Upcoming Blu-rays…

There are a couple of titles to be released on Blu-ray or Ultra-HD Blu-ray (aka 4K).

Two Kirk Douglas movies. SPARTACUS will be released in 4K and ULYSSES (1954) will finally have an official Blu-ray release in the US. This was probably prompted with Douglas’ recent death. Good news for the latter. If it’s as good as the one in Europe or Japan, I won’t need to buy them.

Click on title for more information.


SPARTACUS 4K


ULYSSES


GLADIATOR 4K

Two Maria Montez movies coming on Bl-ray. These should be nice to watch in HD.


ARABIAN NIGHTS


ALI BABA AND THE FORTY THIEVES

And this one as well…


SON OF ALI BABA

No other European PEPLUM titles on the horizon…

HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD (1961) Blu-ray review…

This review will be to the point: the 3 movie set is great and should be the standard for all PEPLUM movies.

There’s nothing much to review since everything is fine. I’ll describe the few issues but overall this release is excellent.

It contains the original Italian cut (from a German print!). One can view it with English subs. Tim Lucas gives a detailed commentary over this version.

Then there’s the UK version, with the title HERCULES IN THE CENTER OF THE WORLD.

And finally, there’s the US print, with the colourful Filmation opening credits.

The runtime for each versions:

Italian: 86 minutes

UK: 81 minutes

US: 84 minutes. (with Filmation opening credits)

I haven’t watch all three yet to see the differences and which scenes were left out in the UK and US versions.

That’s it.

The addition of the US print is the best thing here. It’s really fun and though I always prefer watching movies in their original, uncut version, the US version really gets you into the action with a pre-credit introduction with Medea setting up the story. I like it.

It’s well worth buying the Blu-ray for the new US print which previously was only available in an unwatchable pan & scan public domain version. Personally, I’m happy with the US version and the Italian one. The UK version is fine and the it’s great that the title differs from the US one but it’s sorta redundant. I think they added this one because the previous official release, by FANTOMA, was this version.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the image quality.

US version

UK version

Italian version (German print)

In the US and UK versions, the print is not a stellar as the Italian one, which has beautiful skin color and no visible scratches or defects. The top two are also slightly cropped.

Now compare this to the FANTOMA copy:

The three copies, certainly the Italian one, are definite improvements over the old FANTOMA release (DVD below)

For the most part though the image quality between the three versions are pretty much identical. See threeway comparison below.

As I stated above, the FANTOMA version, as good as it was back then, looks really bad compared to the new version. Just the size comparison blows the FANTOMA version. I didn’t resize the images’ aspect ratios.

One can see that the FANTOMA version was heavily cropped. In the comparison I made below, I resized the screenshot taken from the FANTOMA copy, aligned it to the KINO LORBER version. You can see what was cropped (in white). In the FANTOMA version, the two cauldrons were gone. The colours in the KINO LORBER version are also much more beautiful.

Overall, the three versions found on this set are excellent. Some have complained about the audio of the US version during the intro and opening credits, and yes the audio is sorta poor but it didn’t really stand-out to me because I’ve watched so many PEPLUM movies with scratchy audio, and I’ve made so many Fan Dubs working with scratchy audio, that it wasn’t much of an issue to me. The audio throughout the film itself is fine.

I watched the US version on my 27″ iMac and widescreen TV. They both looked great.

The swirling opening credits by Filmation. It must have been fun watching this in a big cavernous cinema back in the day. Some scratches are visible during the opening credit (see below, on the far right).

As I said above, the release should be the standard for all future releases of PEPLUM titles: including the original Italian cut and the US print, if there was a major difference between versions of course. If not, then having the original Italian audio as an extra would be good enough. In this case, the US version differed quite a lot from the Italian one so it made sense to include both.

Watching the US print for the very first time made me feel like a little kid. Whichever versions you watch, the film’s immersive qualities truly stand-out in this release and make the movie that much more engaging and fun to watch.

THE REVOLT OF THE SLAVES (1960) Blu-ray review

A must see in widescreen!

I recently acquired two new Blu-ray editions, of HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD (1961) and REVOLT OF THE SLAVES (1960). I’ll give a quick overview of the latter. I won’t be reviewing the movie itself (I’ll do that on the main blog) but I’ll still mention a few things about the quality of the movie itself.

So much grain on Rhonda Fleming you’d think she was covered in freckles.

Released by KINO LORBER, REVOLT OF THE SLAVES was one of those PEPLUM movies which languished in obscurity: it never got an official VHS or DVD release. It was released on VHS by Nostalgia Family but I don’t think it was legit (I have the VHS tape). And what copies were available were often in a poor state, such as the one by Nostalgia Family. I was pleasantly surprised when KINO LORBER decided to release this on Blu-ray. From their website, I suspect they did this just for Serge Gainsbourg and Fernando Rey completists, not because of their love of the PEPLUM genre.

A visible scratch on the image, over Lang Jeffries’ face.

As for the image and sound quality: it’s very good but both could have been better. The image is spectacular, showcasing the excellent camerawork by cinematographer Cecilio Paniagua but the grain is everywhere, and white dots and scratches are visible throughout. And the audio is very flat and weak. I wished they had punched it up a notch or two. The score is excellent (some new stuff combined with some familiar score heard in many PEPLUM movies) but the transfer doesn’t do it justice.

Fernando Rey, Ettore Manni and Gainsbourg.

I watched the movie from my 27″ iMac and on a HD Toshiba TV (below). The audio and image issues were present in both instances.

Scenes like this one really showcase the excellent composition of the camerawork.

The quality of previous versions were so bad that I shouldn’t complain but when a movie is released on HD I always expect the presentation to be tops and even though this release is excellent, it’s not really top. It’s a shame because this is one of those PEPLUM movies I can watch over and over again.

Wandisa Guida

As for the movie itself, some say it’s a knock-off of QUO VADIS (1951) or FABIOLA (1949). Personally, I don’t see the similarities. There could be more than a couple of movies about the same subject without having to be compared to other works. I think it stands well by itself without having to be pigeonholed in some category. It’s first and foremost an action movie, which the other two epics weren’t. They were big dramas with action scenes.

As for extras, there are only a couple of trailers, including the trailer for this movie. It’s pretty barebones. They could have at least included the Italian track as an extra.

Overall I’m pleased with it and I’ve already watched it three times. I just hope a stellar version will be released in the not so distant future.

Where’s Rosalba Neri in HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD?

I’ve watched HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD (1961) many times and I still can’t find where’s Rosalba Neri. In the FANTOMA DVD released years ago, it was the British version with truncated opening credits which didn’t include her name but the 100 minute long Italian version (the one on the Blu-ray is actually a German print with Italian audio), her name is listed during the opening credits (see below). And her name also showed up at IMDb. But I still can’t find her. I always suspected that she had a major scene that was eventually left on the cutting room’s floor.

Well…


Her name shows up during the opening credits on the Italian version (with German opening credits). But where is she in the movie?

The actress in chains is supposed to be Rosalba. This would make sense: it’s  a brief role but quite memorable, good enough for a credit. But looking at her, one can clearly see that’s not Rosalba. According to many sources, it’s actually Monica Neri, a relative (or sister) to Rosalba, who would sometime substitute for Rosalba when she was ill or overbooked her acting roles. LOL!

So, Rosalba is credited for a movie, and technically speaking she was to be in it but she’s not.

New Blu-rays…

I finally got two new Blu-rays (after waiting 3 weeks due to prioritized shipping at Amazon…). REVOLT OF THE SLAVES (1960) and the two discs, 3 movies set of HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD (1961).

I’m pleasantly surprised by the HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD edition. It contains 3 different versions, which I didn’t realize they were included when I purchased it. This idea is a must for PEPLUM movies, and I can’t wait to compare all three different versions.

The REVOLT OF THE SLAVES is pretty barebones. The movie and some trailers. I have to say that I really like this often overlooked flick. It’s a solid PEPLUM with tons of action, great cast, and amazing sets.

More info soon…

GOLIATH & THE VAMPIRES Blu-ray…when?

As I reported back on November 8, 2019, the Blu-ray edition of GOLIATH & THE VAMPIRES (1961) was announced. The movie is retitled as SAMSON & THE VAMPIRES but regardless, it was great news. 6 months later the movie hasn’t been released yet. No additional info. Nothing.

It seems the original prints needed major restoration but they should have some short clip to give us hope or an idea how it’s going to be. I’m starting to think it’ll never get released. It’s one thing to announce it and it’s another to have some updates on it. Maybe a sneak peek? Kino Lorber is a good company but this wait is getting ridiculous. The title is not even listed as a pre-order at KL’s website, and titles listed there go all the way to the middle of August.

On a side note, I uploaded this movie on PEPLUM TV Youtube channel but I had to pull it out of circulation because of some dubious copyright claim. I’ve uploaded it on all of my previous Youtube channels without any issues. I’m thinking this was done in preparation for the upcoming Blu-ray release but now it’s been so long that what was the point of claiming it nearly a year ago?

DEMETRIUS & THE GLADIATORS Laserdisc…

Does anyone have the laserdisc of DEMETRIUS & THE GLADIATORS (1954)? I’ve never own a laserdisc and I’m not thinking of buying one. But I’d be curious to know the image quality. I’m sure it’s nowhere as close as anything on Blu-ray but I’m thinking: did Twilight Time’s limited edition of the movie on Blu-ray was taken from this?

I still can’t believe how bad the image of the Blu-ray release, presumably taken from the Twilight Time edition. Below is the comparison between the DVD and the BR. The BR image is even cropped. To me this doesn’t make any sense. Was the BR copy simply an unconverted version of the  laserdisc? I’m wondering since some have stated the BR is an unconverted version of the DVD but the image of the DVD has more information on the sides.

Few upcoming titles on the Blu-ray front

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…

THE MAGIC SWORD on Blu-ray…

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.

New DEMETRIUS & THE GLADIATORS Blu-ray…or is it?

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!