NEFERTITI – QUEEN OF THE NILE Blu-ray…

More good news. NEFERTITI – QUEEN OF THE NILE (1961) starring Jeanne Crain, Edmund Purdom and Vincent Price, will have an official Blu-ray release in Germany. The Amazon link doesn’t have any screengrabs but if a recent print I acquired recently will tell well the image quality will be stunning.

Amazon Germany

Edmund Purdom and Jeanne Crain. A screengrab of a HD copy I got recently. I dunno the source of it (from this upcoming disc or TV broadcast…?) but needless to say it’s beautiful.

DUEL OF THE TITANS Blu-ray…

Great news! DUEL OF THE TITANS (1961) starring Steve Reeves, Gordon Scott, Virna Lisi and many others, will have a Blu-ray release in Germany in January. From the provided screenshots, the movie looks stunning. Can’t wait to see it.

Thanks to Joe for the info.

Amazon Germany

(the Amazon page claims the Blu-ray can’t be shipped to my location. I never had issues buying stuff from Amazon Germany before. Hmm…hopefully this will change by the end of January)

Steve Reeves and Virna Lisi. Beautiful clarity.

Stunning shot. With Massimo Girotti and Jacques Sernas.

Still waiting…

November 2019 KINO LORBER announced the 4K restoration of GOLIATH AND THE VAMPIRES (1961), renamed here as SAMSON AGAINST THE VAMPIRES. As the screenshot shows, the movie was supposed to be released in 2020, or early 2020. As of October 8, 2020, there’s still no news about it.

People posted messages supporting this news and added how much they would love to see more PEPLUM movies get the same treatment and yet nothing is done about it. There’s a HUGE market for these movies around the world, including North America, and no one is capitalizing on it. Like I’ve said so many times, the PEPLUM genre gets no respect.

New batch of HD prints!

There’s a current batch of PEPLUM titles now available in HD. These titles are not available on Blu-ray but were broadcast in HD or are available for streaming. This bodes well for the genre. Titles long left in obscurity now look absolutely amazing! Looking forward to more titles in the future.

Above and below: CLEOPATRA’S DAUGHTER (1960) starring Debra Paget and Corrado Pani. The most stunning HD print of a PEPLUM title, even surpassing the equally stunning German Blu-ray of THIEF OF BAGHDAD (1961) starring Steve Reeves. I’m just amazed by the clarity of the image. This movie has not been released on BR but is available as a streaming title in Italy.

Above and below (2): Another beautiful print of a favourite movie of mine, ULYSSES AGAINST HERCULES (1962) starring Georges Marchal. Not as stunning as CLEOPATRA’S DAUGHTER or THIEF OF BAGHDAD it’s still great to see.

ULYSSES AGAINST HERCULES was filmed on the Canary Islands. As the image above shows, the image quality is not as perfect as CLEOPATRA’S DAUGHTER.

Above and below: SULEIMAN THE CONQUEROR (1961), starring Giorgia Moll and Alberto Farnese (above) is hard to get movie and previous prints were always disappointing. Not anymore. Though not super pristine as other prints (as the below screengrab shows), is a definite improvement over other releases. Worthy of a Fan Dub.

And last but not least. A recent showing of SON OF SAMSON (1960) on the Italian network, RAI. The image is stunning. Unfortunately, the aspect ratio is not full 1920×1280 HD. It, and Mark, still look great though.

KNIVES OF THE AVENGER Blu-ray review…

Mario Bava’s KNIVES OF THE AVENGER (1966) is an oddity. In regards to Bava’s career, the movie is pretty straighfoward will no Bava touches to it. It’s also a late comer, having been released in 1966, a time when the PEPLUM genre had been considered dead. It’s also pretty much a Viking version of the classic Western SHANE (1953).

But this is not a review of the movie but the Blu-ray release. Well, it’s not complicated: it’s a great release. The image is crisp and even though the audio could have had more oomph it’s acceptable. The thing is this movie often had fairly good releases so this Blu-ray doesn’t create a ‘WOW’ effect like other PEPLUM movies which had only crappy releases for a very long time.

I like it and the movie itself is fine though it’s more drama than action. Overall, I recommend it but mainly for fans of PEPLUM movies, of Cameron Mitchell or Mario Bava completists.

Here are some screengrabs from it.

Cameron Mitchell

Cameron Mitchell and Elissa Pichelli

Luciano Pollentin and Cameron Mitchell

Giacomo Rossi Stuart. One of the few optical effects in the movie: the ship was obviously not there (no reflection in the water).

ULYSSES (1954) Blu-ray review

I finally acquired the Blu-ray version of ULYSSES (1954) starring Kirk Douglas, Sylvana Mangano, Anthony Quinn, and many soon to be PEPLUM stars, like Rossana Podesta, Umberto Silvestri and Alberto Lupo.

The review will be short: the image quality is excellent. The details of the sets and costumes are eye-popping. The one issue, like so many transfers to HD, have to do with the many dark scenes ¬†which are very dark. I don’t know what’s the process which leads to this but it’s something I’ve noticed in nearly all new Blu-rays. It’s very annoying. But aside from this somewhat important point, the rest, meaning the not so dark scenes, are stellar. Beautiful.

The one big problem with this version is the English audio. It’s absolutely horrible. I have an old version of the movie, from a VHS source, and the audio is nearly as bad as the VHS version, minus the VHS noise in the background. The audio sounds like it was recorded in a toilet. So, great image (when it’s not dark) but horrible English audio.

This copy is NOT the soon to be released version from KINO, which will be released on August 25…Note: the release date has changed to Nov. 17. Hopefully the audio from that version will be much better. I will purchase it.

Here are some screengrabs from the HD version.

Kirk Douglas

Rossana Podesta

Sylvana Mangano

Alberto Lupo (far left) and Anthony Quinn

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.