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.
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.
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.