Sunday, June 30, 2019

By the Gods!

Virna Lisi, Gordon Scott and Steve Reeves in DUEL OF THE TITANS (1961)

I'm currently reading plenty of books on Greek mythology (including the Iliad) and it's interesting that Aeneas was the remote descendant of Romulus (of Romulus and Remus; see chart below), both portrayed by Steve Reeves, as Aeneas in THE TROJAN HORSE (1961) and THE AVENGER (1962; aka Last Glory of Troy) and as Romulus in DUEL OF THE TITANS. Now how to connect Hercules, Steve's most famous role, with Aeneas and Troy. I've discovered many things these past few weeks, including the time Hercules attacked Troy. Now that's a movie that should have been made: HERCULES AGAINST TROY. From Wikipedia (I know):

"Laomedon, King of Troy, planned on sacrificing his daughter Hesione to Poseidon in the hope of appeasing him. Heracles happened to arrive (along with Telamon and Oicles) and agreed to kill the monster if Laomedon would give him the horses received from Zeus as compensation for Zeus' kidnapping Ganymede. Laomedon agreed. Heracles killed the monster, but Laomedon went back on his word. Accordingly, in a later expedition, Heracles and his followers attacked Troy and sacked it. Then they slew all Laomedon's sons present there save Podarces, who was renamed Priam, who saved his own life by giving Heracles a golden veil Hesione had made."

Priam is the first cousin to Aeneas' father, Anchises! BTW, those horses were immortal and could run on water.

Someone should make the ultimate lineage chart of Greek mythological characters. Something like this one about the House of Troy and Dardaniaand.

Vintage article: The Money in Muscles

Click on the article to read them. Good stuff. It's basically what I've been saying since day 1.

Joan Collins as CLEOPATRA (1963)

Screentest of Joan Collins for the role of Cleopatra for the 963 mega-production. What do you think? She didn't get the role but she did play the legendary Egyptian ruler in a guest spot on FANTASY ISLAND (below)

Friday, June 28, 2019

By the Gods!

Queen Halis Mojab (Moira Orfei) falls for Maciste (Mark Forest) in MACISTE - STRONGEST MAN IN THE WORLD (1961; Maciste, l'uomo più forte del mondo; aka Mole Men against the Son of Hercules).

There's no question that the queen is evil and has caused terrible things to others but her fate is also sorta tragic: she was brought up by the mole men to live her life in darkness even though she's actually not a mole person. She only learns about this secret at the very end which makes for a great and touching ending. Do you think she deserved a chance to live in the sun with Maciste? One of my favourite PEPs of all time!

Lobby cards set: HELEN OF TROY (1956)

US lobby cards set for HELEN OF TROY (1956) directed by Robert Wise. Very good set. The top two cards showcase the cast which is important Close-ups of the two main stars and a card with the wooden horse. No card with Brigitte Bardot, which would have fetched a lot of money. An above average set.

Steve Hawkes, R.I.P. - (Non-Peplum Peplum)

Steve Hawkes (born Steve Sipek) died on June 23 at the age of 77. He made two Tarzan knock-offs, in which he was called Zan. The screengrabs are from ZAN - KING OF THE JUNGLE (1969; Tarzán en la gruta del oro). He lived in the US and ran an animal sanctuary.

Now, you might ask "Why post about a Tarzan movie here?". Well, this is one of those 'Non-Peplum Peplum' movies. Everything about ZAN - KING OF THE JUNGLE follows the PEPLUM formula but set in contemporary times. There are 'feats of strength,' as seen above and the last image, both which looks straight out of Maciste movie. And then there's the Amazon-like group of women. Pretty much a Maciste movie but with our Hero wearing a loincloth instead of a tiny tunic. A lot of stars of the PEPLUM genre began with Tarzan or Tarzan-like productions, including Gordon Scott, Lex Barker, and even Steve Reeves with KIMBAR OF THE JUNGLE (1949) short film. The TAUR/THOR movies starring Joe Robinson were supposed to be Tarzan stories but changes were made to avoid lawsuits from the E. R. Burroughs estate and the Hero became Thor or Taur.

Posted at the permanent page: NON-PEPLUM PEPLUM films!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

By the Gods!

Sabrina Siani, lying on top of Pietro Torrisi, is about to get the point in GUNAN - KING OF THE BARBARIANS (or Invincible Barbarian; 1982)

I finally got a hold of an English copy of this entertainingly trashy 1980s 'Sword & Sorcery' flick starring Pietro Torrisi (as Peter McCoy!). This scene, which is probably the highlight of the entire 90 minutes opus, is anti-climatic. As the device tortures her, the villains leave which prompts our hero to take action and stop it. They didn't go anywhere with it. Just some scene with nudity and blood. Of all the 1980s PEPLUM movies from Italy this is probably my least favourite. I like both Pietro and Sabrina but many scenes are shot in slow motion and it sorta becomes a chore to sit through. Outer space sequences from British science-fi series SPACE: 1999 were used during the opening 'creation' scenes, and dinosaur scenes from ONE MILLION YEARS B.C.. THRONE OF FIRE (1983), with Torrisi and Siani, is much more fun than this. 

Behind-the Scenes

Robert Taylor reading a tabloid with Tyrone Power (and Linda Christian?) on the cover during the time he filmed QUO VADIS (1951) in Italy.

Anachronism : Hair gel for men

The PEPLUM genre exploded during the 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 out of character for stories set in Antiquity. There might have been some product in those days which men used to sculpt their hair but it certainly didn't look like the greased-up Elvis Presley pompadour style.

Richard Egan in ESTHER AND THE KING (1960)

Rory Calhoun in COLOSSUS OF RHODES (1960)...oy!

Victor Mature in THE TARTARS (1961)

Roger Browne in VULCAN - SON OF JUPITER (1963)

Lex Johnson in THE RAPE OF THE SABINES (1962)

Kirk Morris is Brylcreem perfection in MACISTE - AVENGER OF MAYANS (1965). As a bonus, Luciano Marin, on the left, also has an anachronistic hairstyle.

Monday, June 24, 2019

By the Gods!

The climax to THE SACARENS (1963; Il Pirata del Diavolo) starring Richard Harrison, Annamaria Ubaldi and Demeter Bitenc as Rabaneck, the villain.

I have a version no one else had. It's in English with English credits and narration (text). I wonder where it came from or where I got it (from the now defunct ATLAS VISUALS?). At one point I uploaded it to Youtube and now everyone has it. It was very popular (over 700,000 views). This copy is seen below and the last screengrab, while the screengrabs at the top and the third one are taken from a Fan Dub someone made with the audio from this original version. I know this because the distortions in my original English copy, which are quite particular, are heard in the Fan Dub. Oddly enough, even though the image from my copy is very cropped the image from the Fan Dub is also cropped. So, a true widescreen copy of this film is still missing, in English or any other language. I like this movie. Richard is good as usual. A couple of big problems with this movie happen at the end: during the climactic sword fight you clearly see the stuntman doing all the sword action. You can also see the shadows of the columns of the window on the sky/sea background scenery. Oops. The music by Aldo Piga is excellent.

PEPLUM Movie Poster

Original Italian poster of PIA OF PTOLEMY (1959)

I've recently watched this and I have to say it's pretty tame for a Sergio Grieco film. The image was too dark to fully enjoy though.

Identify the movie!

Can you identify the movie from this screengrab?

Graham Sumner got it right: it's from KING OF KINGS (1961)

Saturday, June 22, 2019

By the Gods!

Paul Hay in SAMSON AND DELILAH (1987)

Looks familiar? The beginning of this Filipino movie is identical to HERCULES (1958). Suzzanna plays Delilah (below). It has to be seen to be believed! There's a 'love scene' that's gross! Hay was an Australian bodybuilder. During the opening credits, they actually list many bodybuilding contests he won. This was his only film. So weird!

Lucille Ball as...Cleopatra!

Lucille Ball camped it up as Cleopatra on her TV show, The Lucy Show.

Same body, different actors!

I've done 'Same set, different films' or 'Same prop, different films' or 'Same costume, different films' but I've never done 'Same body, different actors!' Haha!

The poster for MACISTE - AVENGER OF THE MAYANS (1965) uses Mark Forest's body, from HERCULES AGAINST THE SONS OF THE SUN (1964), and replaced Mark's head with Kirk Morris'.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

By the Gods!

Koloss (named Goliath in the movie) and Kirk Morris (as either Maciste or Hercules) in MACISTE - AVENGER OF THE MAYANS (1965)

Getting a clear copy of this film is hard. I have multiple different versions and they range from poor to acceptable. This movie is a hodge podge of different productions cobbled together: scenes from some from earlier Kirk Morris movie (COLOSSUS & THE HEADHUNTERS 1963) and some from COLOSSUS OF THE STONE AGE (1962; not with Kirk) edited with new scenes like this climax between 'Hercules' and Goliath. I recently got a French copy titled HERCULE CONTRE GOLIATH. A very strange concoction but still watchable for ultra fans of PEPLUM movies like me. Average viewers might be appalled by it. Kirk was still in form when he did this but he sorta was loosing his 'cut' look from his earlier movies. His hair in the new scenes doesn't match the scenes from his earlier production. The title has Maciste in it but he's called Hercules in the movie itself. A very goofy movie.

Lobby Cards Set: GOLIATH AND THE DRAGON (1961)

US lobby cards set of GOLIATH & THE DRAGON starring Mark Forest, Leonora Ruffo, Wandisa Guida and Broderick Crawford. Fantastic set. It nearly has all the best scenes in the movie. The only thing missing is a photo of the statue. One of the best sets. 

Through the years: Saint Sebastian

Saint Sebastian is a famous Christian saint and martyr that inspired countless of artists to paint a portrait of this doomed man. In movies, Sebastian was portrayed a few times in PEPLUM flicks. Here's a quick overview.

Massimo Girotti in FABIOLA (1949) with Henri Vidal

Ettore Manni, as San Sabastino, in REVOLT OF THE SLAVES (1960) with Van Aikens (above, far left)

Leonardo Treviglio in SEBASTIANE (1976), an erotic exploration of the story. An 'art film' more than a straight forward story on the saint.

Michael Biehn in THE MARTYRDOM OF SAINT SEBASTIAN (1984), a French TV movie

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

By the Gods!

Nicholas Clay and Michael Biehn in THE MARTYRDOM OF ST. SEBASTIAN (1984)

This is an odd film in that it's a German production shot in French with English-speaking actors. It was a TV production. It was quite a daring endeavour back even in the early 1980s. It's one of those stories which starts in contemporary times but ends up in Antiquity. Why is this story-telling plot device so popular with PEPLUM productions? Biehn's other film in 1984: THE TERMINATOR. It was shot in Turkey. The movie is available on Youtube.

Franco Zeffirelli, R.I.P.

Italian director Franco Zeffirelli died at the age of 96. Though he only made 14 movies, his name was well recognized throughout the world. One only needed to say his last name. THE TAMING OF THE SHREW and ROMEO & JULIET defined the late 1960s opulent productions. In a recent interview, Anjelica Huston said she dreamed of going to "... Italy having a romance on set with Franco Zeffirelli." It would have been a bit difficult for her since Zeffirelli came out as gay. His other credits include OTHELO (1986), HAMLET (1990) and JANE EYRE (1996). His career took a hit after directing the contemporary teen romance ENDLESS LOVE (1981), which critics eviscerated. But he'll be forever remembered for those lush epics, a style of filmmaking that's all but gone today.

Zeffirelli and Richard Burton during the filming of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW(1967)

Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting in ROMEO & JULIET (1968). The film was a massive hit!

Judi Bowker and Graham Faulkner in BROTHER SUN, SISTER MOON (1972). Another lush production by Zeffirelli.

Above and below: Zeffirelli's JESUS OF NAZARETH (1977) was one of the best mini-series of the decade. It had an all-star cast. Robert Powell played Jesus.