Wednesday, November 30, 2016

By the Gods!

A giant mirror weapon is being set-up in preparation for a battle in SIEGE OF SYRACUSE

Epic battle scene at climax of this long but most enjoyable film directed by Pietro Francisci. Probably one of the most epic genre film made in Italy at the time. The idea of mirror weapons invented and created by Archimedes (played by Rossano Brazzi, not shown) is well handled in this : when the battle starts, it is cloudy and the sun is nowhere to be seen so the weapons are powerless. The film was released by Paramount in the US but the English dub track is still missing.


Director Robert Aldrich chitchats with Rossana Podestà and Stanley Baker during the filming of SODOM & GOMORRA

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

By the Gods!

Alain Saury and Belinda Lee in MARIE OF THE ISLES

I have a copy of this film and I tried to watch it but it's in such poor quality that I had to stop. I'll wait to view it in its entirety until I find a better copy. Belinda, who's from Britain, did a number of films in Europe before her untimely death. This is one of them. It's a French - Italian co-production.

Before they were PEPLUM stars

Here's future PEPLUM genre star Lou Degni aka Mark Forest showing how to train one's mid section. Below : Mark in GOLIATH & THE DRAGON

Monday, November 28, 2016

By the Gods!

Hans von Borsody and Antonella Lualdi in MASSACRE IN THE BLACK FOREST

The fellow in the Roman uniform is supposed to be Cameron Mitchell but we never see his face. It's one of the oddest thing in otherwise good production : just with 5 minutes or so remaining of the film, Mitchell, who was previously seen fighting for his life, suddenly disappears and a stand-in takes his place and we never see Mitchell again. Mitchell is main star of the film and yet it ends without showing him. The camera is set-up in a way as not to see who's in the Roman costume. I wonder what happened during the production. I haven't seen any talk about this oddity anywhere on the internet.

Movie Poster Mondays

Italian poster for the film version of the TV mini-series THE ODYSSEY

Interesting take of the (overlong) mini-series. No cyclops or anything else other than Ulysses, Penelope and their son. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

By the Gods!

Channing Tatum in THE EAGLE

Of all the PEPLUM films released recently, this is probably the least offensive of them all. In fact, it's quite realistic looking and it doesn't employ a myriad number of editing techniques loved by too many contemporary filmmakers. Some say it's simply boring. It's good, not great but good.  This was made when Tatum's career was red hot. Today his career is not so hot. Maybe he should revisit the genre.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

By the Gods!

Bekim Fehmiu and Irene Papas in THE ODYSSEY

Bekim is Ulysses and Papas is Penelope. This was a mini-series on Italian TV but it was also edited down and released as a feature film for international markets. I like this production. Not love but like. It's way too long for its own good. This production is the natural progression of the PEPLUM genre that died just a few years before this was made. People didn't want to see these types of films at the movies anymore so a TV mini-series made sense. Bekim had a somewhat short-lived career. I thought he was excellent as Ulysses (better than Kirk Douglas in the 1954 film version). As for Irene Papas, she has had a big film career and has appeared in several genre films and TV productions. Probably the closest to a realistic Greek or Greek-looking couple (I know Bekim is not Greek).


Steve Reeves waits as they set-up a scene in HERCULES UNCHAINED

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

By the Gods!

A behind-the-scenes view of the filming of a PEPLUM film in BOCCACCIO '70

BOCCACCIO '70 is not a PEPLUM film. It consists of 4 short films directed by Monicelli, De Sica, Visconti and Fellini. This scene is from the beginning of the Fellini film. It shows a cheaply made PEPLUM film being made in some public place. Fellini satirized the making of the often considered cheap genre. It's cute. The Hercules here is credited as Giuliano Gemma but his appearance is so fleeting that its hard to say if it's him. Of course, Fellini went on to film an epic PEPLUM film of his own, SATYRICON.

Then & Now : Willy Colombini

Willy in HERCULES (1958) ; a recent appearance of Willy on Italian TV

Monday, November 21, 2016

By the Gods!

Barry Jones and Susan Hayward are Claudius and Messalina in DEMETRIUS & THE GLADIATORS

I didn't much care for Susan Hayward's acting style when I initially saw this film. But I've watched many of her films since, PEPLUM or not, and I've changed my mind for this role. She's pretty good. Yes, her tics and mannerisms are present, which are needlessly distracting, but I now appreciate her take on Messalina. She could have been more cruel but that's how Messalina was written for this film. Barry Jones' British accent in a film with a mostly American cast is also quite distracting.

Good film. Much more PEPLUM-like than its predecessor, THE ROBE. In fact, this is one of the best PEPLUM films made in Hollywood.

Movie Poster Mondays

Spanish poster of REVOLT OF THE SLAVES

Pretty good. Covers everything in the film. It's funny that they put Dario Moreno and Rafael Rivelles on top of the credits. They are supporting actors. Hmm...

Friday, November 18, 2016

By the Gods!

Ruth Roman and Akim Tamiroff in THE SINNER (aka Desert Desperadoes)

There's no trailer or clips anywhere of this 1959 Italian-made PEPLUM. It's one of the rarest titles out there, if not the rarest (aside from lost silent films). I can't critique since I haven't seen it. Where is it?

Retro Friday : It must be a cultural thing...

(originally posted November 2011)

Posters for Italian-made PEPLUM films have a tendency of focusing on something...needless to say, many of these posters wouldn't be approved today 😀

Thursday, November 17, 2016

By the Gods!

Mel Welles, Luciana Gilli and Channing Pollock in THE RED SHEIK

A very odd PEPLUM movie (and that's saying something considering the genre) : excellent production values, amazing location filming, a thoroughly well made film and aside from a few familiar names, it stars mostly unknowns. A real head-scratcher. It's like a one hit wonder. Pollock was a magician in the US. Why did they cast him in this film, I dunno. I like it. It's a sumptuous film to watch. I just wished they actually cast bigger names in the lead roles.


Thrilling gladiatorial action from GLADIATORS SEVEN starring Richard Harrison

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

By the Gods!

Sylvia Syms (in blue) and other women ride horses through a river in AMAZONS OF ROME

This scene must have been difficult to film. 20 or so horses and women riding them through muddy waters. This is one of the best scenes in this interesting misfire. IMO, it's a misfire because of the casting. The leads, Syms and Louis Jourdan, are somewhat okay but they have no chemistry. And Jourdan as a barbarian is a stretch. The supporting cast is much more interesting even if there are a few actors amongst them that are annoying, such as Nicole Courcel who's over-the-top. The film is on Youtube for those who haven't seen it.


Sergio Leone gives some direction to Rory Calhoun during the filming of COLOSSUS OF RHODES

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

By the Gods!

Jerzy Zellik as Ramses XIII in PHARAOH

A film set entirely in Ancient Egypt and filmed entirely in...Poland, of all places. Director Jerzy Kawalerowicz recreated Egypt in his home country, with Polish actors. It's really interesting for this aspect alone. The film is spectacular but, like most art films, detached and a bit cold. Many might decry this as cultural appropriation but then are there any direct descendants of Ancient Egypt who are still alive today?

Interview with Pietro Torrisi

I've found this interview with veteran PEPLUM star Pietro Torrisi on Youtube. It's in Italian but it's fun to watch. Includes clips of his PEPLUM films and many others genres.

Monday, November 14, 2016

By the Gods!

 Carmen Sevilla and Ricardo Montalban in DESERT WARRIOR

Great, old fashioned Arabian-style adventure, filmed on location. I did a Fan Dub of this. I'm thinking of uploading it on Youtube (if they allow many restrictions). Montalbano made several films in Europe and his career never really suffered from this, unlike other actors at the time. It was considered a no-no for Hollywood actors to star in 'lesser' grade European films. Even today, this trend is still sorta the same. It's rare to see big Hollywood movie stars, at the height of their careers, in films made in Europe. It happens but not frequently.

Movie Poster Mondays


One of the best PEPLUM flicks ever. Good poster.

Friday, November 11, 2016

By the Gods!

Nero (Alberto Sordi) sneaks up on Poppea (Brigitte Bardot) in NERO'S BIG WEEKEND (1956)

A PEPLUM comedy with a stellar cast and excellent production values made before HERCULES (1958). I'm fascinated with films made before the Steve Reeves film, whether they were made in Italy or Hollywood. The tone and style of those pre-HERCULES productions are remarkably different than those made after, and this one is no exception. Bardot doesn't really look like the Bardot we all knew soon after the made this. She had a complete make-over. 

Retro Friday : Same harp, different films

(originally posted January 2012)







Thursday, November 10, 2016

By the Gods!

Massimo Girotti and Gianna Maria Canale in SPARTACO : SINS OF ROME

This is my yearly take on this excellent film (I did a Before / After earlier this year). There's a French DVD which is probably the most complete version of this underrated Riccardo Freda. At least a good 25 minutes from the original version was cut for the US version. The film flows so much better in the original cut. Massimo is so commanding as Spartacus and Gianna is so conniving, it's worth watching just for those two actors but there's so much more, including a spectacular arena scene.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

By the Gods!

Steve Reeves, as Randus, discovers he's the SON OF SPARTANS (aka The Slave)

In the story, Randus discovers he's the son of Spartacus after matching his necklace with the objects  which belonged to Spartacus. I like this film. I've watched it many times and I'll watch it many more times but this feeble attempt in connecting Spartacus with his long lost son is not very rousing or convincing. They should have written something more tangible in order to connect him with his rebellious father which would have inspired him to go against Romans. Aside from this weak aspect in the story, and a few other details, this is a top notch PEPLUM.


Arnold Schwarzenegger is hoisted up in the air by Wilt Chamberlain and Andre the Giant during a break of filming CONAN THE DESTROYER

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

By the Gods!

Brigitte Nielsen, as Red Sonja, and Arnold Schwarzenegger in RED SONJA

Can you feel the heat? Not really. This bloated film from the mid-1980s was directed by Richard Fleischer, who also directed CONAN THE DESTROYER. This was one of the director's last films. Fleischer also directed such films as THE VIKINGS and 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA. This film is not that different than the super cheap Italian films made in the 1980s but with a bigger budget.
Not a big fan of it.

Then & Now : Lisa Gastoni

Lisa in THE LAST GLADIATOR ; a recent photo of Lisa (around 2014)

Monday, November 7, 2016

By the Gods!

Franco Balducci and Helga Liné plot the destruction of Babylon in HERCULES AGAINST THE TYRANTS OF BABYLON

The contraction behind the two is was originally built to bring down the entire city with some chains and lotsa pulling. The architects of the past were really ingenious weren't they. The beautiful Helga started her career mainly in PEPLUM films but today she's basically remembered for her so-called Eurocult films of the 1970s. But in my mind, she'll always be one of the Queens of the PEPLUM genre.

Movie Poster Mondays

Italian poster of GOLIATH & THE REBEL SLAVE (also know as The Tyrant of Lydia against the Son of Hercules)

A rare photo montage of the actors instead of some artwork.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

By the Gods!

Annamaria Ubaldi and Richard Harrison fall for each other in THE SARACENS

This is one of Richard's better actioners. The copy I have is sorta odd (image is very cropped) but it's still very entertaining. The score is superb. Richard is a PEPLUM star for sure but he often appeared indifferent in some films. This one doesn't suffer from this. Looking for a good copy of this movie.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

By the Gods!

Reg Park, as Hercules, swings a rock in order to get a rope across the pits of hell in HERCULES IN HAUNTED WORLD

That's George Ardisson next to Reg. If I had to choose between this film (which I think is a tad overrated) and MACISTE IN HELL (which I think is very much underrated), I would choose MACISTE IN HELL. I like this film but it's a static film. In this movie, Mario Bava's camera is always still and rarely fluid or moving along. I think this style suited his horror films more than action films. Visually, it's interesting but it sorta plods along, which is the opposite of MACISTE IN HELL, directed by Riccardo Freda. Freda's version of Hero-in-Hell story is fluid, dream-like and haunting.


Chelo Alonso practicing her dance routine during the filming SIGN OF THE GLADIATOR

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

By the Gods!

Warriors fight in a public arena in DEATHSTALKER

A 1980s Sword & Sorcery trash 'classic,' though classic is not the word I would use to describe this film, which has just about every PEPLUM cliche in its 90 something cheesy minutes, with an extra dose of nudity and sex. Rick Hill (his back to us), is one of the blandest heroes in any genre film. He's fit but aside from his physique he had no presence whatsoever. The bad guy here is one of the most original aspects of this slightly entertaining 'it's so bad it's good' opus. It spawned a countless number of sequels, most of them without Hill.

Then & Now : Raffaella Carrà

 Raffaella in CAESAR THE CONQUEROR ; Raffaella today (she's a famous pop star)