Thursday, July 31, 2014

Photo of the Day

Judith (Isabelle Corey) joins Holophernes (Massimo Girotti, far left) and his men who are watching a fight between a cobra and mongoose in HEAD OF A TYRANT

I like the costumes here, ornate in a Baroque kind of way. Massimo's hair is braided which was rare back then making the already serious looking Massimo look even more severe. The fight between the animals was, unfortunately real, which horrifies Judith. I don't know if Isabelle witnessed the actual deadly fight. I don't want to show it too.

Location : Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, California

Alabama Hills, in California, was the location for THE ADVENTURES OF HAJJI BABA (1954) starring Elaine Stewart and John Derek. The locations were well used even though they didn't look too 'Arabian'.


So I was watching TROY the other night and I just can't believe how many mistakes there are in this big production. Just look at this simple scene: in the top shot, soldiers on foot and horseback are running towards the middle of the field, where the entrance is, with no one coming from the opposite direction but then in the next shot, we see men on horseback galloping wildly where there were none just a second ago. What a sloppy film!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Photo of the Day

The pirate ship from THE PIRATES OF BLOOD RIVER

This is the only shot which indicates that there are pirates from a ship. They added palm trees in the obvious matte painting even though the rest of the film was shot somewhere in the UK, not the Caribbean.

This shot makes me laugh. Talk about penny-pinching filmmaking. This is a Hammer film and one rarely hears how cheap and bad their films are even though they were really low-budget productions but you constantly hear how trashy and stupid Italian PEPLUM films are even though those films had  actual *real* ships and had actual action on said *real* ships. Trashing Italian-made films is just xenophobia and this is just a good example of the double-standard.


Director Mervyn LeRoy has fun with Buddy Baer while filming QUO VADIS.

PEPLUM Rules continues...

posted at the permanent PEPLUM Rules page

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Photo of the Day

Olympius (Anthony Steel) and Galla Placidia (Daniela Rocca) plan some scheme while enjoying the sun in REVENGE OF THE BARBARIANS

One of my favourite PEPLUM films with an unfortunate title. REVENGE OF THE BARBARIANS sounds ominous and bloody but it's actually a pulpy quasi-cerebral story, of brains and cunning over violence and brawn. The title should have been something else, like THE DAYS AND NIGHTS OF GALLA PLACIDIA, which would have been more accurate.

I have this film in 4:3 frame with pristine image and a widescreen version with a somewhat dark, muddy image taken from a British broadcast(screenshot above). I wish the widescreen version was as pristine as the 4:3 one.

It's a rare non-romantic/non-action PEPLUM where the lead is female and controls the direction of the story. Though there is action here and there this is more of a drama than standard action fare. And the drama is surprisingly, at times, sexual and kinky.

In other films Galla Placidia is always portrayed as an evil old woman but not in this story. The folks behind this film were either big Galla Placidia fans, or Daniela Rocca fans and wanted her to have a good lead role. And Daniela doesn't disappoint: she clearly relished the experience of playing the main role.

The verbose dialogue for the English dubbing is, again, surprisingly clever. Good stuff!

Roman soldier gear

Here's what a typical Roman soldier wore back a few thousand years ago. Of course there are some variations depending of the period and who ruled at the time. 

Weekend Box office

LUCY, at $45 million, outmuscled HERCULES, opening at 3,590 theatres, with $29.9 million. Directed by Brett Ratner and starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. The reviews are mixed. Here's a sample:

"The movie is plagued by a split identity: It's half-slog, half-Mel Brooks."

"We still haven't gotten the Hercules film we fully deserve, but this version is entertaining enough."

"While the end result is palpably stupid, it's not as terrible as one might expect."

"...the acting is wooden, the storytelling clunky and the incessant slaughter is less than compelling."

""Hercules" has a rousing beginning. Too bad the movie didn't include more of that."

"A big-budget misfire of a sizeable order, a visually busy but emotionally dead endeavor that wearies the viewer with endless computer generated special effects while failing to provide a scintilla of human interest."

"A turbo-charged update of the Italian sword and sandal epics that Steve Reeves and Reg Park used to make in the Sixties."

"Utterly generic."

Well it's surprising LUCY did so well but I guess THE LEGEND OF HERCULES starring Kellan Lutz maybe diminished the box office strength of this one. I guess there won't be any sequels.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Photo of the Day

Steve Reeves is Captain Morgan in MORGAN THE PIRATE

I recently posted a GIF animation sequence from this film (see here) and after watching the film again I couldn't help but be surprised how young looking Steve appeared even if this was his SEVENTH film he made in a row. Steve looked exhausted and thin in THE GIANT OF MARATHON but I guess he took a nap after that production because he looked much refreshed in this follow-up film. Fun colourful Swashbuckler I could watch a million times.

Movie Poster Mondays

Original Finnish poster for THE MAN WITH 100 SWORDS

Serviceable poster which showcases the film's best asset: the sword fights. I recently posted about this at the blog: here

Friday, July 25, 2014

Photo of the Day

Queen Sharain (Debra Paget) listens to the exotic voice of Karina (Yma Sumac) in OMAR KHAYYAM

Yma Sumac (wiki) was a Peruvian singer with an exotic way of singing and had a wide vocal range which was perfectly suited for the Sword and Sandal genre. Her style of singing was coined 'exotica music'.

Another great week ends so back on Monday!

Vintage article : SAMSON & THE SLAVE QUEEN

Vintage Italian article on SAMSON AND THE SLAVE QUEEN, also known as ZORRO AGAINST MACISTE. With Alan Steel, Moira Orfei and Massimo Serato. Cool photos.

PEPLUM GIF animation : SAMSON and the 7 MIRACLES of the WORLD

Scene from SAMSON & THE 7 MIRACLES OF THE WORLD starring Gordon Scott. The beginning of this scene is not in the US version.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Photo of the Day

Red Sonja (Brigitte Nielsen) listens to her dying sister while Kalidor (Arnold Schwarzenegger) watches on in RED SONJA

Directed by Richard Fleischer, who directed 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA amongst other classic films. Not one of his best efforts. Even though it's fun in a Saturday Matinee type of film the whole production feels tired and uninspired. It's not that different than those cheap Italian CONAN knock-offs from the 1980s, with a bigger budget. The villains' costumes look like Samurai or sci-fi films from Japan. With Nielsen and Schwarzenegger unable to act beyond action scenes, the film needed a much stronger supporting cast to offset the weak acting from the leads. Passable fun but nothing more.

Anachronism : Hair gel for men

Richard Egan in ESTHER AND THE KING. Is it King Ahasuerus or Elvis?

The PEPLUM genre exploded during the late 1950s all the way up to the mid-60s and one popular but quickly fading look for men back then was the whole Brylcreem style which was fine on men in contemporary times but totally anachronistic for stories set in Antiquity. There might have been some product in those days which men used to shape their hair but it certainly didn't look like the pompadour greased-up style.


Rory Calhoun in COLOSSUS OF RHODES...oy!


Kirk Morris is Brylcreem perfection in MACISTE - AVENGER OF MAYANS. As a bonus, Luciano Marin, on the left, also believes in hair gel.

Now you see it now you don't...

Where are The Rock's tattoos in HERCULES? The makeup budget for this film was most likely through the roof! HERCULES opens tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Photo of the Day

The royal representatives of Ethiopia, the King (Woody Strode) and his sister, Princess Tharbis (Esther Brown), in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

"Great King, I will ask but one favor of your friendship. This green stone from our mountains... that I may give it to your prince of Egypt, for he is kind as well as wise." says the Princess to the King.

Today is a mini TEN COMMANDMENTS festival!

Esther was a student at UCLA when she did this film and didn't appear in many films afterwards but Woody Strode would have a solid career after this 1956 film, including playing a slave in SPARTACUS. I like this scene and always wished their roles were expanded but black folks in super-productions were rare 60 years ago in Hollywood. Strode didn't have any dialogue but he didn't need to. A PEPLUM with an entire black cast would be cool.

Then and Now : Debra Paget

Debra in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS; an official photo of Debra from TBN where she appears regularly

Debra is the last remaining major star from THE TEN COMMANDMENTS who's still alive.

Exodus vs The Ten Commandments

Ridley Scott's version of the story of Moses will be released later on this year but for now let's just do a side by side comparison with the two main characters. Which one do you think is better suited for their respective roles?


RAMSES (or Rhamses)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Photo of the Day

Goliath (Arnaldo Fabrizio) teases a Roman soldier (Aldo Pini) in SEVEN SLAVES AGAINST ROME

Little people in PEPLUM films are always good and are always used for comedic purposes. They're sorta like court-jesters of the genre. The majority of PEPLUM films didn't have them (thank god!), Director Michele Lupo, director of this film, had a quasi-obsession with them and the way he used them was always a bit much. Arnaldo's scenes often stop the film in its tracks or take me out of the story.


Continuing with the series of best PEPLUM villains here's GOLIATH AGAINST THE GIANTS. Though it doesn't contain as many villains as THE MIGHTY URSUS or HERCULES UNCHAINED, what this film lacks in numbers make up with its main bad fellow: Bokan played with over-the-top verve by Fernando Rey. He chews so much scenery that no sets were left after this production. Some might think he's overacting...well...he does but then the film wouldn't be as memorable as it would be if Fernando wasn't in it.

Equally evil is his lover (I think) Daina played by Barbara Carroll. Like so many villainess in PEPLUM films Daina's primary role is to give cruel ideas to Koban on how to deal with Goliath or anyone rebelling against the evil ruler. And lastly there are also the Giants from the title. They appear very briefly at the climax. They're sorta goofy looking and not very gigantic but they're one of many fun elements to be viewed in this colourful PEPLUM.

Fernando Rey plays Bokan, the evil ruler dead set against Goliath's return to the city

Barbara Carroll is Daina, Bokan's favourite woman (it's never clear what she is to him). She's evil but all the evil really belongs to Bokan

A quiet moment with Bokan

 Goliath (Brad Harris) had the chance to kill Bokan during the gladiatorial games

Bokan shows no mercy to anyone including the victorious gladiator who is killed by a guard on the order of his leader

The giants finally make an appearance at the end, very briefly. They are underused, to say the least

The end of Bokan...unfortunately, Goliath didn't kill the evil ruler himself

Monday, July 21, 2014

Photo of the Day

Onnos (Germano Longo) and Semiramis (Yvonne Furneaux) eavesdrop on some scheming folks in SLAVE QUEEN OF BABYLON

Though the two are or once were lovers they are not the central players in the doomed love story.   Semiramis is interested in Kir (played by John Ericson, not shown) which makes Onnos jealous. Personally speaking, even though I like Ericson as Kir, Longo and Furneaux had more chemistry and I wished they were the real love story. This film was shot in CinemaScope and this screen grab shows the excellent quality of the film/composition.

Movie Poster Mondays

Original Italian poster for BLOOD AND DEFIANCE

As far as I know I've never seen this film available anywhere in English or Italian. BLOOD AND DEFIANCE is the English title but I don't know if it was released here or played on TV. The film is directed by Nick Nostro, who also directed the last two Ten Gladiators films which I love so I'm sure the action in this film is tops. And with a cast like Gerard Landry, Rosalba Neri and José Greci well it's surely a must see for PEPLUM fans. But alas it's nowhere to be found.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Photo of the Day

The Argonauts from HERCULES (1958)

The actors are: Fulvio Carrara as Pollux, Willy Colombini as Castor, Fabrizio Mioni as Jason, Aldo Pini as Tifi, Steve Reeves as Hercules, Gabriele Antonini as Ulysses, Andrea Fantasia as Laertes and  Gino Mattera as Orpheus.

Great photo! They just don't make films like this anymore.

Back on Monday!

Blog notes

Blog stats

- The blog surpassed the 1.5 million views last week.

- Google+ reached the 4 million views mark, which is insane!

Add the over 6 million views I got at one point with Youtube, before they messed up everything, and that's a total of 11.5 million visits for all my PEPLUM sites/pages since May 2007!

I've decided to discontinue the PEPLUM Tumblr. Few people went there. I guess there are few PEPLUM fans on Tumblr or they don't know how it works. It's no big loss. PEPLUM X is still going strong.


Speaking of Youtube, the annoying folks behind this popular site has decided that ALL videos can be rated, with a thumbs up or thumbs down. Because the PEPLUM genre is such an easy target for the MS3KT crowd out there many have started thumbing down all my videos at PEPLUM TV. Before I could disable this option but Youtube removed the option. I can choose not to display the results but I'm still not happy about this. There are too many haters and trolls out there and the rate-this-video option has always been bad for all my channels. So if you watch one of my videos please press thumbs up even if it doesn't show.

PEPLUM GIF animation

Steve Reeves, as Morgan, getting punished for being unruly in MORGAN THE PIRATE. Valérie Lagrange tells them to stop. Reeves' body double/stuntman Giovanni Cianfriglia is the one holding Steve by the neck. It seems the scene is sped up but it's not. I just edited down to make sure the file is not too large.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Photo of the Day

The ending to MESSALINA (1960)

Not an 'up-with-people' film, the downbeat ending to this film is sorta expected but the morbidness of it, for a film made in 1960, is unexpected. The tone to MESSALINA shifts gears quite often throughout the story: one moments it's kinky; the next moment it's comedic; then it's super serious and finally it's sorta gruesome. Quite an oddity for an Italian PEPLUM film which makes it stand out, for better or worse.


Preston Foster and David Holt watch some rushes in a movieola while filming LAST DAYS OF POMPEII. Great photo.