Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Tuesday, May 30, 2023


Scenes from NEFERTITI - QUEEN OF THE NILE (1961)

Two matte paintings from this excellent production. The production values of this movie is above average and this is reflected in the matte work. I idon'thave the info on who's responsible for these. These look a lot like the matte paintings in TRIUMPH OF MACISTE (1961) though they are not identical.

Vintage article

Interesting article on the special effects/stunts of Hollywood epics.

Monday, May 29, 2023


Gianna Maria Canale and Paul Muller in CONQUEROR OF THE ORIENT (1960)

When people criticize the PEPLUM genre (the Italian kind) of just being low-budget movies they're often mistaken. They're not big budgeted films but more mid-range. There are some PEPLUM movies which are very low budget and this is one of them. Gianna's role is pretty much a walk-in role. She doesn't do anything in it. She filmed a couple of scenes and in return the producers had a big star's name on their poster. It sorta signalled the (slow) end of her career. Gianna retired from acting 4 years later and remained in seclusion until her death. She was one of the biggest stars of the era. Paul Muller is a regular actor of the genre. It's always fun to see him. The movie itself isn't bad but it is very low budgeted. Painfully so. 

PEPLUM Movie Poster

Original Italian poster of ERIK THE VIKING (1965) 

Fairly straight forward poster with Giuliano being the main point of the artwork.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Image of the week!

Princess Nellifer (Joan Collins) and Pharaoh Khufu (Jack Hawkins) are bound together in LAND OF THE PHARAOHS (1955)

At the movies...

DAVID AND BATHSHEBA (1951) playing at the State Lake theater in Chicago. Good crowd.

Thursday, May 25, 2023


Gordon Scott getting an impromptu massage from Pietro de Vico in GLADIATOR OF ROME (1962)

Gordon's expressions during his scenes with Pietro who plays an Annoying Sidekick cliché are funny. He's sorta like "Lets get this scene over quickly!" I'm not critiquing the actor but the character he played. The Annoying Sidekick is a staple of the PEPLUM genre as the link above shows. I like this movie but it's flawed. It has everything one looks for in a PEPLUM film, including Scott in top form, but the script is sorta lacklustre. The ending, which is action packed, is anti-climatic with Scott basically doing nothing. This movie was originally released the same day as COLOSSUS OF THE ARENA starring Mark Forest.


Kevin McKidd and Ray Stevenson posing with a member of the staff during the production of HBO's ROME.

Ray died on May 21 at the age of 58. He played Titus Pullo in the HBO series ROME. His other PEPLUM work was a role in KING ARTHUR (2004). R.I.P. Ray.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Clip of the week: TWO NIGHTS WITH CLEOPATRA (1954)

Cleopatra (Sophia Loren) gets a look-a-like (also Sophia Loren) to take her place for a brief time. With Paul Muller.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

HD Alert!

Steve Reeves and cast in THE SON OF SPARTACUS (1962; aka The Slave) 

Here's a brief overview of the new German Blu-ray of this movie: It's excellent. One of the best transfers yet. And there's an English audio option. 

The image above, which looks like a painting, is not retouched. The images below are not retouched. There are some image issues in regards to colours. I don't know if the movie was originally like this or it's the from the transfer itself but some parts of the movie have overly blue tints and overly orange ones. The scenes at night are clear, unlike many other transfers, including the German Blu-ray of DUEL OF THE TITANS in which the night scenes were extremely dark. Even with the colour issues, I highly recommend this release.

Here's a quick comparison. The image on top is from the new Blu-ray and below that is a screenshot taken from the terrible Warner Archive DVD.
 The difference in resolutions is amazing.

Here's a clearer view of the Warner Archive screenshot.

I hated the Warner Archive release. The image was way too dark but if you notice, the Blu-ray is very yellowish/orangy while the Warner copy is way too dark and reddish. But the sky looks more true to reality than the yellowish one from the Blu-ray. Again, I don't know if the film was shot this way but there seems to be some (not so major) discrepancies with the colours of many scenes in the new release. But the image clarity blows the Warner one to smithereens. The German Blu-ray comes with a slipcover.  You can buy it here: link.


More on the Netflix QUEEN CLEOPATRA Docu-series...

The Netflix docu-series QUEEN CLEOPATRA has got some of the lowest scores for a Netflix production ever. As the screenshot above shows at Rotten Tomatoes. At IMDb, it's even lower. It has a rating of 1% (below) making it the lowest rated productions listed there.

Producer Jada Pinket Smith blamed 'white supremacy' on the backlash. Maybe this backlash will inspired a new set of PEPLUM movies.

Meanwhile, news of a new Cleopatra movie was announced. It will star Gal Gadot as the titular character. Great timing!


And there's another production in the works, directed by Denis Villeneuve and that production will be based on the book below.

Monday, May 22, 2023


Cameron Mitchell and Franca Bettoia in ATTACK OF THE NORMANS (1962)

One of several PEPLUM movies Cameron Mitchell made in Italy. He was a supporting actor in Hollywood productions but became the lead actor in these Italian films. I like this one. It's quite entertaining. It uses scenes from THE LAST OF THE VIKINGS (1961) quite well and if you watch ATTACK OF THE NORMANS without having watched THE LAST OF THE VIKINGS, you wouldn't realize this. I like LAST but I actually prefer this one. LAST has some great scenes and cast but the direction is uneven while this one keeps one's interest from beginning to end. Franca Bettoia is excellent in her role. Almost all of her scenes are with Mitchell. She starred in a handful of other PEPLUM productions, including DUEL OF CHAMPIONS (1961) co-starring with another American actor, Alan Ladd. Franca is still alive. Also known as INVASION OF THE NORMANS (UK), or CONQUEST OF THE NORMANS (US) or simply THE NORMANS. 

PEPLUM Movie Poster

Original Italian poster of HERCULES AGAINST THE BARBARIANS (1964) 

The artwork for this poster is so different than the usual stuff. It's a busy poster. I love it.

Sunday, May 14, 2023


I love doing this blog but it takes a lot of my time. I take a break roughly every two months so this is that time again. Last full break was back at the end of February. 

So stay tuned!

I'll leave you now with King Leonidas (Richard Egan) from THE 300 SPARTANS (1962), saying "From this wall, we do not retreat!"

Friday, May 12, 2023

Image of the week!

 Hercules (Kirk Morris) on the offensive in CONQUEROR OF ATLANTIS (1965)

Lobby Cards Set: URSUS IN THE LAND OF FIRE (1963)

Original Italian lobby cards set (fotobusta) of URSUS IN THE LAND OF FIRE (1963) starring Ed Fury, Luciana Gilli, Claudia Mori and others. Great set. It has everything except for a good close-up of Ed himself. But there is a nice card with Luciana and Claudia. 

Thursday, May 11, 2023


Aladdin (Donald O'Connor) and his friend Omar (Milton Reid) are living the life in THE WONDERS OF ALADDIN (1961)

Steve Reeves was initially set to star in the role of Aladdin, which would have been odd. Instead, Lux Film cast him in another production, THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD (1961), which made more sense. Replacing Steves as Aladdin was...Donald O'Connor. Hmm...from Steve to Donald. The movie is colourful but the story is convoluted and the action episodic. It looks great but it's a mishmash of scenes more than anything else. Casting O'Connor as Aladdin was also odd but he had physical abilities that made up for the obvious issue in regards to his age. The production was cursed with major and scary production problems during the location filming in Tunisia. O'Connor hated the entire experience and was quoted as saying, "From now on I'll do nothing but drawing room comedies, and the only location I'm going on is in my backyard." Mario Bava is often credited as director but the camera technician disclaimed this saying that Henry Levin directed nearly all of it and Bava was mainly responsible for second unit tasks and technical stuff.


Fredric March goofing about on the set of SIGN OF THE CROSS (1932)

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Clip of the week: THE LAST GLADIATOR (1964)

Male vs Female energy. With Richard Harrison and Lisa Gastoni as Messalina.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023


Scenes from BEN-HUR (1925)

The silent version of BEN-HUR is replete with special effects shots. They used matte paintings, practical effects and models interchangeably. It's sometimes difficult to say if, for example, the shot above (with a moving camera) is matte work or model work. But all of it is brilliantly executed giving the movie a grand scale that even the 1959 movie couldn't duplicate. 


Then & Now: Michael Forest

Michael in ATLAS (1961); a recent photo of the actor

Monday, May 8, 2023


Jacques Sernas and Belinda Lee in GODDESS OF LOVE (1957) 

HERCULES (1958) became a huge hit around the world in 1958/1959. It created a new genre, the musclemen movies, along with being the first Hercules movie, the first movie about the Argonauts, etc. All shot in widescreen and with a bountiful of fleshy beautiful people in it. It became a game changer. But prior to HERCULES, there were a handful of other movies from Italy which, though not as big as the Steve Reeves movie, showed the future of the genre. GODDESS OF LOVE was one of them. Aside from fans of PEPLUM movies like me, this movie is totally forgotten today but back then there was a lot of talk about how sexy the movie was, including the original Italian movie poster. Jacques Sernas just starred in the big Hollywood epic HELEN OF TROY (1956) basically almost playing the same role in this movie. The emphasis of the movie was on sex or the sexiness of its cast. The story was secondary. The movie was shown at the Venice Film Festival. Lee began an affair with a prince during the making of the movie. Yes, it was all about sex!

PEPLUM Movie Poster


Proof that the movie was released in the US. It's something odd to say but there are titles in which their US movie memorabilia are impossible to find. The movie is sold like a Tarzan movie which has a direct connection to PEPLUM movies.

Friday, May 5, 2023

Image of the week!

Cleopatra (Pascale Petit) is dried off after a luxurious bath in A QUEEN OF CAESAR (1962)


VHS covers of GOLIATH & THE BARBARIANS (1959) starring Steve Reeves and Chelo Alonso. Remarkably enough, the covers for this movie, which contains some of the most iconic moments of the PEPLUM genre, has no scenes from it. 

Note: This is a repost of aa post published 4 years ago. I added the Swedish cover to the collection.


Swedish cover. It doesn't even include a photo of Steve Reeves.

English VHS cover with Steve from HERCULES (1958), not GOLIATH AND THE BARBARIANS. 

Brazilian VHS cover with photo from HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959). Weird.

The Spanish cover has a collage of images of Steve and Chelo from other sources.

The German VHS cover translates as HERCULES - THE HORROR OF THE HUNS.

The French VHS cover is a modern artwork of the 1959 movie with no Steve or Chelo in sight.

Thursday, May 4, 2023


Iole (Sylva Koscina) and other women and the old man are captive of the mad ruler Eteocles in HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959)

Am I the only one who thinks the scene which follows this one is brutal? Certainly for a movie released in 1959/60? I'm always surprised by how violent it is. And no one seems to be bothered by it. It's really effective but very uncostumarily harsh for that period in moviemaking.


Gerard Butler goes over some details with director Zack Snyder on the set of 300 (2006). The movie was filmed in an abandoned warehouse in Montreal.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Clip of the week: FURY OF ACHILLES (1962)

Achilles (Gordon Mitchell) against Hector (Jacques Bergerac)


Tuesday, May 2, 2023

HD Alert!

Here's a quick overview of the new German Blu-ray of CONSTANTINE AND THE CROSS (1961)

I like this release even though it doesn't have the English dub. There might be a reason for this. I'll explain later. But as for the quality of the transfer, I'm pleased with it but not dazzled by it. The quality of the image seems inconsistent. In some particular scenes, I know the film was originally shot this way (when Constantine fights with the lion) so I know it's not due to the transfer but many scenes are beautiful and sharp (above, with Cornel Wilde and Belinda Lee) while other scenes like below (with Fausto Tozzi and Christine Kaufmann) look murky and second generation. The differences make me wonder if different sources were used for this uncut version. It wouldn't be the first time a German release would have done this.

The great thing about this release is that it is uncut. The runtime is 2 hours and 12 minutes. I have 10 or so different versions of this movie in my collection and only one is 'uncut' at 2 hours and 7 minutes, in PAL 25 frames per second. The fact that the English dub is missing is most likely due to this. The original runtime of the English version is 2 hours. So 12 minutes were shaved from the original Italian cut. I don't know if the original uncut version is available in English. Just to give an idea of these issues with dub versions, the German version of the uncut print is in German *and* Italian since scenes that were cut in the original German release (see text below) lack a German dub, therefore it switches to Italian during those scenes. 

This Blu-ray release also includes an extra copy of the movie with the German cut, at a runtime of 1 hour 47 minutes. This version is DVD quality not BD. The resolution is much smaller but the image quality is nice, and during the Monte Gelato waterfall scene below, it's actually less murky than on the Blu-ray. Go figure!

I'll have a full rundown of every version I have and compare it with this new Blu-ray release. Hopefully, Kino Lorber will pick it up and release this movie in English in North America one day.



Lost Roman camps spotted on Google Earth

Thanks to satellite imagery, an ancient Roman camp was discovered in the Arabian desert. Quite amazing that it took this long to discover it.

From the article:

Three Roman military camps have been discovered in the Arabian desert, after archaeologists spotted their outlines on Google Maps.

The University of Oxford researchers have dated them back to 106 AD, believing they were used during a hostile takeover of the Nabataean Kingdom.

They also have the typical playing card shape of Roman fortified camps, which armies would have used as temporary defensive bases while marching on campaign.

Prior to this discovery, it was thought that the conquest of the Nabataean Kingdom was relatively peaceful, but the camps suggest a surprise, deadly attack took place.


Link to article

Monday, May 1, 2023


Terence Hill in CARTHAGE IN FLAMES (1960) 

This is one of many PEPLUM movies starring Terence Hill in which the star was mainly a supporting actor (under his real name, Mario Girotti) who would have first billing on VHS or DVDs, and now Blu-rays covers as Terence Hill. This is always something perplexing to me. This movie is sold as a Terence Hill film when his screen time is roughly in and around 7 minutes in total. The same thing with the recent Blu-ray release of HANNIBAL (1959). It's being sold as a Bud Spencer / Terence Hill movie even if both actors (who never appear together) had small supporting roles. This is not only happening with Hill's movies but other films, like HERCULES AGAINST THE SONS OF THE SUN (1964) starring Mark Forest is now sold as a Guiliano Gemma movie. So many Cinematic Confusion aspects to this genre.

I like this film but the English dub is truly atrocious and the movie itself is a downer. I don't know how they could sell it back then.

PEPLUM Movie Poster

Belgian poster of HEROD THE GREAT (1959) 

The French title translates as THE CRUEL KING. Like all posters from Belgium, it's colourful.