Thursday, August 31, 2017

By the Gods!

Maciste (Kirk Morris) seizes Queen Amoha (Laura Brown) in COLOSSUS & THE HEADHUNTERS  (1963)

This is an odd entry of the PEPLUM genre. Many of the cast, like Laura, only made a couple of films or no other production. Who they were or what happened to them is a mystery. The story itself is difficult to categorize : Is it jungle adventure? What time period does it take place? Etc. The film starts with a volcano scene from COLOSSUS OF THE STONE AGE but then proceeds to an altogether different setting and time. It's not one of the best PEPLUM productions but I find it vastly entertaining, many times in a 'it's so bad it's good' way. Also, Kirk is in top form here which helps a lot. As if things weren't odd enough already, a big part of this film was re-edited into another movie called MACISTE - AVENGER OF THE MAYANS (1965), which makes this film look like a masterpiece.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

By the Gods!

Prince Said (Ricardo Montalbano) and Princess Amina (Carmen Sevilla) fall in love in DESERT WARRIOR (1957)

Great locations, cast and production. An overlooked adventure film from the 1950s. I've made a FanDub of this and I'll upload to PEPLUM TV in early September (if everything goes right with Youtube).


Director Carlo Campogalliani and Steve Reeves look over some prop during the filming of GOLIATh & THE BARBARIANS (1959)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

By the Gods!

Caesar (Cameron Mitchell) recites a special letter to be written down in CAESAR THE CONQUEROR (1962)

I like scenes like this one. The day to day activities of life and work in ancient Rome. In this scene, Caesar is dictating a letter to a lover, which sorta embarrass the men taking note. If I'm correct they were called Amanuensis. Good film. Some find it underwhelming but I like the simple approach to the story. Not everything needs to be epic. 

Identify the movie!

Can you identify the film from this screenshot?

It's from THE TARTARS (1961)

Monday, August 28, 2017

By the Gods!

Ursus (Ed Fury) is tested during a feat of strength / endurance from URSUS IN THE LAND OF FIRE (1963)

That should be Luciana Gilli as the woman tied between chariots, even though it might be a stunt double. This scene is one of the most over-the-top 'feat of strength' scenes in any PEPLUM film. Because of the difficulty of setting up this moment, the camera work is too often discretionary to get a full view of what's going on. This is one of the rare full shots of the event. The entire moment in this scene is action packed. I like this film. The Ursus films were filled with more villains, and violence and treachery than any PEPLUM series. I'll do a Fan Dub of this soon enough. It will be uncut, unlike the one available on the internet now.

Movie Poster Mondays

German poster of THE NORMANS (1962)

This poster is deceptive. Cameron Mitchell is the villain in it and he's definitely not protecting Geneviève Grad. Even so, I like it. I've made a Fan Dub of this and uploaded to PEPLUM TV. It will have its official launch this week.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

By the Gods!

Liana Orfei in THE TARTARS (1961)

In this scene, the captured Liana is drugged and then taken advantage by evil Burundai, played by Orson Welles. Drugging people is a cliché in PEPLUM films. Always have been. But today, it would be a no no. This entire scene, with dancers and taking place in a spectacular setting, is the highlight of the movie. What's odd is that Liana and Orson never share screen time together, even is they are just a few feet away from each other. Really annoying!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

By the Gods!

Orgy / feast scene from JULIUS CAESAR AGAINST THE PIRATES (1962)

It's always fun to see what PEPLUM movies got away with back in da day with these scenes. They might appear tame by today's standards but they were...hmm...revealing over 50 years ago. Director Sergio Grieco always had a not-so-subtle approach to sexy scenes in his films, including SALAMMBO (1960).


Behind the scenes photo from HERCULES (1958) with Gabriele Antonini and Steve Reeves rehearsing. Below is the scene as it appears in the movie.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

By the Gods!

Obro (Gordon Mitchell) tries to save Elmos (Marietto) in GIANT OF METROPOLIS (1961)

A combo PEPLUM and Sci-fi genres. And it works. It's a dark, brooding movie with a cult status. Many comic book artists love this film because of the use of lighting and shadows, composition, etc, which resembles comic book art. This is definitely one of the better Mitchell films, who churned them out fast, of any genre (Spy, westerns, etc). At one point he was fed up with making films in Europe and left for good. His best films are, imo, the ones he made of the PEPLUM genre. I did a Fan Dub of this a couple of years ago and the results are great. Coming soon to PEPLUM TV (if everything works out with Youtube of course).

Then & Now : Sandahl Bergman

Sandahl in CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982) ; a recent photo of her

Monday, August 21, 2017

By the Gods!

Wolf Ruvinskis, as Argos (far right), inspects his fellow Martians in SANTO VS THE MARTIANS (1967)

From left : Eva Nerving (Selene), Gilda Mires (Artemis), Belinda Corel (Diana), Beny Galán (Hercules), Ham Lee (Morpheus) and El Nazi (Cronos).

The martians think that changing into mythological figures is blending in with humans. This scene is cute but sorta pointless since they almost never show up like this in the rest of the film. I guess they wanted to capitalize on the PEPLUM craze even though that craze was pretty much over in 1967.

Movie Poster Mondays

Italian poster of SPARTACUS & THE TEN GLADIATORS (1964)

Amazing poster!

Friday, August 18, 2017

By the Gods!

Renato Baldini and Gianna Maria Canale are tempestuous lovers in THEODORA - SLAVE EMPRESS (1954)

This film often gets polarized reactions : detractors find it absolutely ridiculous while fans believe it's absolutely sublime. It's sorta both actually. There are really over-the-top, quasi ridiculous scenes in it, such as Theodora in a chariot race. Historically, it never happened. Events happened at the Hippodrome which was part of the legendary riots between the Blues and Greens but the Empress never participated in a race. But I think this is what makes this film so memorable. Some might find it too campy in this regard but to me that's not necessarily bad. I think director Riccardo Freda wanted to boost the mythological aspects of the real Theodora and what's more amazing than a woman winning a chariot race? Gianna Maria Canale was married to Freda, which adds some fun meta aspects to the entire creative production. A playful Canale is always in control of the role. She's never overwhelmed by it. While Renato Baldini is unforgettable as her scorned lover. His role in this is one of my favourite things. He's the simple, unsophisticated lustful 'barbarian' who has only one thing on his mind : sex. The two are actually pretty much alike. Historical inaccuracies aside, I really enjoy watching this movie. The only negative things are the way animals were treated in it and the fact that it was not filmed in widescreen.

Retro Friday : Location - The Monsters of Bomarzo

(originally posted May 2012)

A park in Italy with larger than life sculptures. The location was sometimes used in PEPLUM films, like THE ADVENTURES OF HERCULES (last photo). Looks like a cool place.

Hannibal and his elephant

Thursday, August 17, 2017

By the Gods!

Gino Cervi negotiates a deal with Van Aikens from his roman litter in REVOLT OF THE SLAVES (1960)

That roman litter sure is decked out. Probably the most posh litter in any PEPLUM film, with the one in GOLIATH VS THE GIANTS a close second. I always like these scenes and this one happens at the very start of the film.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

By the Gods!

Cameron Mitchell and Isabelle Corey in THE LAST OF THE VIKINGS (1961)

This is the ending to the film. A very entertaining movie. There were a bunch of Viking films made during this period and this is one of the best. Fighting scenes from this were also re-used in THE NORMANS. Mitchell made tons of films in Europe. As for Isabelle, her career lasted about 5 years before retiring from acting.


Stanley Baker and Anouk Aimee wait for a scene to be ready while filming SODOM & GOMORRAH (1962)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

By the Gods!

Mark Forest as Maciste in MACISTE VS THE MOLE MEN (1961 ; also known as The Strongest Man in the World or Mole Men against the Son of Hercules)

This movie is over-the-top, and that's a good thing. PEPLUM films of the Golden Era were often too timid in going for the startling stuff, well, not this film. There are at least a dozen starling scenes in this odd entry of the genre. The first time I saw this (with a bad copy), I thought to myself, 'Are they serious?' but now after seeing practically every movie made during that period, my admiration for it has skyrocketed. It's definitely Mark's 'crowning' achievement. I give it a ten out of ten. Full movie coming soon to PEPLUM TV.

‘Little Pompeii’ newly discovered in France

Archaeologists working in France have uncovered the remarkable remains of a Roman town from the first century A.D. during an excavation along the Rhone river near Lyon. Their finds are so pristine, in fact, that experts are calling the site a “Little Pompeii,” in reference to another more famous Roman-era city which was preserved like a time capsule beneath layers of volcanic ash after a historic eruption from Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.

This newly discovered residential and commercial complex, which was abandoned after a series of fires in the fourth century, is the once bustling city of Vienne, a notable stop along the route between Northern Gaul and the Roman empire in Southern France’s Gallia Narbonesis.

“We’re unbelievably lucky. This is undoubtedly the most exceptional excavation of a Roman site in 40 or 50 years,” archaeologist Benjamin Clement told the Guardian.

More at the site : Observer

Monday, August 14, 2017

By the Gods!

Cesare Borgia (Cameron Mitchell) dictates his will in front of his 'friends' during a banquet in THE BLACK DUKE (1963)

The cast from left to right : Maria Grazia Spina (back to us), Silvio Bagolini, Dina De Santis and Conrado San Martín. I finally got this rare film on DVD, and in English no less, even though my purchase was problematic, to say the least (more on this in a post tomorrow). The cast is a virtual smorgasbord of PEPLUM actors. It's a fun movie, different than the usual stuff. More about Cesare trying to foil his enemies' plans with intelligence and cunning than action. There are action scenes but it's more dialogue than anything else. Regardless, I was pleasantly surprised by this production, and Mitchell gives an excellent performance. The story has a sardonic tone to it which I enjoyed.

Movie Poster Mondays

US poster for the Italian film QUO VADIS? (1912)

This poster is registered in the year 1913. It says at the very bottom that this is to be used for cinemas in New York city, Chicago and St-Louis. In the 1951 film made by MGM, Lygia is not bound to a bull but to a post, which, imo, was wrong. This is so much more dramatic.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

By the Gods!

Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is left for dead in CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982)

One of the movies that brought on a second wave of PEPLUM films in the 1980s. They were called Sword & Sorcery but no one calls them that today. It and its sequel inspired tons of low budget movies, made in  the US and in Italy, for more than a decade. Personally, I thought it was way too slow and uninvolving. Regardless, it made a star out of Ahnuld. A sequel to the two films, called THE LEGEND OF CONAN, has been in the works for decades. It's still listed at IMDb.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

By the Gods!

Malik (Giovanna Galletti) assists her Queen (Anouk Aimée) from her roman litter in SODOM & GOMORRA (1962)

That's Pier Angeli and a dismounting Stanley Baker behind Anouk. The slave at her feet is uncredited. I doubt a roman litter looked like that back in the day but it makes for an entertaining presentation. It just doesn't cover enough, certainly with a scorching sun above. I also don't think roman litters were called roman litters when this story took place, just litter. The mileage on this must be very low.

Part of the PEPLUM clichés series


A month or so ago I posted a screenshot of Gordon Scott battling with the monster from HERCULES AND THE PRINCESS OF TROY (1965). Here's an article on some of the behind-the-scenes action from this production. It's from Castle of Frankenstein magazine (thanks to HSC).

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

By the Gods!


This movie is a 'twin production' with MACISTE - GLADIATOR OF SPARTA (1964) which was released first in 1964. It's sometimes hard to tell them apart, even for me. The only big difference between those two films : SPARTA is more 'serious' and 'religious' than MAGNIFICENT. I mean, both productions have Marilù Tolo. A lot of the supporting cast is identical. The same fighting scenes appear in both movies. I personally prefer this one over SPARTA but just slightly. There are some stand-out scenes in SPARTA, including a fight between Forest and a gorilla in the Arena. Honestly, there's almost no difference between the two films but MAGNIFICENT is more sexy and breezy, not as slow. Forest's second to last film before retiring from the world of cinema.

PEPLUM Cliché : Unrequited love!

One of the biggest clichés of the PEPLUM genre is not a muscular hero heaving boulders or bending metal but that of unrequited love. I'd say nearly all films of the PEPLUM genre has this cliché or some variation of it. Since the lead is most often male, the one doing the pinning is a woman. But there are many stories were the lonely Queen is being wooed by a man who wants nothing but be her husband (and ascend to power!).

Here's just a small sample of titles with this cliché.

Posted at the permanent PEPLUM cliché page

Sinuhe (Edmund Purdom) pins for Nefer (Bella Darvi) in THE EGYPTIAN (1954)

The movie's entire story is based on the unrequited love Sinuhe has for Nefer, who leads him to spiritual and financial disaster. Purdom also starred in THE PRODIGAL (1955), another story of a man abandoning everything for a woman.

Astra (Gianna Maria Canale) wants Goliath (Gordon Scott ; Maciste in original) in GOLIATH & THE VAMPIRES (1961)

In one of the most intense and sometimes bizarre 'love' story, the human side of the often evil Astra shines through with her adoration for Goliath.

Kirk Morris and Hélène Chanel in MACISTE IN HELL (1962)

Almost all of Kirk's films has a woman pinning for him while he remains aloof and distant.

Cameron Mitchell and Franca in THE NORMANS (1962)

Mitchell's character is after the Queen, who keeps her distance.

Queen Smedes (Chelo Alonso) pines for Maciste (Mark Forest) in SON OF SAMSON (1960)

The Queen wants Maciste and though he briefly enjoys her company, they never live together happily ever after.

Anne Baxter and Charlton Heston in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956)

"Oh Moses, Moses!" says Nefretiri as she longs for Moses' love but he wants nothing to do with her. Classic example of this popular cliché.

Monday, August 7, 2017

By the Gods!

Leonora Ruffo, Gordon Scott and Jacques Sernas are victorious in GOLIATH & THE VAMPIRES (1961)

The ending to this popular PEPLUM film : is it really good? Everyone is dead except for these three. This includes Goliath's entire village. There's something oddly sad about this ending. Yes, Kobrak has been defeated but at what price? Still this is one of the most popular title of the genre. Even those (many) who don't like PEPLUM films like this one.

Movie Poster Mondays

Italian poster of THARUS - SON OF ATTILA (1962)

Great poster. Captures the movie's climax.