Thursday, January 31, 2019

By the Gods!

Peter Lupus, as Spartacus, in CHALLENGE OF THE GLADIATOR (1965)

Does he look worried here? A combo 'feat of strength' and 'death trap' clichés, which is one of the highlights of the movie. The scene is fairly short. It's a good scene but it could have been greater if it was longer and Peter didn't look like he was too concern about his dilemma. One of the best Peter Lupus PEPLUM films.


Sorta disappointing lobby card set for DUEL OF THE TITANS (1961). There are many great scenes missing from this set. The spinning torture thingy; the horse run with the fiery obstacles; the wild pagan ceremony at the beginning, etc. This lobby card set is sorta flat. At least it has one card with a barechested Steve.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

By the Gods!

Steve Reeves as Kimbar in KIMBAR OF THE JUNGLE (1949)

That's Virginia Hewitt. This short film (11 minutes or so) was a pilot of sorts for a TV series which wasn't picked up. This is Steve's earliest work in front of the camera. He made a super buff Tarzan  hero. He was 23 years old. I uploaded this to my PEPLUM TV channel if you want to see it (I don't link any videos to my blog anymore).


Behind the scenes photo of Rita Hayworth during the filming of SALOME (1953). Gown designed by Jean Louis.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

By the Gods!

Thundarr, Ookla the Mok and Princess Ariel in THUNDARR THE BARBARIAN (1980-1981)

This cartoon is surprisingly good and quite elaborate for a 'Saturday Morning' production. A live action version of this would be cool. It's part science fiction, part Sword & Sorcery, part PEPLUM. Someone uploaded the entire series to Youtube and I was fortunate enough to have seen it all episodes. From what I can see, the episodes have been removed. Well worth watching.

Blog Notes


Announcing some changes to the blog!

Starting in February, there'll be some changes made to the way I post. This will only be during the month. It's just a test. If things work out great, then I'll keep on doing this way. If not then the blog will return to its regular weekly postings. I'll be testing different ways of doing things here until I'm satisfied with one. 'Article of the Week' will stay the same, maybe once every 5 weeks (after this test). And I'll continue taking time off every 2 months or so.

There are many reasons for this. I like making some changes to the blog every now and then, to keep it from becoming stagnant. I'm also planning on working on several projects, many of which are connected to this blog and my interest in the PEPLUM genre. If everything works out as planned, it'll be quite exciting and surprising. One of the plans is to finally work on the much delayed PEPLUM website (not blog). This is going to take a lot of of my time and concentration on my part to complete but it's going to be worth it. I'm also planning this website to be connected with another project. Anyway, everything is in the works at the moment so stay tuned!

Monday, January 28, 2019

By the Gods!

Alberto Farnese, as Adrasto, and Raf Baldassarre in THE GIANTS OF THESSALY (1960)

In PEPLUM movies, there are villains, like the one Farnese played so well here, and there are the villain's henchman, like the one played here by Baldassarre. I already tried to do a regular series about the genre's best villains but the reaction from readers wasn't stellar so I stopped doing it. Farnese is perfectly evil in this Riccardo Freda film, while Baldassarre is perfect as the henchman. In fact, I'd say that Baldassarre was probably the best henchman of the genre. His presence always elevated the level of the usual one dimensional henchman portrayals. He almost always played bad guy roles, with a couple of exceptions, like the one in GLADIATOR OF ROME (1962). I should do an article on the best henchmen of PEPLUM cinema.

Movie Poster Mondays

Italian poster of OK NERO! (1951)

Gino Cervi was a regular actor of PEPLUM films. This was one of his early ones. With a title like that, you know it's a comedy. Not to be confused with Gino's other Nero film, NERO AND THE BURNING OF ROME (1953).

Friday, January 25, 2019

By the Gods!

Livio Lorenzon, Mark Forest, Giuliano Gemma and Mimmo Palmara in GOLIATH AND THE SINS OF BABYLON (1963)

This week I profiled PEPLUM films set in Babylon. Most of them, like this film, have very little to do with actual Babylonian history and culture. People associate 'Babylon' with depravity and evil pagans. Aside from some costumes which look Babylonian, this action movie is pretty much Babylonian in title only. Fun film nonetheless.

PEPLUM Cliché : St-Andrew's Cross

It's pretty common to see people nailed or bound to a cross in PEPLUM films: most of them are directly inspired by Biblical stories which of course the crucifixion being the central symbolic imagery of Christianity. But the majority of films from the genre are not Biblical films and the use of the crucifixion goes beyond simple religious symbolism, as they're used to torture our heroes or heroines, to demonstrate heroism in the face of evil or sometimes even falling into the kinky S&M category. This is just a small sample.

Posted at the PEPLUM Cliché page.


Steve Reeves in DUEL OF THE TITANS (1961)



Gordon Scott in GLADIATOR OF ROME (1962)

Halina Zalewska in TRIUMPH OF THE TEN GLADIATORS (1964)


Pietro Torrisi in THE BARBARIAN MASTER (1982)

The Martyrdom of St. Andrew painted by Bartolome Esteban Murillo

Thursday, January 24, 2019

By the Gods!

Yvonne Furneaux, as Semiramis, in SLAVE QUEEN OF BABYLON (1963)

Another film based on the legend of Semiramis. Unlike the Rhonda Fleming version profiled yesterday, this one is more accurate...only slightly more accurate. I like this movie. It's a twin production with WAR GODS OF BABYLON (1962). Same sets, costumes, general production but different cast and director. Which one is the best? It's hard to say. They both have good aspects while also having weak aspects. They're basically the same with this movie slightly better thanks to Yvonne's performance and a better cast.


German lobby cards set for ALEXANDER THE GREAT (1956). Good set. If I'd seen this in a lobby of a movie theatre back in the day this set would entice me to see it. The only issue I have with this set are garish colours, which was typical of the printing process of the 1950s. Cards 4, 5 and 8 are the best cards.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

By the Gods!

Assur (Roldano Lupi) takes Semiramis (Rhonda Fleming) for his wife in QUEEN OF BABYLON (1954)

A pre-HERCULES PEPLUM from Italy, shot in color and standard aspect ratio. It's one of those films that's frustrating in that there are no correct copy of it anywhere. This screenshot was taken from a recent pseudo-HD broadcast. It's in Italian with French subs. I've been trying to do a Fan Dub of this title for years now and this copy was promising until I saw that it had French subs burnt in. Can't use this one. This film has two different version: European version and an American version. The English audio from the US version doesn't match the action and script of the Europe version. As for the film itself, it has very little to do with actual Babylonian history. Assur never had a wife named Semiramis. And the legend of Semiramis has nothing to do with Assur or existed during Assur's reign. Even with all of this, it's still fun kitschy entertainment.


Production photo of the Minotaur (George Eastman) from FELLINI'S SATYRICON (1969)

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

By the Gods!

Hercules (Peter Lupus) is challenged by the rulers of Babylon (Livio Lorenzon, Tullio Altamura and Helga Liné) in HERCULES AND THE TYRANTS OF BABYLON (1964)

A very entertaining PEPLUM that hits all the right notes. Directed by Domenico Paolella, who made some of my favourites genre movies. I had this one uploaded to PEPLUM TV and, of all things, a **Bollywood** company claimed copyright ownership for this old Italian production. Even though the claim is completely bogus, I removed it. They were about to make money off of my channel. No way. Yes, Youtube is insane these days.

Then & Now: Caroline Munro

Caroline in THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1973); a recent photo of the actress

Monday, January 21, 2019

By the Gods!

Zoroaster (Arnoldo Foà) warns Mirra (Jackie Lane) of impending doom in WAR GODS OF BABYLON (1962)

I believe that this is the only PEPLUM film to have the prophet Zoroaster in its story. Zoroaster was the one who founded Zoroastrianism centuries before Christianity. It's a unique religion in that one can only be born in it. Arnoldo, who died in 2014, lived to 97 and acted in over 100 productions, including other PEPLUM productions. He was a very good actor even though Zoroaster probably didn't look like that. I like this film, with all its faults.

Movie Poster Mondays

French poster of TWO GLADIATORS (1964)

A colourful poster which has little resemblance to what happens in the film. It could be artwork for any gladiator movie. The French title in English translates as THE FURY OF THE GLADIATORS.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

By the Gods!

Todd Armstrong, as Jason, is caught by the tail of the Hydra while trying to get the Golden Fleece in JASON & THE ARGONAUTS (1963)

Ray Harryhausen loved mixing up things when making his films. In CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981), he incorporated the Kraken with Greek mythology. The Kraken is Scandinavian mythology. In this film, the Hydra beast is actually associated with Hercules, not Jason. Hercules confronts the Hydra as part of his twelve labor. Even so, this scene is great, with the help of the powerful Bernard Hermann score. The scene after this, when the corpse of the hydra is pulverized, it's even better than this moment.

Lobby Cards set: SON OF SAMSON

US lobby cards for SON OF SAMSON (1960), Great set. Every card is good…well no 6 is a bit dull but that's okay because the rest is so good: great photos of Mark Forest and Chelo Alonso. This is the way to do a lobby card set. Well above average and one of the best of the bunch.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

By the Gods!

Paul Wynter, as Bangor, is about to be impaled in MACISTE - STRONGEST MAN IN THE WOLRD (1961; aka Maciste against the Mole Men)

This 'Feat of strength' scene is one of the best scenes in PEPLUM history. It's almost impossible to explain what's going on in a few words. Paul is immortalized forever with this scene. You can watch the entire film at my PEPLUM TV channel.

Paul Wynter, RIP

PEPLUM star Paul Winter died on January 14. He was 83. Even though Paul only made two PEPLUM films, his impact on the genre is undeniable. He won the Mr Universe contest in 1960 and in 1966. He made his two movies in between those wins. I like him a lot and wished he had made more genre movies, with a lead role, as Bangor! RIP!


Paul played Bangor, friend to Maciste (Mark Forest, below), who rescued him from certain death. This is a top notch PEPLUM.

Mark Forest and Paul Wynter as a team worked great in this over-the-top PEPLUM

Paul played the strongman for the Queen (Chelo Alonso). Dante DiPaolo also starred. Another classic PEPLUM film.

Gordon Mitchell with Paul

Powerful Paul carries big Gordon Mitchell on his shoulders!

Double Mr Universe winner Paul chats with Arnold Schwarzenegger, who would eventually star in his own PEPLUM flick,  CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982)

Paul and his wife, Mary. The most recent picture of the actor/bodybuilder

Paul Wynter, RIP

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

By the Gods!

The Three Stooges are galley slaves in THE THREE STOOGES MEET HERCULES (1962)

The slave driver displayed by John Cliff. And that's Quinn K. Redeker next to Larry. One of the better scenes in this PEPLUM comedy. Though film was shot in Black & White and regular aspect ratio, it didn't stop Columbia Pictures from using exterior boat scenes footage from THE WARRIOR EMPRESS (1960; aka Sappho - The Venus of Lesbos), which was shot in color and in widescreen.

New CLEOPATRA project goes viral (PC culture)

Yesterday, the name 'Cleopatra' was trending on Twitter. Why? Because the long delayed film project on the Egyptian ruler, first conceived with Angelina Jolie in mind, became yet another victim of the political correct nonsense going on in our culture these days. Many were upset that Cleopatra was being cast with white women in mind. They argued that Cleopatra was black, not white. This is an on-going argument which has lasted decades now. To make things more messed up, Lady Gaga is fighting to play the role. Of course, people weren't too keen on this since the pop star now actress is a believer of all things identity politics and think she shouldn't even think about it. For a long time, historians have been saying Cleopatra was of Macedonian/Greek descent. It was impossible for her to be black. But those who believe Cleopatra was black only think in the terms that she was a ruler of an African country, therefore she must be black.

Regardless of this nonsense, isn't Angelina is a little too old to play Cleopatra, who was reportedly in 18 years old when her rule began? As for Lady Gaga being cast in the role, that's totally ridiculous.

Good luck with the makers of this ill-fated project.

Monday, January 14, 2019

By the Gods!

Roger Browne and Pietro Torrisi in SEVEN REBEL GLADIATORS (1965)

Directed by Michele Lupo, who's movies are filled with over-the-top action and boisterous, brawny men. Both Roger and Pietro are still with us in the land of the living. Roger was interviewed recently over his film career and aside from Lupo's films, he admitted that he didn't care much for them. He thought they were too difficult to make (which I can image they were). His career continued with Eurospy films and exploitation films in the 1970s. It eventually died out during the 1980s. As for Torrisi, his career , he continued on appearing in plenty of movies, mainly in small supporting roles during the 1970s but experienced a big comeback during the 1980s, with a series of super low budget Italian movies inspired by the success of CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982). I recently watched a film called HERCULES AGAINST KARATE (1973), in which Torrisi has a small role (during a bar brawl).  If you blink, you'll miss him. It would great to have an extensive interview of him. I'm sure he had fun making these films. I'm sure he has tons of stories to tell.

Movie Poster Mondays

Spanish poster of REVOLT OF THE SLAVES (1960)

TCM will showing this film (in the wee hours of the morning). I already have a great copy of this so I really don't care which version they'll show. I just wonder if it will be complete or cut.

Friday, January 11, 2019

By the Gods!

Samson Burke (as Ursus) and Wandisa Guida rule over the kingdom in VENGEANCE OF URSUS (1961)

Typical happy ending seen in PEPLUM films. Samson looks bored but Wandisa radiates. I made the one and only Fan Dub of this and it's everywhere on Youtube. The main observation taken from viewers was "When I saw VENGEANCE OF URSUS for the first time it looked terrible and I thought this movie was awful but this brand new copy makes it look so much better. It's actually a good film". The difference a nice copy in English makes to a maligned movie. That's the PEPLUM genre in a nutshell.

My latest acquisitions

No DVDs to report even though I've acquired many new copies of titles from the internet (exchanges).

I've been a movie poster collector since I was 14 years old. I've stopped collecting full time and simply collect stuff that I like. So, for today, I'll mention two nice vintage movie collectibles I've acquired.

I purchased a beautiful poster of GOLIATH AGAINST THE GIANTS (1961). It's not a reprint.

I've also purchased a movie book from LUX films and when it's unfolded, there are four upcoming PEPLUM titles: MORGAN THE PIRATE (1960) with Steve Reeves, SURCOUF - PRINCE DES CORSAIRES (196?) with Jean Marais, THE WONDERS OF ALADDIN (1961) with Donald O'Connor and THIEF OF BAGHDAD (1961) with Steve Reeves. It's absolutely gorgeous and in excellent condition. Well worth the paltry $30 it cost.

Now, the second title, SURCOUF - PRINCE DES CORSAIRES apparently doesn't exist. It seems changes were made to the cast: Jean Marais was out and Gerard Barray starred. The crew also changed. This new re-arranged film was released in 1966 as SURCOUF - LE TIGRE DES SEPT MERS. In English, the title was THE SEA PIRATE. So, the poster art with Jean Marais is a rare thing!

And finally, I subscribed to ANCIENT HISTORY magazine and got the printed copy in the mail. I like it but I have to admit that the service from the company was chaotic. The topic: Apollo and Artemis. I haven't read it yet but it's a decent publication. It has a section devoted to how ancient history is portrayed in movies.

That's it for now.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

By the Gods!

A wasted Achilles (Gordon Mitchell) in FURY OF ACHILLES (1962)

This is one rare instance in which the main character is portrayed as unsympathetic and yet it doesn't diminish the empathy one feels towards his pre-destined plight. It's Mitchell's best role.


For a change, I used the Italian "fotobustas" of HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959) instead of the US lobby card set. They are bigger than standard lobby cards and are more detailed but they're basically the same thing. This is a great set if a bit repetitive, with 4 cards with Steve in almost  the same pose. I have no complaints with it except that it does miss out on many classic scenes including the one with Steve and a lounging Sylvia watching the dancers. A fotobusta of the other members of the cast (Castor & Pollux, the Argo, etc) would have been cool but this is a very colorful set.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

By the Gods!

The bodies of Polinices (Mimmo Palmara) and Eteocles (Sergio Fantoni) on a funeral pyre in HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959)

This scene irks me to no end. Dramatically speaking, it's an important moment and yet the framing and the duration of this shot is terrible and destroys any chance of an adequate closure to the main story which propelled the film. It's super brief, often truncated even more from the already short duration in the original version. And we barely see the faces of the men. It's feels rushed. One bad moment of an otherwise excellent production from Pietro Francisci. I wonder what happened during the filming of this scene. A last minute decision?


Producer Charles H.Schneer and Ray Harryhausen on the set of THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD(1973)