Aside from big Hollywood titles, modest PEPLUM movies in 4K are few and far in between. One of the first Sword and Sorcery movies of the early 1980s is available in 4K, THE BEASTMASTER (1982) from Vinegar Syndrome. I have a soft spot for this movie.
There are already titles, all of them from Hollywood, that are available in 4K, such as SPARTACUS (1960) and THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956). See Youtube video linked above. The scene they used for the comparison (below) is not impressive. I see some different, mostly clarity, or less fuzzy, but of all the scenes they could have used from THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, they used that one? Mind boggling. Oh well…
As usual, Hollywood big titles are getting the 4K treatment first. There are few PEPLUM movies from Italy on Blu-ray so the prospect of seeing HERCULES (1958) in 4K are not in the immediate future.
Kino Lorber has announced that they will have a Blu-ray release of SON OF SAMSON (1960) starring the late Mark Forest. This is great news! It seems now that distributors in North America have finally realized of the many beautiful prints in HD broadcasted on TV or from streaming services in Europe. Oddly enough, an HD print, in English and the original cut in Italian, are already available on the internet. I have both copies. They are stunning. The English copy is 85 minutes long while the uncut Italian one with English subs is 94 minutes. Adding these two new copies to my collection, I now have 11 different versions of this movie, including one from RAI which is also very nice.
Thanks to info from my friend in Europe, SON OF SAMSON is already available in HD on Amazon in the UK so these copies on the internet are most likely from this source. The screenshot above is from the copy I have. But where does the original Italian one, with English subs, comes from? It’s odd that the announcement from Kino Lorber coincided with the availability of this movie at one movie website (which shall remain nameless…to protect them). Regardless, if the Kino Lorber release is from the same source, it will be amazing. It’s one of the rare occasions when the Blu-ray of a PEPLUM movie will become available in North America before Europe.
And yes I will buy the Kino Lorber Blu-ray once it’s released.
Kino Lorber has announced that they will be releasing a Blu-ray later this year of the neglected SAMSON AND THE 7 MIRACLES OF THE WORLD (1960), directed by Riccardo Freda and starring Gordon Scott, Yoko Tani, Gabriele Antonini and more. This is excellent news. From the sporadic info going around the internet, it seems the Blu-ray release will have the original Italian cut and the shorter US cut. This is perfect. Every PEPLUM release in North America should include both the original Italian version and the often cut US release.
There’s already a beautiful copy of the movie shown on RAI in Italy (screenshot below). The thing is: will the cut scenes, almost all of them at the beginning, will be in English or in Italian with English subtitles. The US version starts approximately 10 minutes into the original Italian cut. No English dubbing has ever been heard of those 10+ missing minutes.
I finally got the new FURY OF ACHILLES (1962) Blu-ray disc from GOLDEN NINJA VIDEO. The movie stars Gordon Mitchell in his best role. This disc also includes PERSEUS THE INVINCIBLE (1963) starring Richard Harrison, and THE TROJAN HORSE (1961) starring Steve Reeves.
The movies are not new prints scanned in High Definition. They are up conversions of previous DVD releases. To give you an idea, the PERSEUS one has the SON OF HERCULES song during the opening credits. The original release didn’t have that.
Why was this BD made? I dunno but one can watch these three movies via BD and not from the web I guess. The disc is only $12 so it’s not expensive. If you don’t have these movies then the price might be okay but be sure that the image quality is not High Definition. Personally speaking, since I already have all these titles in my collection, I really didn’t need this disc.
Here are screenshots of the movies.
THE TROJAN HORSE is available on AMAZON PRIME in Canada. It’s the image on the top left. The copy from the BD is on the bottom right. The version at Amazon is not perfect but it is much better that the one on this disc.
PEPLUM actor Mark Forest died on January 7 at the age of 89. He made 12 movies, all entertaining and fun. I wrote a comprehensive overview of his career and his movies at the main PEPLUM TV blog. Make sure to check it out.
What can one write about 2021? The faster it’s forgotten the better?
We’re still going through a 2 year strong pandemic even though it’s seemingly on its last leg. Hopefully, 2022 will be more productive, and more great PEPLUM titles will be released on Blu-ray or in HD.
SCHEHERAZADE (1963) starring Anna Karina (below) and Gerard Barray is available on Blu-ray. It was released last September. I didn’t buy it yet. I’ll buy it next year (haha!). Anyway, it looks good. Audio and subtitles in French only. It was released in the UK and Canada as SCORCHING SANDS.
I just got the new SINS OF POMPEII (1950) Blu-ray from France. The Blu-ray worked fine (haha!). The shipping was very fast. And the price reasonable. I’ve examined the movie to give a quick overview of this release.
According to IMDb, the original runtime is 110 minutes. The new BD is 98 minutes. The previous DVD, also from France, was 94 minutes long. So there’s a discrepancy with runtime, which I haven’t checked in detail since I only got the BD yesterday. The extras are barebones. This HD release has two short documentaries, one on the Italian cinema highlighting the movie itself and the other has something to do with propaganda films made to showcase France and its culture (???), both narrated by the same expert.
The image is nice but the image of the DVD was also nice. The beginning of the movie they state that the movie was ‘fixed’ or restored in 2017. The prints are virtually the same. The only big difference, and it’s a big one, is the resolution. To compare, I placed screenshots of the new BD version next to the old DVD. The size difference is amazing.
Was it worth buying? Yes, since the movie now looks great in a higher resolution but this transfer offers no new surprises, well, except for the cover which is stunning.