Thursday, September 30, 2021

By the Gods!

Alfio Caltabiano in SEVEN FROM THEBES (1964)

Alfio's best performance in a PEPLUM movie. The stuntman - stunt choreographer acted as well and this is by far his best role. He makes the movie. He's so bad. The movie itself is a serious PEPLUM. I like it even if it has a dour tone and most of the cast are unknowns. I have two copies of this: the Sinister Cinema one (screenshot taken from it) in English, and one in widescreen and better colours but in Italian only and  the resolution is low. This definitely needs an upgrade, in English.


Original US lobby cards set of HERCULES, SAMSON AND ULYSSES (1963 Italy; 1965 US) starring Kirk Morris, Moira Orfei and Iloosh Khoshabe. Good set. It has many memorable scenes. Unfortunately, the printing is terrible and colourized black and white photos look garish. But good set nonetheless. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

HD Alert!

 Steve Reeves, as Aeneas, in THE TROJAN HORSE (1961) 

Amazon Prime in Canada has this movie. It doesn't say if it's in HD or SD but from looking at the image, it's higher than standard definition. The image itself is not too clear because one can't take screenshots of movies or tv shows on Amazon (or at least from my computer) so this image was taken from my phone. This is the best English version of this film yet. Runtime: 99 minutes. It's the only Steve Reeves movie at Amazon Prime Canada.   


More books from my library*. Two of these books are in French which, I know, not everyone can read but since I can I'll give you an idea of what they are.

Posted at the permanent page: PEPLUM Books




- Excellent print material
- Beautiful typeface
- Batch of photos in the centre of the book. Nearly all Hollywood productions. Almost all in color.


- Insulting book
- Hollywood-centric
- Inadequate in every way
- Author starts by stating he hates PEPLUM movies

Great idea. Terrible execution. This fellow's idea of the PEPLUM is a joke. He's only someone who has connections in France and got this idea and proceeded to make a mockery of the genre. Some of the stuff I've read in this dictionary boggles the mind. The author thinks he's a 'enfant terrible' and everything is beneath him, well, except for Hollywood movies. I was thinking of doing a dictionary of the genre before buying this. The idea is cool. Unfortunately, this is not it. Someone who doesn't know anything about the genre and reads this first won't be more informed after reading it. I'll have a full review of it soon.


LE PEPLUM by Christophe Champclaux and Linda Tahir Meriau


- Photos, photos, photos
- Easy to read
- More of general overview of the genre than anything else


- Too many photos
- Bland
- Authors are not really PEPLUM fans

If you're someone like me, this book is pointless. If you know nothing about the genre though, this is a fun introduction. This book reminded me of the FANTASTIC FIFTIES magazine reviewed previously. It's mostly big photos with generic writing on the genre. The authors have written and published several books on other genres, which told me they weren't really interested in these kind of films. They do have Michel Eloy participate in it, who is a fan of the genre and runs a website on the PEPLUM genre. 

*Note: I didn't buy the book. A friend took photos of every page, which I read. I'm glad I didn't buy it. 


This review is not like the others I've written before since this book is more of a critique of the genre than a listing of movies, actors, etc. It's academic in nature and very much serious. It's not just a historical overview of PEPLUM movies but a deconstruction of the entire genre, including topics like the hero's skin. The author admits researching and writing the book, his friends 'tolerated' his 'obsession' with these movies. I'm thinking, "I won't expect much of this" and I was right. The author goes over the muscle men, bodies and even skin of heroes in PEPLUM movies. Okay...but do they actually like these movies? The fact that the author wrote pages and pages about the hero's skin and used VENGEANCE OF URSUS as an example and not MACISTE IN HELL (1962) starring Kirk Morris as an example shows the author has no clue of what he's talking about. If there's one more which perfectly exemplifies the use of the hero's physique or skin, it's MACISTE IN HELL. 

There are many of these types of 'academic' books and for me they are totally perplexing. Who are these people? I started the blog in 2010. I've had Youtube channels with PEPLUM movies since 2007. I have tons of contacts of fans and people interested in the genre and yet all of the authors of these types of books are nowhere to be seen. The author lists a number of people who helped him on the subject and oddly enough few of them seem to be interested in the PEPLUM genre. In one line, the author wrote: 

"Anonymous readers and staff at 'Cinema Journal' gave amazing suggestions, as did Amanda Klein and Barton Palmer, editors of 'Multiplicities: Cycles, Sequels, Remakes, and Reboots in Film and Television,' who helped me think through how to give an overview of Peplum history."

I'm like "what?" The author clearly wasn't a fan of the genre if he needed this from 'anonymous readers'  or people with no prior history of covering the PEPLUM genre. BTW, the actual title is "Cycles, Sequels, Spin-Offs, Remakes, and Reboots: Multiplicities in Film and Television."

I'm confused by these 'academic' books. Are they really interested in PEPLUM movies, are they fans or are they someone who's connected and found an easy subject to write about, a subject few people know about and can't critique them correctly since only a handful people out there, like me, know something about the subject. After reading this book and the MACISTE one (both printed by Indiana University Press), I believe it's the latter. 

Monday, September 27, 2021

By the Gods!

Cleopatra (Virginia Mayo) is about to poison her brother (Bart Mattson) in THE STORY OF MANKIND (1957)

Describing this movie as unusual would be an understatement. Seemingly everyone from Hollywood appeared in it, including the Marx Brothers. But their roles amount mostly to nothing more than cameos. How come Virginia looked much younger here than in THE SILVER CHALICE (1954), made a few years prior to this? Vincent Price starred and narrated. Directed by Irwin Allen! Based on an award winning children's book.
 Big crowd scenes from other movies, including LAND OF THE PHARAOHS (1955), were used.

PEPLUM Movie Poster

Japanese poster for THE FALL OF ROME (1963) 

Another striking poster from Japan. Love it! 

Friday, September 24, 2021

Image of the week!

Roccia (Dan Vadis) is killed at the end of THE TEN GLADIATORS (1963), with Jose Greci and the other gladiators surrounding him. Two more movies were made after this...with Vadis as Roccia

At the movies...

Giant cinema publicity for THE GIANT OF MARATHON at the Nakasu Taiyo Eiga Gekijo theater in Fukuoka City, Japan, Thanks to Shingo Nishimura for identifying the theater.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

By the Gods!

Mark Forest and Dan Vadis duke it out in COLOSSUS OF THE ARENA (1962)

This fight between the two American actors / bodybuilders is long and extensive. It's typical for a boisterous Michele Lupo movie. You'd think this match up between these two big guys would have been considered a classic and yet it's not. I think this scene could have been up there as one of the best in the genre but some things about it don't work, including the actors' terrible haircuts. Vadis looks like Gilligan from GILLIGAN'S ISLAND. Same thing happened to him in THE TEN GLADIATORS (1963). And his clothes make him look like he's wearing a big diaper. Unflattering. It had potential to be a classic scene but other scenes top it. Vadis always did his own stunts because the Italian film companies couldn't find a stuntman as tall and as muscular as he was. The use of a stuntman for Mark is quite obvious in this scene, another reason why it's problematic even though it still fun to watch. 


Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd have fun riding a vespa and a bike on the set of BEN-HUR (1959), shot in Italy.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021


The Minoton slides a stone out from of a pyramid in SINBAD & THE EYE OF THE TIGER (1977)

Along with the skeletons and Talos in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, the Hindu statue in THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1973), the Medusa in CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981), the Minoton was one of Ray Harryhausen's greatest animated creations. The cool thing about the Minoton is that he's seen throughout the movie. He's not in one scene and that's it. The Minoton was also seen in pratical effects, with a man geared in a full size golden costume but for most of the time, the tall living satue is seen in Dynamation. 

Then & Now: Harold Bradley

Harold in COLOSSUS OF THE ARENA (1962); a recent photo of the actor/musician

Monday, September 20, 2021

By the Gods!

David Farrar and Ann Blyth, as Princess Shalimar, in THE GOLDEN HORDE (1951) 

A short movie, at 77 minutes. Even so, it's entertaining and the score is robust and memorable. I like this movie even though it had obvious limitations in regards to its budget. The dialogue is lively but sorta repetitive. How many times did they say Samarkand? I feel like I'm the only one who likes it or remembers it.

PEPLUM Movie Poster

Original Italian poster of HERCULES AGAINST THE MONGOLS (1963) 

Good art. Good renditions.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Image of the week!

Mark Forest as Goliath (Hercules in the original) from GOLIATH AND THE DRAGON (1960)


Steve Reeves and Sylvia Lopez at some soirée for HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959).

Thursday, September 16, 2021

By the Gods!

Ulysses (John Drew Barrymore) tells Aeneas (Steve Reeves) the instructions to the challenge in THE TROJAN HORSE (1961)

I always wonder how Steve was when a fellow actor was from the US and spoke English. Steve was often surrounded by cast and crew that didn't speak English and since he didn't speak Italian, he was pressumably often alone on the set, aside from th translator and such folks. Did Steve and John hung out during and after work? Barrymore was definitely a different type than the health conscious Reeves.

Lobby Cards Set: CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER (1960)

Original US lobby cards set for CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER starring Debra Paget and Ettore Manni.  This set is very good. Since this is more of a drama than action epic, scenes will sorta look like this. Aside from the repetitious scenes with characters leaning down or on the floor, the set really captures the entertaining aspects of this gem.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Clip of the week: SALAMMBO (1960)

Jeanne Valerie and Edmund Purdom. From a Fan Dub I created.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

HD Alert!

Mario Petri and Sean Flynn in a sword fight from THE SIGN OF ZORRO (1963)

Great sword fight filmed at the Monte Gelato waterfalls. As you can see in the top right corner, it says ACTION HD. This movie was shown in France in HD though the movie file itself is not in full HD. The image is also way too dark (a re-occurring issue with these HD transfers). If someone out there has the actual HD resolution with a less dark image, please let me know. 


Searching far and wide for all things PEPLUM! Luciano Marin and Steve Reeves in GOLIATH AND THE BARBARIANS (1959)

Notes on MUSINGS! and the blog

The last time I posted Musings!, it was the end of July. I posted stuff every week for several months. I love doing this. Now that I'm back after August's postings, there'll be some changes. Musings! will be posted every other week. And will be posted on Fridays instead of Tuesdays.

As I tested different posts during August, I decided that all the changes will stay. Meaning, on Fridays I'll post an 'Image of the week' to end the week, and the additional new posts of 'HD Alert' and 'SPFX DEPT.' will stay. I'll be tweaking stuff here and there, in a way to make the blog more cohesive.

The blog's stats have maintained at around 1500 views a day. Except for today, which is now over 3000 views. Again, because of the blog's limitations, I don't know where these visitors are coming from.



In the Musings! of July 20th, I wrote about the trend of adding a second director, usually an Italian one, to the credits of a movie ade in Italy. This included Sergio Leone added to SODOM & GOMORRAH, a movie directed by Robert Aldrich. You can read or re-read what I wrote two months ago. Well, one of the directors often added as 'co-director' is Mario Bava. Fans of Mario have try to give him more credit than anything else. One movie which is a great example is ESTHER AND THE KING (1960). Directed by Raoul Walsh, a great Hollywood director in his own right, the production was moved from Hollywood to Italy because of a writers strike. If one looks at the Italian poster for ESTHER, Raoul Walsh is credited as "A FILM BY RAOUL WALSH" and then "DIRECTED BY MARIO BAVA." See poster below.


So, it's no wonder some of the confusion has occurred on some of these titles. Saying that this was a Raoul Walsh movie but crediting someone else for the direction is, well, confusing. But I believe Bava's name was added to the poster just for marketing purposes. For instance, only Walsh is credited on the French or Spanish posters. No one knew who Bava was in 1960. Putting Bava's name (who was emerging, not established yet) was a way to sell it as an Italian production. At IMDb, Bava is credited for the movie as director for the Italian version. But the Italian version and the US version are the same. More confusion.


This Spanish DVD pack is interesting. It has 3 of Steve Reeves' Pirate movies, which includes MORGAN THE PIRATE (1960), SANDOKAN THE GREAT (1963), and SANDOKAN - PIRATE OF MALAYSIA (1964). The pack was re-packaged with a new slipcover. I wonder if it's worth buying. Of course, no English tracks. 


A Spanish edition is currently on sale on eBay right now. See BY THE GODS!


The last sighting of the statue, from 2020. It's still in someone's yard.


The so-called 4K prints of HERCULES (1958) and HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959), which surfaced on Youtube recently, barely got any views. Youtube is most likely shadowbanning the channels carrying them.

Speaking of those classic movies, from a friend in Europe, word is that the ARTUS FILMS HD editions of HERCULES and HERCULES UNCHAINED won't happen.

Are these movies cursed?


Future Musings:

- List of best costumes, for women and for men

- List of movies available in HD / Blu-ray

- PEPLUM Museum?

Monday, September 13, 2021

By the Gods!

Commodus (Alan Steel) shows his fighting abilities in URSUS - THE REBEL GLADIATOR (1962)

I like this film. A good combination of Muscle PEPLUM and Drama PEPLUM. In real life, Commodus was a fighter and fought in the arena in gladiatorial combats. He was quite the Emperor. Commodus was played by Christopher Plummer in THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE (1964), and by Joaquin Phoenix in GLADIATOR (2000). They weren't as brawny as Alan Steel though, who, like the other actors, also gave a good performance.

PEPLUM Movie Posters

German poster of THE TRIUMPH OF HERCULES (1964)

The title translates as THE STRONGEST MAN IN THE WORLD. Simple but eye-catching artwork of Dan Vadis.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Image of the week!

Hercules (Steve Reeves) fights with Antaeus (Primo Carnera) in HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959)

At the movies...

Crowded event for CLEOPATRA (1963) at the Pantages in Hollywood, California


Thursday, September 9, 2021

By the Gods!

Cameron Mitchell and Edmund Purdom, as King Sveno, in THE LAST OF THE VIKINGS (1961)

Usually, Edmund was subdued and quiet to the point of giving the impression that he's not acting but that's not the case here in this movie. He acted his heart out. Some might say it's overacting, which is not inaccurate, but even so I like it. In contrast, Mitchell, who often overacted in his roles, is restrained. Scenes from this movie were copied in the GAME OF THRONES TV series. 


Chelo Alonso posed for a photo in costume from GOLIATH & THE BARBARIANS (1959)

Tuesday, September 7, 2021


Scenes from THE LONG SHIPS (1964)

Excellent matte paintings by Ivor Beddoes. They're almost seamless. The movie also boasts practical effects or model work of the ships, of course. The list for the SPFX crew is long. 


Then & Now: Gary Raymond

Gary in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (1963); a recent photo of the actor

Monday, September 6, 2021

By the Gods!

Nancy Kovack, as Medea, in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (1963)

Dance / ritual scene from the classic movie. Nancy appears one hour into the movie, rescued from a raft drifting on the sea. Her presence added so much to the movie. 

PEPLUM Movie Poster

French poster oF HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959) 

Great poster! 

Friday, September 3, 2021

Image of the week!

Phaon (Kerwin Mathews) and Sappho (Tina Louise) embrace at the very end of THE WARRIOR EMPRESS (1961; aka Sappho - The Venus of Lesbos)


Gordon Mitchell and Bella Cortez take a photo together on the set of THE GIANT OF METROPOLIS (1961). Below: a screenshot of the scene in the movie.


Thursday, September 2, 2021

By the Gods!

Paul Wynter, Dante DiPaolo and Aldo Bufi Landi in ATLAS IN THE LAND OF THE CYCLOPS (1961)

The characters played by Paul Wynter and Dante DiPaolo were villains while Aldo is a good guy trying to keep a low profile. They are watching Atlas going through a 'Feat of Strength' (Gordon Mitchell as Atlas/ Maciste). I always like these scenes. Dante had fun playing the baddie, with Wynter as his bruiser. DiPaolo was married to Rosemary Clooney and therefore was related to George Clooney. Wynter won two Mr. Universe contests. This movie needs an  HD upgrade. 

Lobby Cards Set: HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959)

Original British lobby cards set of HERCUES UNCHAINED (1959) starring Steve Reeves and all. Great lobby cards set. One of the best I've seen. All great photos. No complaints.