How a Mark Forest movie became a Giuliano Gemma one…

HERCULES AGAINST THE SONS OF THE SUN (1964) is one of Mark Forest best PEPs. It’s colourful, action packed and the setting is sorta original. Giuliano is barely featured in the movie’s posters. Well, when the film was re-released in the 1970s all reference to Mark disappeared. It became a Giuliano Gemma movie. Giuliano is on the movie but he’s not the main star. Mark was. But by the 1970s, Mark had disappeared from the world of acting and Gemma was a popular star, thanks mainly to his Spaghetti Westerns. Even the VHS home release had Giuliano on the cover. Mark is nowhere to be seen.


ULYSSES in HD

I recently posted about getting the Blu-ray version of ULYSSES (1954), wondering which one to get: the German print or Japanese print. Well, someone (Alan) sent me a link to a HD version of a TV broadcast of the movie in France. It is gorgeous. Makes the movie look like a million bucks. I’m still wondering which Blu-ray to get but in the meantime this one will suffice. It’s only in French with no other language available. Starring Kirk Douglas, Sylvana Mangano and Umberto Silvestri. These screenshots don’t do it justice.

HERCULES UNCHAINED…the graphic novel?


I came across this comic book/ graphic novel on Amazon. I have no idea why this was made. It apparently began as a Kickstarter project. Anyway, I bought it. It credits the movie and some aspects are the same but many other aspects are different. Instead of Antaeus, Hercules fights the Minotaur. Odd.

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.

PEPLUM database that almost was…

10 or so years ago I began the long and tedious project of creating a database of the PEPLUM genre which was never completed. The project fell through after Youtube closed all of my channels: PEPLUMz, SapphoPEPLUM and WITH FIRE & SWORD. You can see the channels’ thumbnails on the left column.


Since everything was in turmoil back then I decided that it wasn’t worth pursuing since the channels were all closed. Since then I created new Youtube channels but the project was put on hold indefinitely. Now I’m thinking of resuming the project which might take up to a year to complete. It’s a slow process. Anyway here are some of the banners I made for the website.

How can you tell if a movie poster is authentic…

How to determine if a movie poster is legit. This one looks real but it’s actually not. It’s quite clever but not authentic. How can you tell?

Addendum: it looks like the poster is actually legit. It’s from the UK release. The reason it looked fake to me because of the misspelling of Giuliano Gemma’s name but mostly because the part of the artwork is from the original US poster (the chained women) of GOLIATH & THE SINS OF BABYLON, released in 1963, but the image of Mark is from HERCULES AGAINST THE SONS OF THE SUN, which was released in 1964. How can a poster from 1963, in English, have a photo from a movie made a year later? This aspect didn’t make any sense to me but it seems the UK release was in 1965, after both films were already released and they cobbled images and artwork from both movies for this specific release. Cinematic confusion!