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.
I created this blog in the prospect of a new project: a magazine dedicated to the PEPLUM genre. I planned this for some time (years in fact) but I started it in and around last summer. Well, I besieged with personal and professional stuff that prompted me to delay the project. I’ll be working on the magazine full time during the month of January, which means I have to spend slightly less time here and my other projects. Once it’ll be completed I’ll return full time to the blogs and such.
I’ll have more details on it as the project becomes fully complete. For now this is a just a teaser.
I’m taking a break next week and will take things from there.
Here are some fake magazine covers I created years ago.
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.
Can you guess which movie this is? It was re-titled as ‘BEAUTY OF THE BARBARIAN’ though it’s more known under its original title. This ‘edition’ was for a very obscure VHS release in the U.K. in the 1980s.
‘Man against woman’!
Artwork has very little to do with the actual movie. And it’s rated 18+. It makes it look like a porn movie of some sort, which is really not. There’s some nudity and tuff but it’s nothing like a porn movie.
Can you figure it out without doing a Google search?
Italian director Lucio Fulci has an avid cult following: he has a legion of fans who love all his ultra-violent movies. Personally, I like many of his movies but I’m definitely not a cult-like follower. One of his lesser known title is the Sword & Sorcery called CONQUEST (1983) starring Jorge Rivera in this Italian – Spanish production. The way the movie is shot is odd: tons of filters, smoke, vaseline on the lens. To the point where you can barely see what’s going on. The movie has been finally released on Blu-ray and though the image is crisper than previous versions, from the reviews I’ve read and from the screenshots (below), the ‘dreamy’ filters still keep the image itself from ever being fully clear. It’s probably one of the murkiest movie I’ve ever seen, PEPLUM or not. I don’t hate it. It has some interesting imagery but it’s more of a curio than anything else.
The Blu-ray edition is very rare, with only 700 copies made. The going price on eBay is at around $45 up to $70. I’ll never purchase this title at this price. The Blu-ray comes with a new artwork which I admit is pretty good. It also includes the original poster art as a second slipcover (above).
Below are screenshots of the Blu-ray (at 1280×720). Try to make out what’s going on.
YOR – HUNTER FROM THE FUTURE (1983) starring Reb Brown and Corinne Cléry. Directed by Antonio Margheriti. Though this movie was released by Columbia Pictures this was an Italian production. They planned to do a TV mini-series. Remarkably enough, the Blu-ray is released by Mill Creek Entertainment, the company which made the 50 MOVIE PACK: WARRIORS, the first PEPLUM DVD set I ever bought.
ARABIAN ADVENTURE (1979) starring Christopher Lee. US release. I sorta like this movie but I love the super elaborate flying carpets chase scene. It’s mind bogglingly complex. The movie is worth watching for that one extensive scene alone.