The only major non-italian PEPLUM Blu-ray release is the double disk of THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, the 1923 and 1956 versions. It’s a good idea but nothing earth-shattering.
Aside from titles that are scheduled to be released but have yet to see the light of day, such as the Blu-ray of GOLIATH & THE VAMPIRES (1961), titled SAMSON & THE VAMPIRES for the release, there’s no major European titles in the foreseeable future. Oh well…
Motion Picture Daily was a publication, in the VARIETY kind, which was printed, well, daily. It had tons of advertisements of upcoming and successful movies. Here are a couple of examples of PEPLUM movies.
There’s much more of these. it’s pretty cool to see how PEPLUM movies were sold and seen back in the day.
THE MAGIC SWORD (1962) was recently released on Blu-ray. It’s a fun movie with a good cast. It is very colourful and it’s a borderline kids movie (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Now I won’t review the movie itself (I’ll do that on the main blog), just the Blu-ray release. The quality of the transfer is uneven, to say the least. Some parts of the movie, the image is super clear while during other scenes, the grain is very obvious to the point of being distracting and quite annoying. The mostly studio bound set looks even more like a studio-bound movie. But was the quality of the movie itself meant to be seen in HD or even in 4K. The resolution of 35mm film is super high (15k or so) but I believe the print quality of this movie wasn’t the highest and would explain these inconsistencies.
Gary Lockwood played the hero.
Above & below: the climax with the dragon. I’m always amazed by how good this dragon looked, certainly compared to the Hydra in THE LOVES OF HERCULES (1960). But the image is very dark and can’t see that much. The dragon reminds me of GORGO (1961).
Above is a screen grab taken from the DVD release. Compare it to the images above.
The visible grain in the movie is apparent in many scenes, including this foggy one. The transfer cannot replicate the fog and grain is everywhere. Hard to believe this is a Blu-ray release.
Compared to other recent releases, such as THE GOLDEN ARROW (1962) or the spectacular THIEF OF BAGHDAD (1961) starring Steve Reeves, this one is disappointing.
NERO & POPPEA – AN ORGY OF POWER (1982) is one of many notorious sex / shock movies released in the wake of CALIGULA (1979). Though this Bruno Mattei movie is not on the same scale as the massive Tinto Brass / Bob Guccione sex epic, it’s still has its outrageous moments.
I recently acquired an Italian VHS copy of it and to my surprise many scenes were cut and others were changed to cover up the nudity in some scenes. This version still has nudity and the lurid storyline is the same but when compared to the different releases of this title I already have in my collection shows that these other versions have much more stuff going on. Much more. It’s very odd to see a ‘Sex & Sandal’, in Italian no less, that’s censored.
Above and below: the version showing more nudity and simulated sex (above) while the Italian version (below) has both actors covered.
Discovering these two different copies is a good example of why it’s important to view the majority all versions from different countries or releases. You never know what you’ll find.
Will any of these notorious movies ever be released in HD?
A new Blu-ray release of DEMETRIUS & THE GLADIATORS (1954) is now available in France (and sold on eBay). The cover has the Fox logo. Is it legit? It looks like it is but is it the same dreadful copy from the Twilight Time print released in the US? If so, then I don’t ant it. Unfortunately, there are no reviews, with screen grabs, of this release so there’s no way to know for sure. It has the English track.
Compare this to the Twilight Time Blu-ray which goes for $125.44 on eBay. Who would want to pay that much for a mediocre transfer!
When HERCULES, the Steve Reeves classic, was released in 1958 around the world, the name Joseph E. Levine wasn’t featured on any posters, lobby cards or even during the opening credits. Levine eventually purchased the rights for the movie for distribution in North America and he made a fortune since it became a success in the US. But the movie was also a hit around the world sans Levine’s help.
HERCULES was distributed in Britain (presumably the UK) by Archway Film Distributors. Below are some of the advertising and lobby cards of this release.
This looks like the cover of a press book, and if not then it’s the ad shown in print (newspapers, magazines, etc). It’s really cool since:
1 – Joseph E Levine’s name doesn’t appear anywhere on it.
2 – It states that the movie is making ‘record business’ on its premiere run
3 – It has, in very small print, the name of the original Italian film company
The photos for the lobby cards set are mostly different than the US one. Unfortunately, there are no dates on them.
Stuff from the UK is interesting in that titles released directly to TV in the US were actually released in theatres in the UK. And most often than not their titles differed from the (goofy) ones for the US. In this case though, the title for the US and UK distributions were the same.
Here’s an old article on Steve Reeves and GOLIATH & THE BARBARIANS (1959). It looks like it’s from a press book but I saw the press book and it’s not from it. The article is unintentionally funny.
Finding dubious stuff for sale on eBay is nothing new. It’s to a point now that one doesn’t really know what’s legit and what are dupes.
The two following DVDs are dupes. I bought them knowing they would be dupes but I was curious to see which versions they were. The DVDs were cheap and shipping was free. So, buying them didn’t break the bank.
The ‘HERCULES VS MOLOCH’ is taken from the Trimark boxset I mentioned in a post below. I had hoped it was a Fan Dub of the widescreen version but no it’s in 4:3 aspect ratio.
As for ‘HERCULES OF THE DESERT’ it’s a Fan Dub that’s available on Youtube. I personally did a Fan Dub of this movie and called it ‘MACISTE IN THE VALLEY OF THE THUNDERING ECHOES’. I don’t have it on my channel but many people have uploaded it to their channels. The ‘HERCULES OF THE DESERT’ copy is in poor quality.
Suffice it to say, avoid buying these.