Friday, August 26, 2022


SAMSON AND THE 7 MIRACLES OF THE WORLD (1961). Directed by Riccardo Freda. Starring Gordon Scott, Yôko Tani, Hélène Chanel, Gabriele Antonini, Dante DiPaolo, Leonardo Severini.

Original Italian title: Maciste alla corte del Gran Khan

This review of the new Kino Lorber Blu-ray edition of SAMSON AND THE 7 MIRACLES OF THE WORLD will be short. It's great. Buy it.

Seriously, unlike other releases, this one is pretty much straightforward and not much to go over. There are two versions included in this release, including the original Italian cut. And there's US American International cut. This version is where things get a bit tricky. 

The Italian cut is complete, same as the RAI HD broadcast, which I have. The only difference is the runtime. Not because the RAI one is cut but because the movie was shown in PAL format, which means 25 frames per second while the uncut version on the Blu-ray is at 24 frames per second. This slight change makes the runtime of the RAI TV broadcast shorter than the one on the Blu-ray. 25fps shaves off time from the original version at 24 fps. It's a European thing. Anyway, so there's no need to do a side-by-side comparison since by looking at the frame rates differences, they are most likely identical. 

I'll make a 'Different Versions' post in the future comparing all the different copies I have but the runtime for the on on the Blu-ray is 95 minutes 38 seconds, while the runtime of the RAI broadcast is at 91 minutes 52 seconds. Same movie, different frame rates, completely different aspect ratio. If I find any major differences, I'll post them in that article.

The image is crisp though not as colorful, or 'Technicolor', as the old Public Domain one. The one problem are scenes at night or dark scenes. Like so many recent Blu-ray editions, the dark scenes are so dark it's sometimes difficult to make out what's going on (above). 

Size comparison: Top left is the old Public Domain version available on WARRIORS 50 pack I bought 14 or so years ago. Below it is the US cut from the new Blu-ray. Same scene, same time, totally different aspect ratio.

The big issue with this excellent release is the US American International Pictures or AIP cut. It's *not* a genuine copy taken from a negative of that version. It's basically a Fan Dub, like those I've been doing for years, in which they took the audio from the AIP version, cleaned it up, and re-edited the movie from the pristine original Italian version to match this AIP cut. I don't know who did this but they did a great job. The opening and closing credits are from the old Public Domain print but the rest is nearly the same as the old version. The runtimes are slightly different but by a second or so. This is an interesting thing. Is it legit though? I'm sure the negatives of the AIP cut are lost or impossible to find so they reverted to this Fan Dub approach which works but it's not a genuine copy of the AIP print. 

Hélène Chanel and Leonardo Severini in the 17 minutes + intro that was cut from the AIP version for its US release. 

The other big difference is the Uncut vs AIP cut versions. The runtime for the AIP is around 77 minutes while the original Italian copy is 95 minutes (24 fps). That's a whopping 18 minutes cut for the AIP version. The question was: will the missing scene (nearly all the beginning excluding opening credits), have an English dub? The answer is YES! So the original 95 minutes copy is in English from the start. For years, fans like me had to watch the intro in Italian and then to English when Samson (Gordon Scott) shows up. I wanted to make a Fan Dub of it but this major gap complicated things. So no need for subtitles for the beginning of this movie.

The US cut on the Blu-ray starts with the familiar AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL PICTURES logo take from the Public Domain print. Don't worry, the image gets better after the short credits.
I give this edition a 10. Even though the AIP cut is not really a genuine copy, and even though dark scenes are too dark, and the Italian audio is not included (why?), and the BD is barebones with only some commentary by the omnipresent Bava-expert Tim Lucas, this release is near perfect. What's really remarkable about this release is that it's the first time a major PEPLUM title was released in HD first in North America and not Europe. Quite a miracle. More of this please.

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