Thursday, October 31, 2019

Happy Halloween from PEPLUM TV

This ends Halloween week. Hope you enjoyed it. I couldn't cover all the movies, like MACISTE IN HELL (above with Kirk Morris; 1962) or PERSEUS THE INVINCIBLE (1963). It's amazing how the horror genre fits so well with the PEPLUM genre.

Have a spooky Halloween!

By the Gods!

Halloween week continues here at PEPLUM TV

Today in Halloween week: GOLIATH & THE VAMPIRES (1961) starring Gordon Scott, Leonara Ruffo, Jacques Sernas and Gianna Maria Canale. Directed by Giacomo Gentilomo, and Sergio Corbucci.

Goliath (Gordon Scott) is about to crush Kobrak's deadly army

This action packed movie starts with a village pillaged by evil soldiers who kidnap all the young women. The leader of these masked soldiers in Amahil (Van Aikens) brings the women to Ciro, who is controlled by Kobrak, the evil supernatural monster in need of blood. The main villain is Kobrak but helping him with his evil plans is Astra (Gianna Maria Canale), Kobrak's foot soldier.

After many tasks, Goliath escapes the clutches of King Ciro with his wife Guja by horse only to end up in the kingdom of the mysterious men in blue, with Kurtik (Jacques Sernas) as their leader. Because of meddling by Astra, Guja ends up in the hands of Kobrak. It's up to Goliath to defeat the monster, who takes the form of Goliath, culminating in a fight between Goliath vs Goliath.

The first 45 minutes moves at an amazing speed. It's almost nonstop action. It slows down a bit in the second half but the pitfalls Goliath has to overcome do not diminish. There are some really violence scenes in this movie directed by Giacomo Gentilomo and Sergio Corbucci. There was some sort of problem between Gentilomo and the producers and Sergio had to step in. The sudden shift in tone seen in the movie shows when things changed. Which one was responsible for the action packed first half and the more atmospheric second half? Since Gentilomo directed the action-packed HERCULES AGAINST THE MOON MEN (profiled yesterday), I suspect the first half was directed by Gentilomo. This doesn't diminish the fun to be had when watching this PEPLUM / Horror. The fight between Goliath at the end is a classic.

Astra (Gianna Maria Canale) summons Kobrak.

Astra (Canale) tries to seduce Goliath (Scott)

Amahil (Van Aikens) hands a goblet filled with blood to Kobrak

Guja (Leonora Ruffo) is subject to the cruel control of Astra (Canale)

Goliath (Gordon Scott) brings down the surroundings to destroy and defeat the 'vampires'

The mask comes off: Kobrak impersonating Goliath (an uncredited Giovanni Cianfriglia)

Lobby Cards Set: MACISTE IN HELL (The Witch's Curse)

US lobby cards set of MACISTE IN HELL, retitled for the US market as THE WITCH'S CURSE (1962) starring Kirk Morris and Helene Chanel. This set is actually pretty good. The problems: 3 cards for the burning at the stake scenes. One or two would have sufficed. Also no cards with Helene Chanel which would have been a definite plus. But overall, it features many important scenes. I'd like to have it. Side note, I uploaded the movie on my main PEPLUM TV channel. Check it out.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

By the Gods!

Halloween week continues here at PEPLUM TV

Today, it's HERCULES AGAINST THE MOON MEN (1964), starring Alan Steel, Jany Clair, Anna Maria Polani, and Delia D'Alberti.

Hercules (Maciste in original; Alan Steel) is surrounded by the rock Moon men

A colourful Action/Horror PEPLUM directed by Giacomo Gentilomo. Original title: MACISTE E LA REGINA DI SAMAR, which translates as MACISTE AND THE QUEEN OF SAMAR. A meteor crashes on Earth and the evil being from it makes a pack with Queen Samara (Clair) to enact  some nefarious evil plot: to revive their Queen Selene via human sacrifices.

Part typical PEPLUM, part horror movie, this is a stand-out of the genre simply because it's so colourful and it delves headlong into the supernatural. Jany Clair makes a great villainess and the movie is packed with 'Feats of strength' in which the director wasn't shy showing massive close-ups of Steel's muscles in action. Steel is in top form and clearly had fun making the movie. It's everything a PEPLUM should be with elements of horror and sci-fi. Great fun!

Hercules showing his mettle!

Queen Samara (Jany Clair) talks to her outer space master

Above & below: Billis (Delia D'Alberti) is to be sacrificed by the Moon Men in order to revive Queen Selene

Anna Maria Polani, as Agar, is captured by a Moon Man in HERCULES AGAINST THE MOON MEN


Great behind the scenes photo of the cast of HERCULES IN HAUNTED WORLD (1961): Leonora Ruffo pushes a cart with Reg Park and Christopher Lee on it. The Queen of Sheba, Hercules and Dracula in one photo. Below, the two men have fun applying makeup on Leonora.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

By the Gods!

Halloween week continues here at PEPLUM TV.

Today, it's WAR OF THE ZOMBIES (1964), also known as ROME AGAINST ROME, starring John Drew Barrymore, Susy Andersen, Ettore Manni, and Ida Galli.

This PEP is 100% horror. The cool story is about Aberdab (Barrymore) raising an army of dead Roman soldiers to attack, well, Rome. Thanks to his abilities in harnessing the powers from the goddess Electra, Aberdab is able to achieve this gruesome Apocalyptic plot (see GIF animation below). During the bloody climax, Roman soldiers fight against dead Roman soldiers and spirits of the dead. This is one of the darkest PEPLUM movies, not just in terms of story but also in the movie's looks and design. Finding a beautiful print of this original movie is impossible so one has to enjoy watching murky prints. As a fan of horror movies and PEPLUM cinema, this one is highly enjoyable even if the film's ambitions surpass its limited budget.

Rhama (Ida Galli), Aberdad (John Drew Barrymore) and Tullia (Susy Andersen) practice the black arts

Aberdad (Barrymore) raises the dead

Ettore Manni stars in this horror PEPLUM

Ettore and Ida Galli.

Different Titles: WAR OF THE ZOMBIES

Different titles: today, it's ROMA CONTRO ROMA (1964) starring John Drew Barrymore. The original Italian title was pretty simple and sorta odd, ROME AGAINST ROME, and for the most part, this title was translated in other countries. But not in the US. AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL PICTURES acquired the movie and re-titled it WAR OF THE ZOMBIES. This title still hasn't surfaced anywhere, on TV or any home video format. The US TV title was different as well, NIGHT STAR, GODDESS OF ELECTRA.

Original Italian title. It's original but sorta hides the fact that this is a horror story.

The International English title.

The French title, same as the Italian title.

The US TV title. Pretty far out.

Since the AIP title is still missing in action, here's a screenshot of the title from the trailer.

Monday, October 28, 2019

By the Gods!

Halloween week continues here at PEPLUM TV.

Today, it's HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD (1961; Ercole al centro della Terra) starring Reg Park, as Hercules, Christopher Lee, George Ardisson and Leonora Ruffo.

Atmospheric and moody, this PEPLUM was directed by Mario Bava, who excelled in the horror genre. Colourful and yet dark, the story is Hercules has to rescues his wife, Deianira (Ruffo), from the evil clutches of Zico (Christopher Lee). Deianira is in Hades and Hercules and his companion Theseus travel to the underworld to rescue her but they first have to defeat Lico.

The film is filled with elaborate sets and a colourful tapestry of worlds with an atmosphere of horror throughout. This was Reg's second movie, right after HERCULES & THE CAPTIVE WOMEN (1961). Both films would use some of the same sets. Scenes from this movie were reused effectively in HERCULES THE AVENGER (1965) also with Reg. A Spook & Sandal!

Hercules (Reg Park) and Lico (Christopher Lee) are Good and Evil!

Princess Deianira (Leonora Ruffo) is seemingly brought back to life at the start of the film.

A 'rock man' tortures Theseus (George Ardisson)

A view of the underworld

Hercules tries to save Deianira in Hades!

PEPLUM Movie Posters


One of the many posters for this movie. Perfectly captures the mood of the film.

Friday, October 25, 2019

By the Gods!

Karim (Steve Reeves) tries to save a suitor (Eduardo Burgamo) from deadly killer trees in THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD (1961)

This post starts HALLOWEEN week here at PEPLUM TV and though this movie is not a Horror PEPLUM this scene certainly features a monster which belongs in a horror story. This screengrab was taken for a soon to be available Blu-ray edition of the movie. Yes, a proper HD copy of this movie is something to celebrate. You check out more screengrabs at BY THE GODS!

Differences in GOLIATH & THE DRAGON

As I already posted here and at BY THE GODS!, GOLIATH & THE DRAGON (1960) was the US version of THE VENGEANCE OF HERCULES (1960). Additional scenes, including those with the dragon (claymation and huge practical effects head) were shot to make the film more appealing to kids. So, here's a quick overview on how to spot the differences between the original film and the added scenes.

Above: Mark in VENGEANCE OF HERCULES, with a dark brown peplum/tunic and dark beard. Below: in the new scenes for GOLIATH & THE DRAGON, shot after the movie was completed, the costume is clearly different as the beard as well. The costume doesn't fit him the same way and it's of a different shade of brown. The studs at the shoulder strap are also different, and the belt and sword hang differently. And the beard looks more fake and grey in the new scenes. Mark's body also seems more cut in the new scenes.

Above: From VENGEANCE OF HERCULES, the beard looks real. Below: in the new scenes for GOLIATH & THE DRAGON, the beard clearly looks fake and a different color.

In the original VENGEANCE OF HERCULES, Mark's peplum/tunic is a pewter grey color and hugs his body but in GOLIATH & THE DRAGON (below), only the bottom part survives and it clearly doesn't look like the original. It's more skirt-like. the top part came off during the statue tossing scene and it should have been hanging loose around the waist/belt but they forgot about it in the new scenes.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

By the Gods!

Bernadette Lafont and Enrico Montesano in THE GOOD THIEF (1980)

Another raunchy 'Sex & Sandal' movie? Yes and no. The quality of the production is much better than the sleazy CALIGULA knock-offs of the period  There's no use of stock footage. The actors, crew are legit. This is an actual movie set in Biblical times with a good looking cast, surprisingly realistic looking locations and sets, and beautiful cinematography that captures the sunny Mediterranean (Tunisia) setting. It's basically a humorous take on BARABBAS(1961) in that Enrico plays this unscrupulous thief and scammer who, through circumstances, ends up crucified next to Jesus. He's impressed by Jesus' miracles and wants to use the same 'tricks' for his shady ways. The women are mostly busty and show lots of cleavage. Bernadette Lafont would later appear in GWENDOLINE (1984). Edwige Fenech made just a handful of PEPLUM type of productions. Raunchy? Yes but not sleazy like your typical Sex & Sandal movie from Italy. It can be seen as part of Biblical comedies of the time, such as MONTY PYTHON'S LIFE OF BRIAN (1979) or WHOLLY MOSES! (1980). Entertaining if a bit overlong.

Edwige Fenech as Deborah. The two just meet and proceed to make love. Yes, it's a comedy. 


Original US lobby cards set of SWORD OF THE CONQUEROR (1961) starring Jack Palance, Guy Madison, Hedy Vessel and all. A somewhat bland set for a somewhat bland movie. I like the movie but it's pretty average PEPLUM suff. Card number 7 is funny. No close-ups of Guy or Hedy which would have been great.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

By the Gods!

Mercury and Jupiter stand at the feet of a statue of Jupiter in AMPHITRYON (1935)

I finally got a hold of this German movie. It's a musical. The movie plays like a comedy of the battle of the sexes. The story is Jupiter pretending to be Theban general Amphitryon in order to woe the latter's wife, Alkmene (or Alcmene, played by Käthe Gold. Alcmene is the mother of Hercules). The story is completely at odds with the actual myth. The film is very kitschy. The actor who plays Jupiter, Willy Fritsch, reminds me of the Cowardly Lion in THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939). Oh, and Jupiter wears a cowboy hat while on Earth. Mercury (or Hermes) moves about Mount Olympus on roller-skates. When Jupiter and Mercury fly down from Mount Olympus, they use a huge umbrella. The expensive looking sets and costumes all have an art deco style to them even though it's set in Ancient Greece. This includes the many statues and Mount Olympus itself (below). The dialogue is often sung (a la UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG). Since this is a German movie, I had to read the never ending subtitles. With the addition of a musical score from the 1930s, the entire production comes across as very ornate and sorta Baroque.

The production itself is lush and eye-filling but all of it is done in by choppy editing. A French version was apparently filmed at the same time. This might explain the editing.

Then & Now: Maurice Poli

Maurice in THE AVENGER (aka War of the Trojans; 1962); a recent photo of the actor

Monday, October 21, 2019

By the Gods!

Lucretia Love and Danilo Mattei in DIARY OF A ROMAN VIRGIN (1973)

This softcore movie, also known as LIVIA - UNA VERGINE PER L'IMPERO, must have been a big hit in seedy theatres across Europe since every other identical movies made in 1970s and 1980s copied the template: film some sex scenes and edit them in between a plethora of scenes taken from PEPLUM movies of the Golden Era. This one uses scenes from THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII (1959), HANNIBAL (1959), COLOSSUS OF RHODES (1961), THE TEN GLADIATORS (1963),  SAMSON (1961), etc. Many of the disaster scenes from POMPEII and RHODES are used in this production as flashbacks to the main character, Livia. This was the first movie credited by the infamous and legendary Joe D'Amato, who's real name, Aristide Massaccesi, was used for his prior movies. It came out during a mini PEPLUM explosion of 1973, along with other movies like THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD. For PEPLUM fans like me, the brief sight of Pietro Torrisi (below) in the gladiator fight scenes is an added bonus. Torrisi can also seen in the sock footage taken from THE TEN GLADIATORS which are unrelated to his new scenes. One can also spot other PEPLUM actors in the stock footage. Livia is played by Lucretia Love, born Lucretia Hickerson, from Texas. She was 32 years old when she made this. She actually looks older than 32. An old virgin, I guess. Haha! Danilo Mattei went on to star in movies like CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1979)! Also known as LIVIA - A VIGIN FOR THE EMPIRE.

Yes, I watch everything!