen format, whether it was in CinemaScope or Totalscope or EuroScope. The super rectangular format rarely fit on TV screens, even with the current LCD or plasma flatscreens. When they transfer films on a DVD or broadcast it on TV they often have to squeeze the image in order to fit it to a wanted screen size. Here's an example from GOLIATH & THE VAMPIRES from the Wild West DVD. They squeezed the anamorphic image a bit too much on the horizontal making the image, in this example with Gianna Maria Canale, a bit too elongated on the vertical. I added a second image with less of the squeeze effect to show the difference. It's an annoying thing all too prevalent in the PEPLUM genre.

I have a French version of THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE with a stunning clarity but they fit the super-widescreen image seen at the movies in a standard 16x9 format for today's flatscreen TVs. I don't know how anyone can watch a film like this. It makes everyone look like stretched-out aliens.

Above: with forced vertical compression and below screenshot from a standard 4:3 copy of THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE without any changes to the image. Stephen looks normal there.