Monday, April 29, 2019

Article of the week: Henchmen in PEPLUM movies

Henchmen in PEPLUM movies is the topic of this 'Article of the week.' Covering all of them would be a Herculean task. There are almost as many henchman as there are PEPLUM movies. In this article, I'll cover those who were the best (or baddest!). A lot of these actors played henchmen but it's not to say that these actors weren't cast in roles as main villain or even good guys.

The henchman is the foot soldier, the mercenary or the lower class ruler who does the dirty work for the main villain or villainess. Since these stories often involved muscular heroes, the henchman also had to look physically capable of dealing with the hero.

Some roles sorta skirt the category, including the one played by Luis Prendes, as Setas, in THE MIGHTY URSUS (1960). Is he a henchman? Not really but he's not the main villain in the villain-filled movie. I could have included him but I didn't. Another role would be Stanley Baker in SODOM & GOMORRAH (1962). I didn't include him but even if he's the brother of the ruling Queen, he totally acts like her henchman. Since the role is murky at best, I left him out of the list.

Remember, this is only a partial list. There are so many henchmen in PEPLUM movies that covering all of them would take forever.

Posted at the permanent page: Articles of the week (2019)

Mimmo Palmara

Probably the most recognizable bad guy in the genre, Mimmo often played villains, even lead villains but he was almost always a bad guy in a supporting role of another main villain. The henchman role sorta defined him.

Steve Reeves and Mimmo Palamara in THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII (1959). One of many henchmen roles Mimmo would play in his career in the PEPLUM genre.

Since Mimmo was good looking and in shape his henchman roles tended to be categorized in the arrogant, braggadocios, 'douchebag' kind of bad guy.

Mimmo Palmara and Gianfranco Parolini in THE TEN GLADIATORS (1963). The henchman in this movie had to be buff and capable of going against the Ten gladiators.

Livio Lorenzo

Livio was the henchman to the villain ruler, played by Bruce Cabot, in GOLIATH AND THE BARBARIANS (1959)

Livio would basically play this type of role in dozens of films. He was perfect as these henchmen types so why change?

Livio with Lisa Gastoni and Mimmo Palmara in THARUS - SON OF ATTILA (1962). In a change of pace, Palmara was the main villain while Livio was his henchman.

Daniele Vargas

Daniele was often cast as lead villain but he also played many henchman/supporting bad guy roles, as the one in SODOM & GOMORRAH (1962).

Vargas played a similar role in HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959). He's threatening Iole, played by Sylva Koscina. He was typecast in such roles.

Giulio Donnini

Giulio Donnini in APHRODITE - GODDESS OF LOVE (1958)

Donnini was a great henchman. Always slimy and always scheming. One first look of him and you know he's bad. Other notable roles: TRIUMPH OF MACISTE (1961) and MESSALINA (1960).

Donnini is the main henchman in ATLAS AGAINST THE CZAR (1964) starring Kirk Morris. In this scene, Donnini's character is drugging Atlas (Maciste in the original Italian version).

Howard Ross (aka Renato Rossini)

Pierre Cressoy was the evil ruler in TRIUMPH OF HERCULES (1962), with Howard Ross as his henchman. Howard, or Renato Rossini, was great as a henchman since, physically speaking, he was as muscular as the heroes.

Howard was a cunning henchman in HERCULES AGAINST THE BARBARIANS (1964). He excelled in those roles. He was also villain in HERCULES AGAINST THE MONGOLS (1963), which was packed with villains. The villains in that movie are difficult to categorize in that the Mongol leader is killed by Howard's character and his cohorts, who could all be henchmen but since the leader was killed they became leaderless henchmen, or something.

Franco Silva

Franco Silva has the ever scheming henchman in QUEEN OF SHEBA (1953). Here he is with future henchman, Mimmo Palmara. Franco is really great in this fun film. Silva didn't appear in a lot of PEPLUM movies but he was most often cast in bad roles than good. His big lead role not playing a villain was in THE MONGOLS (1960).

Pino Mattei

In 79 AD: THE DESTRUCTION OF HERCULANEUM (1962), Jacques Berthier was the main villain and his henchman, or his 'partner in crime,' was played by Pino Mattei (aka Giuseppe Mattei).

Alan Steel

Alan Steel as the mute henchman to Serge Gainsbourg, lead villain in FURY OF HERCULES (1962) 

Yes, Alan sometimes played bad guys, which was cool. He's also a henchman in HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959).

Serge Gainsbourg

Before becoming a crooner, Serge appeared in a handful of movies, including a couple of PEPLUM ones. In REVOLT OF THE SLAVES (1960), he's the conniving, slimy henchman to the evil Emperor.    Below, he wants to inspect rooms in Rhonda Fleming' house, along with his own henchman, played by Van Aikens.

Van Aikens

Van Aikens was the henchman to main villainess, Astra, played by Gianna Maria Canale (not shown) in GOLIATH & THE VAMPIRES (1961).  He was very effective in this thankless role.

Antonio Molino Rojo

In GLADIATORS 7 (1962), Rojo was the evil henchman to the ruler. He was memorable in this role. This wasn't his only henchman role.

Alberto Lupo

Alberto played Chirone, henchman to Princess Freda (Rosanna Schiaffino) in THE MINOTAUR (1960). Alberto could play good guys and bad guys with ease.

Aldo Bufi Landi

In TRIUMPH OF MACISTE (1961), Aldo was evil Queen Tenefi's henchman who did all her duties even if he was against them. A good actor who lend excellent support, along with the High Priest (Cesare Fantoni), who wasn't a henchman but both men schemed things together.

Harold Bradley

Harold Bradley acted in a bunch of PEPLUM titles, including HERO OF BABYLON (1963) with Piero Lulli. He was Lulli's evil henchman.

Alfio Caltabiano

Alfio, stuntman and sword expert for PEPLUM productions, sometimes acted. In SEVEN FROM THEBES (1964), he was the ultra badass henchman. He was bad. Very bad.

Arturo Dominici

Probably the grandaddy of henchman in PEPLUM movies, Arturo played the ultra slimy henchman hired by the king to kill his rival to the throne in HERCULES (1958). He sneaks in with the crew of the Argo to create mischief. Arturo is memorable in this movie.

Hercules (Steve Reeves) knows Eurysteus (Dominici) is up to no good.

Arturo played many henchman types, including in HERCULES AGAINST MOLOCH (1963)

Claudio Scarchilli

Claudio was up to no good in URSUS & THE TERROR OF THE KIRGHIZ (1964; aka Hercules - Prisoner of Evil). A character actor who was also seen in THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (1966)

Milton Reid

Milton Reid basically made a career playing heavies. He was the henchman to Gianni Rizzo (below) in SPARTACUS & THE TEN GLADIATORS (1964). He also played in DR NO (1962).

Raf Baldassarre

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

Even with this crowded category, the ultimate henchman is, imo, Raf Baldassarre. Aside from GLADIATORS OF ROME (1962), in which Raf played a good guy, nearly all of his roles were playing baddies. This lasted all the way to the 1980s, with his role in ADVENTURES OF HERCULES (1985) with Lou Ferrigno. Lean and fit, Raf was totally believable as the nemesis to our heroes.

Raf was effective in ULYSSES AGAINST HERCULES (1962). He played the ruler's henchman who turns very bad.

Raf was the captain of the guards/henchman to Queen Antinea (Fay Spain) in HERCULES & THE CAPTIVE WOMEN (1961). Mimmo Palmara, in blond hair and beard, was her other henchman/clones. Raf did the Queen's bidding, including sacrificing her daughter (Laura Efrikian).

Raf was a henchman hired by lead villain, (Christopher Lee) in HERCULES IN HAUNTED WORLD (1961). Guess what will happen to him in this scene? Henchmen always die one way or the other.


This is just a sample of the henchmen in PEPLUM movies. I didn't include all of them or else this article would be twice as long.

Hope you enjoyed this overview!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Cinematic Confusion

The French poster for CONQUEROR OF CORINTH (1961) used the likeness of Edy Vessel (right, from THE TROJAN HORSE (1961)) for the artwork of one of the film's posters even though she's not in the movie; Genevieve Grad is the blonde star of CONQUEROR OF CORINTH and she doesn't look like Edy, in real life or on this poster. Confusing.

Vintage article: Ed Fury & Stuntman

Here's a vintage Italian article about Ed Fury filming URSUS IN THE LAND OF FIRE (1963). There's also a photo of Ed with his stuntman/body double Franco Moruzzi (below), who worked on many PEPLUM films.

Friday, April 26, 2019

By the Gods!

Steve Reeves, as Aeneas, in WAR OF THE TROJANS (aka The Avenger ; 1962)

This sequel to THE TROJAN HORSE (1961) might not be as good as the first movie but it's still good enough and you can never go wrong with Steve. Finding a complete, uncut copy of this is pretty hard. I accidentally came upon the French version which had some of the cut scenes. In the English version, the first 10 minutes or so are cut. In the Italian version, it starts as it should but a scene of Aeneas confronting people of the land (below) is cut. Only the French version has that scene. With PEPLUM movies, there seems to be as many different versions as there are different countries. As a fan of the genre, one has to be aware of this and watching different versions from other countries might reveal new things. A database of PEPLUM movies would be great (I'm sorta working on one...I'm still at the planning stage).

Through the years: The Trojan Horse

One of the most famous myths or stories of Ancient Greece is the fall of the legendary city of Troy with the Trojan horse. Remarkably enough, the story hasn't been told that many times at the movies (like most of Greek mythology). Here's a quick rundown of those few movies and TV series.

The Trojan horse in ADAMO ED EVA (1949), a rare Italian comedy. 

The head of the Trojan horse appeared briefly in ULYSSES (1954). The head is mostly obscured by soldiers standing in front of it. 

Above and below: From LOVES OF THREE QUEENS (1954), the Hedy Lamar project. The Trojan horse makes an appearance in the last story.

The Trojan horse in HELEN OF TROY (1956). Film directed by Robert Wise.

Above and below: The Steve Reeves movie from 1961 is called THE TROJAN HORSE.

The Italian mini-series THE ODYSSEY (1968), in eight one-hour episodes, briefly touched upon the Trojan horse in episode 3. 

The Trojan horse from the TV spectacle HELEN OF TROY (2003)

The elaborate horse design from TROY (2004)

Lobby Cards Set: THE TROJAN HORSE (1961)

US lobby cards set of THE TROJAN HORSE (1961) starring Steve Reeves. Great set. Covers pretty much every important scene. I like the fact that the images compliment each other. It's a set I'd like to have in my collection.