Look at what just arrived in the mail…

I just received the two Blu-rays, HERCULES (1958) and HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959), from Japan via Amazon. I’m currently watching the first film while I’m writing this. Very interesting. The image is a clear improvement over what’s available even though the image has some scratches and a few defects, and some filters of sorts. I’ll write more on these Blu-rays in the near future. No English track. Only in Italian. I’ve seen this movie so many times that it doesn’t matter.

And this too…

More on this in the future…

Addendum:

I’m now watching HERCULES UNCHAINED and the quality is definitely poorer than HERCULES. Not a true Blu-ray transfer.

What’s odd about this DVD cover…

This Spanish DVD set is interesting, not only for the titles included but the cover art.

The set includes:  THE TROJAN HORSE (1961), CORIOLANUS – HERO WITHOUT A COUNTRY (1964), HERCULES AGAINST ROME (1964), MACISTE IN KING SOLOMON’S MINES (1964), SLAVE OF CARTHAGE (1956; The Sword and the Cross) and SIGN OF THE GLADIATOR (1959).

Pretty good set. Aside from the fact that the movie from which the artwork comes from is not included in the pack, what else is peculiar about it? A true PEPLUM fan would know this.

The answer:

GOLIATH & THE DRAGON was the US version of VENGEANCE OF HERCULES aka La vendetta di Ercole. VENGEANCE OF HERCULES was re-edited for the North American market and additional scenes were added, including those with Mark battling the dragon and became GOLIATH & THE DRAGON which was never released in Europe. This Spanish DVD cover shows the artwork of a movie that was never released there.

PEPLUM on Blu-Ray

Third update! I guess this is probably the most complete list of titles available on Blu-ray.

Second update! I’ve included the links where to purchase them. As for Canadians, you can switch to Amazon.ca for items I’ve listed here from Amazon.com.

Updated!

The number of PEPLUM titles available in HD is quite limited. I’m not including Hollywood productions which are all available on Blu-Ray discs. Titles like BEN-HUR (1959), THE VIKINGS (1958) or SPARTACUS (1960) can be found in the Blu-Ray format. What I’m writing about in this post are the European titles. Still missing are HERCULES (1958) or GOLIATH & THE BARBARIANS (1959). The list is endless. Here’s a short list of titles available on Blu-Ray.

THOR & THE AMAZON WOMEN (1963) starring Susy Andersen and Joe Robinson. Italian print.

ANTHAR THE INVINCIBLE (1964) starring Kirk Morris. Italian print.

HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD (1961) starring Reg Park. German print. English audio included.

ATOR THE AVENGING EAGLE (1982) starring Miles O’Keeffe. German print. English audio included.

Iron Warrior (1987) starring Miles O’Keeffe. US print.

REVOLT OF THE SLAVES (1960) starring Rhonda Fleming and Lang Jeffries. US print.

THE COLOSSUS OF RHODES (1960) starring Rory Calhoun and many others. US print.

The following titles were provided by Nick. Thanks.

SINBAD OF THE SEVEN SEAS (1987) starring Lou Ferrigno. US print.

HERCULES (1983) starring Lou Ferrigno. US print.

THE ADVENTURES OF HERCULES (1985) starring Lou Ferrigno. US print.

BARABBAS (1961) starring Anthony Quinn. French print. English audio included.

MESSALINA (1960) starring Belinda Lee. French print. English audio included. According to reviews at Amazon the transfer is not really good.

SLAVE QUEEN OF BABYLON (1963) starring Yvonne Furneaux and John Ericson. German print. According to reviews at Amazon, the quality of the print is apparently poor.

THE GOLDEN ARROW (1962) starring Tab Hunter and Rossana Podesta. US print.

The following Blu-rays titles were provided by Joseph. Thanks!

KINO LORBER will be releasing the Blu-ray of HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD (1961) starring Reg Park.

COLOSSUS OF RHODES (1960) starring Rory Calhoun and many others. German print which is much better image quality. I suspect the US one is a sort of up conversion from the previous release. You can compare the US and German versions here. No English audio though.

And drum roll…here are Blu-ray prints of these…

HERCULES (1958) starring Steve Reeves. Japanese print. In Italian with Japanese subs. Region A (which works in North America) but no English audio. The quality is apparently average.

HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959) starring Steve Reeves. Same as above: Region A with no English audio. Only Italian with Japanese subs.

You can purchase both together in a box set.

I already purchased the two.

ULYSSES (1954) starring Kirk Douglas. German print with English audio included.

And suggested by Gary Smith, two Mario Bava flicks:

KNIVES OF THE AVENGER (1966) starring Cameron Mitchell. US print.

ERIK THE CONQUEROR (1961) starring Cameron Mitchell, George Ardisson and Joe Robinson. US print.

and this one as well,

LONG LIVE ROBIN HOOD (1971) starring Giuliano Gemma and Mark Damon. German print with English audio included.

Here are others I found:

THE BARBARIANS (1987) starring Peter Paul and David Paul. German print with English audio included.

And two Blu-ray editions of:

MARCO THE MAGNIFICENT (1965) starring Horst Buchholz. German edition. Suggested by Nick.

But there’s also this one:

MARCO THE MAGNIFICENT (1965) starring Horst Buchholz. Spanish print. Reading the reviews, this edition seems to be problematic.

THE BEASTMASTER (1983) starring Marc Singer and Tanya Roberts. Australian print. It doesn’t seem to be available.

THE BEASTMASTER (1983) starring Marc Singer and Tanya Roberts. Spanish print. English audio included.

THE BLACK TULIP (1964) starring Alan Delon and Virna Lisi. German print. All regions.

THE BLACK TULIP (1964) starring Alan Delon and Virna Lisi. French print.

The ANGELIQUE series is available on Blu-ray in French or German.

WHOM THE GODS WISH TO DESTROY (1966) starring Karin Dor and Terence Hill. No English audio. The silent version is also available on Blu-ray.

Another Blu-ray release:

MESSALINA (1960) starring Belinda Lee. Spanish print. English audio included. Thanks, Gary.

—-

I’ve updated the list thanks to input from others. More than before but still missing major titles, mainly in English. In light of this, a great source of PEPLUM titles in HD are from TV broadcasts. None of them in English though.

If you have any additional titles to add, leave a comment. I’ll add them to this list.

The eternal dichotomy…religion and sex!


New sex slave is branded in SODOM & GOMORRAH (1962; 1963 in the US)

For a genre that’s intrinsically attached to religion, the PEPLUM genre is certainly filled with contradictory aspects, with the most obvious one being its penchant for fleshy action. As a genre, PEPLUM cinema is one of if not the sexiest ever. How is it then that the source of the majority of its stories have a religious aspect? Torture, sex slaves, skimpy costumes, etc, are all elements found in nearly all movies of said genre. It’s quite the dichotomy. I won’t go over this subject in great details here. I could write a whole book on the very subject. In fact, I wrote a series of articles at PEPLUM TV on the very subject: The Real PEPLUM X. This post is just to mention this eternal dichotomy of PEPLUM movies.

Odd angle of Anthony Steffen seen in SODOM & GOMORRAH

Of course, not every PEPLUM movie has a religious tone or are based on stories from the Bible. The genre is filled with historical dramas, like CLEOPATRA (1963) or stories of Greek mythology, such as HERCULES (1958), which are also a good source for sexy hijinks. Beefy men in short tunics or dancing nymphs in skimpy costumes. The many sexual aspects of PEPLUM included same sex attraction, as seen below with Nicholas Clay and Michael Biehn as lovers in THE MATYRDOM OF SAINT SEBASTIEN (1984).

Though already overtly sexy or sexual during the Golden Era ( 1949 to 1965), what PEPLUM movies hinted at during that period became overt and at times graphic in the 1970s. Movies set in Antiquity from that decade morphed into the soft-core or hardcore variety. Nudity and kinky sex became the norm with such films as THE ARENA (1974) or CALIGULA (1979). Torture scenes in old PEPLUM movies became graphic in details in CALIGULA 2: THE UNTOLD STORY (1982; below; with David Brandon, Laura Gemser and Charles Borromel). When one thinks about it, it was the natural progression of the genre. The things which made it popular back in the day eventually became the norm in future periods. Sex sold many of those films so for the genre to go full frontal was inevitable. Cable TV shows like SPARTACUS (2010 – 2013) continued with the trend of sex in PEPLUM productions.

But today the genre is pretty much dead. Is there too much sex in PEPLUM movies or TV shows? Was it better when it was suggested and not full frontal? And unlike how things unfolded in the past, when sexiness pretty much sold these movies, and with so much nudity in the mainstream, the promise of sex won’t be enough of a selling point to ignite another PEPLUM explosion. As for religion, people are less and less religious these days. Is this also one of the reasons why PEPLUM movies aren’t popular anymore? Not because of a lack of interest in religious stories (that could explain part of it) but because of this duality, of religion and sex, seem to go hand in hand and without a predominately religious audience,  the genre’s eternal dichotomy can’t be as effective as it was 60 years ago.


Bondage! Popular in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956; with Vincent
Price and John Derek)

Mistakes and the PEPLUM genre

Mistakes, confusion and the PEPLUM genre go hand in hand. For example, here’s a screenshot of the massive book, L’ANTIQUITE AU CINEMA by Herve Dumont. You’d think they would know their stuff but alas even authors who write books on PEPLUM movies don’t know their stuff.

Mistakes are normal (I’ve done my fair share of mistakes) but this one is inexcusable. The author cites this photo as being from HERCULES (1958…not 1957) when in fact it’s from HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959). It’s pretty obvious to anyone who has seen these two films. With Steve Reeves, Sylva Koscina and Gabriele Antonini.