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…
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!
I recently purchased a double Blu-ray set of THE ROBE (1953) and THE BIBLE: THE BEGINNING…(1966). It only cost $17. Great deal. The print for THE ROBE is excellent. No complaints. The print for THE BIBLE is also great but the issue, or issues, is with the movie itself. While THE ROBE is a classic ‘Hollywood’ movie, THE BIBLE, directed by John Huston, is anything but. When I purchased the double BR set, I thought that I would finally see that movie correctly since the previous versions I had were so dark that it was nearly impossible to watch the whole thing. Well, unfortunately, the Blu-ray edition is exactly the same: many dark scenes. This means Huston filmed it this way. It’s not all like that but it’s often scenes after scenes of dark moments. It’s a very odd way to approach a subject. The film looks good, even if the overall final product is a tad anemic.
George C. Scott as Abraham. Well, I think that’s him.
Don’t know where his hair and beard begins and ends vis a vis background.
I know electricity didn’t exist back then but wow, can someone turn on the lights?
Huston, who was a genuine director, probably saw that these epics were too bright, too colourful and wanted to imbue this project with a more earthy, serious, and realistic tone but damn, he went a little bit too far here.
I recently got hold of a high definition copy of DEMETRIUS & THE GLADIATORS (1954) starring Victor Mature, Susan Hayward, Jay Robinson and a host of other actors. The copy was impressive in that I could finally see details, like faces in a crowd, that were hard to see in previous releases. The problem with it was the image was truly murky or grubby looking, and the audio was not that good. So I decided to purchase an actual release of the movie. The only official Blu-ray release for North America is Out-OF-Print (OOP). Only 3000 copies were printed. And now that release is being sold for big bucks online. Since I wasn’t about to spend $200 on its Blu-ray edition, I decided to see if there were any other official releases in other languages. Mind you, I always prefer buying the version released for the NA market but since it was OOP, the only option was one from Europe. Well, I got hold of a Spanish Blu-ray from an eBayer in Switzerland, for only 5 euros. I got it today and the murky, grubby image with the poor audio is present as well. This tells me one master copy was made for all markets and they got it from the same source. Mind you, I don’t know if the US Blu-ray is as poor as the HD copy I got or this Spanish Blu-ray but both are identical, so I presume the US copy is the same. The Blu-ray has multiple languages available, including English. At 5 euros, I won’t complain too much though.
Images below can be made bigger if opened in new window.
The image is terrible. Too dark or too much contrast going on here.
The arena scenes are spectacular, even if the image is grubby.
Faces of extras are now visible or clearer, which is a plus if one is looking to spot a familiar face.
Spectacular scenes like this one really shine in HD. Even if the image is grubby and grainy, one can really sense the scope here.
The arrow points to a hair stuck at the bottom of the image. The hair is there for the duration of the scene. This tells me this print is an old print and they simply up-converted it.
Right off the recent release of the spectacular Blu-ray presentation of THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD (1961) comes the recent Blu-ray version of ARABIAN ADVENTURE (1979), which, in terms of image quality, is quite frankly the complete opposite of the Steve Reeves classic. How can a film that’s newer look this murky? I don’t know if it’s the film process or anything else but this Blu-ray transfer is disappointing. It looks exactly like the previous version but simply upconverted to HD.
The cinematographer was Alan Hume, so it’s definitely not the way the movie was shot. The image of the Blu-ray is very grainy and at times murky. It’s very average.
Emma Samms, Oliver Tobias and Puneet Sira
The great Christopher Lee as Alquazar
The mechanical, fire-breathing monsters. The same concept as MACISTE IN THE VALLEY OF THE THUNDERING ECHOES (1964)
The elaborate flying carpets chase/battle scene during the movie’s climax, the highlight of the entire production, still looks murky.
The German Blu-ray of THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD (1961) starring Steve Reeves arrived this week, just in time for Christmas. It’s such a nice edition that I’m very happy. Is it perfect? Not really but it’s simply the best edition available anywhere. I’ll have more on this at the PEPLUM TV blog.
The Blu-ray of BEATRICE CENCI (1969; US title: THE CONSPIRACY OF TORTURE), starring Adrienne La Russa and Tomas Milian, was released recently. Directed by none other than Lucio Fulci. Even if the Fulci name guarantees interest in many Eurocult fans out there, this release still signals a new phase of European titles becoming available in HD. This movie is not really as famous as other Fulci titles so it’s nice to see it get such a great treatment. Just to give you an idea, there are only 8 reviews for this movie at IMDb. Pretty low for a Fulci title. The movie is grim. Really grim. But I like it. The cinematography is especially noteworthy.
The story of BEATRICE CENCI was filmed many times. There has been 5 different movies made. There was one in 1956 with Micheline Presle in the titular role. This one is decidedly different in that it’s quite violent and fleshy. In probably the most shocking scene in the movie, Tomas Milian’s character is repeatedly torture, in the nude (see screenshot below).
There are so many titles that need to be release, such as LUCREZIA GIOVANE (1974). Maybe with this release other neglected titles will get the green light.
I got a copy of THE GOLDEN ARROW (1962) from the recently released Blu-ray edition and wow what a stunning transfer. The film looks like a million bucks. The film stars Tab Hunter and Rossana Podesta. The blog’s limitation do not do the screenshots justice. They’re almost perfect. Check out the detail in the ‘tent’ screenshot. One of the disappointing things in watching the old copies was how murky the image looked. Not anymore. Whether you like the movie or not (some people absolutely despise it!), it’s worth watching in this gorgeous transfer.
The black & White scenes are crisp and vivid.
Look at all the details!
Is there room for improvement? Yes, I’m waiting for the 4K version. Haha!
Here’s a comparison of the old version I had (actually, I had more than one version…) vs the Blu-ray print.