Thursday, August 31, 2023


Theodora (Gianna Maria Canale) is helped by handmaidens after a bath in THEODORA - SLAVE EMPRESS (1954)

What's a PEPLUM movie without a bathing scene? This one is quite luxurious with a big crew helping her with her bath. Taking a bath in the past was quite the task for the important people. If there's one star that's passed away and would like to interview it would be Gianna. I'm sure she would have tons of tales to tell. She was dubbed the Queen of Cinecittà. Whether this is fact or not, she was the most prolific actress of the PEPLUM genre. It lasted almost 2 decades but it was quite the career. Like so many other PEPLUM star, she retired early and disappeared from the face of the earth. This movie needs a real HD transfer. I have one in HD but the image is too soft and blurry to be a true HD transfer. It's such an over-the-top production. I love it.


An unknown crew member reacts while Steve Reeves and director Pietro Francisci watch while on the set of HERCULES. Steve was insanely cut here.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Clip of the week: GLADIATOR OF ROME (1962)

Gordon Scott on a St Andrew's cross. With Wandisa Guida and others. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

HD Alert!

Scenes from HELEN OF TROY (1956)

I usually make comparisons between copies of a title I have in my collection in a separate post but since I only had the DVD as reference, I decided to do it now with HD Alert. The Blu-ray is much better than the sad DVD transfer. I'm a fan of this movie and the director, Robert Wise, but I always thought the movie looked murky from the DVD. Well, no more. Here's a short list of improvements. I didn't retouch these screenshots.

- The image with the Trojan horse. Above is from the Blu-ray. Below is from the DVD. So much better on the Blu-ray.

- Corrected aspect ratio. If you look at the rectangular shape of the screenshot from the Blu-ray and compare it to the one from the DVD, you'll see that the rectangular is much wider. Warner basically squished the film, in order to fit better on most widescreen TVs but by doing this the image is distorted. 

- The colours are beautiful and pop, compared to the greyish image of the DVD. Flesh tones are beautiful on the Blu-ray.

- The depth of field work in the cinematography is also greater. You really have a better sense of space and depth on the Blu-ray than the DVD. There's no comparison.

- The audio is also better on the Blu-ray release.


- Squished image of the DVD (below) makes the actors look taller and thin. The corrected one above is more true to life. The colours are more vivid. And the image above is also not cropped. Compare the tree line in the distance between the two screenshot. So the image on the DVD was not only squished but also cropped. The Blu-ray fixed this. This alone makes it worth buying. With Jacques Sernas.


The colours and clarity of the image is much greater on the Blu-ray (above) than the old DVD (below). The image was drab on the DVD. With Brigitte Bardot and Rossana Podesta.

So, yeah, the Blu-ray is really worth getting!

Then & Now: Urbano Barberini

 Urbano in GOR (1987); a recent photo of the actor.

Monday, August 28, 2023


A mad King Herod (Edmund Purdom) during the ending of HEROD THE GREAT (1959)

You know that PEPLUM movies made in Italy are often disregarded simply because they're Italian productions. This movie is a great example. Great cast, excellent performance, solid production (sets, costumes, fx...) and story. If this had been made in the UK or Hollywood, with the same production, the movie would be remembered fondly but today it's almost totally forgotten. It's a sad thing since this one is so good. British bad boy Edmund Purdom gives a solid performance: you can see how evil Herod is and yet one doesn't despise him in a cartoonish way. One witnesses his evil ways. 

PEPLUM Movie Poster

British poster of THEODORA - SLAVE EMPRESS (1954) 

Nice artwork. That looks like Gianna Maria Canale and yet it also doesn't look like her. Her forehead is too large? 

Friday, August 25, 2023

Image of the week!

Messalina (Maria Felix) is seduced by Caius Silvius (Georges Marchal) in THE AFFAIRS OF MESSALINA (1951)

Blog Notes

The cover of BY THE GODS! magazine. I designed and wrote the whole magazine.


As stated a few days ago, I got HELEN OF TROY Blu-ray. I also got the book HOLLYWOOD AND THE BIBLE by Gary Smith, which I'll be reviewing later. I should get the LAND OF THE PHARAOHS Blu-ray this fall. I will also get ANCIENT ROME ON THE SILVER SCREEN eventually.


With the publication of the magazine, there will be reviews of books and Blu-rays and stuff in it. If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment.


I'm currently reading THE ROBE by Lloyd C. Douglas. I'm enjoying it. The edition is an old one and it's illustrated (below). The cover fell apart but the book itself is in solid condition. 


If you have any worthwhile recommendations for reading material of the PEPLUM genre, novels or not, leave a comment.

Thursday, August 24, 2023


Alan Steel as Hercules in SAMSON AND THE MIGHTY CHALLENGE (1964) 

This is a fun movie with a colourful cast and production. It is a comedy so people making fun of it...uh the movie made fun of itself. Anyway, I love this movie even though it's nowhere near being perfect. There are some boring scenes, certainly to do with the daughter and her boyfriend, which goes on longer than it needed to be. A slightly tighter edit and this action comedy would be a classic. Steel always excelled as Hercules. Steve Reeves is my favourite and Alan Steel is second. The one thing I'm critical is Alan's tunic here strapped from the left shoulder. I think it would better from the right shoulder. Or not strap at all. 😁


Nadia Sanders in her Queen Gaia costume on the set of THE GIANTS OF THESSALY (1960)

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Clip of the week: URSUS IN THE VALLEY OF THE LIONS (1961)

Ed Fury, as Ursus, is in a tight situation. With Alberto Lupo and Moira Orfei.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023


Scenes from HELEN OF TROY (1956)

I was curious to see how well the special effects from HELEN OF TROY would hold up with the new Blu-ray. They hold up beautifully. The scene in the first screenshot is spectacular. There's a lot of effects in this movie. Director Robert Wise loved using the whole gamut of techniques and tricks to accomplish the look of his films and this movie is a great example. There's so much more but for now I'll focus on matte paintings. 


That strange halation around the ship is more visible in HD but the overall effect is still excellent.

Vintage Article

A small profile on Steve Reeves, and his female co-stars, including Christine Kaufmann and Mylène Demongeot.

Monday, August 21, 2023


Rossana Podesta as Helen of Troy in HELEN OF TROY (1956) 

This screenshot is from the new Blu-ray release. I know I wrote last week that I was waiting to see to buy this and LAND OF THE PHARAOHS but I finally got this one. I compared some of the few screenshots I found online to the DVD I have and saw the differences so I decided to get it. The Blu-ray is a definite improvement of the dreary DVD, which is colourless, cropped and the wrong aspect ratio. The Blu-ray is much more colourful and vibrant. There are still some odd discrepancies, like the soft focus, blurriness, shifting colours, annoying halation, or distortions here and there but I think it's more the way the movie was filmed than anything else. Robert Wise is one of my favourite directors so it's nice how to view the film as it sorta was intended. I'll get LAND OF THE PHARAOHS most likely in the fall. I'll have a review of this in a future soon-to-be published BY THE GODS! magazine and a comparison here on the blog.

PEPLUM Movie Poster

German poster of THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII (1959) 

This is the poster of the movie when it was re-issued in 1966, with Sergio Leone is big letters. The image of Steve Reeves was 'inspired' by HERCULES (1958). Identical to the spectacular Italian poster minus Anne Marie Baumann.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Image of the week!

Concepción (Chelo Alonso) only has eyes for Captain Morgan (Steve Reeves) even if Morgan has eyes for someone else in MORGAN, THE PIRATE (1960)


Lou Ferrigno as Hercules on the cover of MUSCLE & FITNESS, promoting the then upcoming HERCULES (1983) movie.

Thursday, August 17, 2023


Linda Cristal as Cleopatra in LEGIONS OF THE NILE (1959) 

When you think of actresses who portrayed Cleopatra on the big screen, Elizabeth Taylor or Claudette Colbert come to mind but Cleopatra was also played by other actresses, like Lina or Rhonda Fleming in SERPENT OF THE NILE or Pascale Petit in A QUEEN FOR CAESAR. I like Linda's performance here but the script and sometimes the choice of costumes are a bit erratic (like the movie itself) which undermines her acting. The crown she has in this screenshot is the same crown she wears in THE PHARAOHS' WOMAN, which is also set in Egypt. Linda made a handful of PEPLUM movies but she's more famous for other genres, including Westerns. She died 3 years ago, pretty much in seclusion. The movie itself was released on DVD a couple of times, which are OOP. But no HD version yet. 


Laurence Olivier, as Zeus, is given some tea by a crew member on the set of CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981)

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Clip of the week: LAND OF THE PHARAOHS (1955)

Enters Princess Nellifer (Joan Collins), causing mischief. With Jack Hawkins as Pharaoh Khufu.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

HD Alert!

A scene from LAND OF THE PHARAOHS (1955)

I still haven't bought the LAND OF THE PHARAOHS or HELEN OF TROY Blu-rays. I've been waiting for online reviews to shed some light on these Warner Archive releases which, from personal experiences, have been hit or miss, mostly miss. The DVD releases of THE SON OF SPARTACUS and HERCULES, SAMSON AND ULYSSES made me weary of any future releases from Warner Archive. Unfortunately, there are few reviews. Of those few, it seems LAND OF THE PHARAOHS has the best transfer (the screenshot above is from that release). People appear to be disappointed by the transfer for HELEN OF TROY. I've seen many screenshots of PHARAOHS and though many of them are beautiful, many of them, mostly the darker scenes, are not that impressive. There are few screenshots of HELEN OF TROY and none worth posting. I'll wait a bit again, maybe a new review will finally pop-up but for now there not vital to my collection. 

Then & Now: Kevin Sorbo

Kevin in KULL THE CONQUEROR (1997); a recent photo of the actor

Monday, August 14, 2023


Tom Burlinson and Jennifer Jason Leigh in FLESH + BLOOD (1985) 

Has anyone seen this? It was barely released at movie theatres back in the day. Directed by Paul Verhoeven, aka SHOWGIRLS (1995), this movie revels in the gruesomeness of the sordid storyline. Here the two are sitting down where people have been hung. They eventually make love beneath the rotting corpses. And that's just one of the many 'shocking' aspects of this bleak movie. I already reviewed the movie here at the blog so I won't go into details. For those who have seen it, what do you think about it?

PEPLUM Movie Poster

Original Italian poster of THE GIANTS OF THESSALY (1960)

Great poster. I wish the image was better though.

Friday, August 11, 2023

Image of the week!

Jason (Roland Carey) climbs a giant statue to retrieve the Golden Fleece at the top in THE GIANTS OF THESSALY (1960)

Lobby Cards Set: EL CID (1961)

US lobby cards set of EL CID (1961) starring Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren. Great set but the emphasis is on big crowds. I like it but a bi repetitive. Only one card with Sophia.

Thursday, August 10, 2023


Henri Vidal and Michèle Morgan in FABIOLA (1949) 

This image sorta sums up the entire epic movie. It's quite big and long. For its theatrical release in the USA, the 164 minutes epic was whittled down to 97 minutes. Quite a feet. Presumably, the original cut doesn't have an English dub unless there's an International English Dub version that was never used. The movie was one that re-ignited the PEPLUM genre, along with SAMSON AND DELILAH (1949). The movie itself and the influence it had of the genre are often overlooked. It's not a 'fun' movie even though there are several spectacular scenes in it. The movie is in the public domain in North America but I can't upload it to Youtube.


Gordon Scott and Diana Hyland have fun on the set of HERCULES AND THE PRINCESS OF TROY (1965)

Wednesday, August 9, 2023


Hercules (Mark Forest) falls into a snake pit. With Howard Ross. From a Fan Dub I made.


Tuesday, August 8, 2023



Just to note, there are no good quality prints of this movie anywhere so the images are murky at best. Any, the movie has multiple matte paintings in it. They were made by Emilio Ruiz del Río, a now familiar name since he worked on many movies which I've already posted about. Above is a view of the city and a big crowd. The matte painting below is very subtle: it's that building and trees on the far left. And the third one, with the least clear image, is a matte painting of a building. In two copies I have, this image is totally dark. Hopefully this movie will be available in a clear HD print.

Blog Notes

I usually posts THEN & NOW or Vintage Articles on Tuesdays but for today, I'll make an exception.

First, blog views!

I don't know what's going on right now but the views of the blog have skyrocketed to levels never seen in the 13 years of its existence. The views reached between 9000 to 10,000 for 3 days! Prior to that, it had reached 8000 views a day. Nearly 50,000 views in one week!

I'm trying to find the source of this increase and I know one source though that doesn't explain all of it.

Anyway, for the thousands new visitors to the blog, welcome! I've been doing this since 2010 and I love it. And I really appreciate the views. I wish the engagement was better but we can't have everything.

I don't know if this is going to last but I'm enjoying it for the time being.

Second note: BY THE GODS! Magazine

I completed the first edition of BY THE GODS! magazine, after years of delays. It was completed last week and used an online service which prints magazines and publications on demand. It says it can take up to three weeks to get it delivered. Well, that's slow. Anyway, I should receive it before the end of August and after inspecting it and hopefully there won't be any corrections, it should be available for sale afterwards! I could show you the cover and all but I want to show the printed copy first for the reveal which should be at BY THE GODS! website. 

Monday, August 7, 2023


Tony Russel and Paola Pitti in THE SPARTAN GLADIATORS (1964) 

This movie is very entertaining even if the story is somewhat convoluted. Tony Russel is good in all of his films even though I often wonder why he made PEPLUM movies. He's hardly the Steve Reeves type. While doing some research I discovered that after the success of HERCULES (1958), Steve Reeves was linked to a dozen or more projects, many of which he never starred in. The roles went to other actors. Was this movie also one of those? Scripts were written fast after HERCULES became a hit and Reeves couldn't appear in all of the projects which were green lighted with the prospect of Reeves in the lead. This gave opportunities to other actors who could appear in it instead. This is why so many PEPLUM movies have a Reeves feel to them even though someone else had the lead role. This movie and THE SECRET SEVEN, a Twin Production with THE SPARTAN GLADIATORS, most likely were started this way. I could see Reeves in this. Regardless, it's fun and colourful film.

PEPLUM Movie Poster

Original Italian poster of ATOR - THE FIGHTING EAGLE (or ATOR 1; 1982)

Very colourful and dynamic comic book style poster. I like it.

Friday, August 4, 2023

Image of the week!

 A revived Talos goes after the Argonauts in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (1963)

VHS Covers

VHS covers of ATOR 2 aka THE BLADE MASTER (1983) starring Miles O'Keefe. A good selection of covers but major Cinematic Confusion as both ATOR 1 and ATOR 2 share the same title in different countries, for its cinematic or video releases, mainly ATOR THE INVINCIBLE. To differentiate, ATOR 1 stars Laura Gemser but not ATOR 2. And the US title is also the title for another movie.

US edition was titled as THE BLADE MASTER. Not to be confused with the Pietro Torrisi movie released at the same time.


UK release.


Australian release.


German release.


VHS cover from Finland.


Korean release with a cover by Boris.

Thursday, August 3, 2023


Attila (Anthony Quinn) has a discussion with Honoria (Sophia Loren) in ATTILA (1954)

Directed by Pietro Francisci, this colourful retelling of the story of Attila has everything: great cast, excellent production, good pace, etc. The only liability is the length of the movie. At 80 minutes, it's one of the shortest 'major' PEPLUM movies ever made. The movie was too brief to cover so much so we basically see just a fraction of the bloody history of Attila. The script/story needed to be fleshed out a bit more to be truly epic. Had it been more detailed the movie would have been one of the best. It is very entertaining, like all Francisci movies. Loren hated the experience though. Something to do with Quinn eating a greasy pork sandwich and a kiss. The movie was released in the US in 1958, when both actors, certainly Sophia, became superstars. Anyway, the elaborate necklace Sophia has in the photo above was reused in future PEPLUM productions


Director Pietro Francisci tries to out-muscle Steve Reeves on the set of HERCULES (1958)