Saturday, August 19, 2006

IX. MISCELLANEOUS PEPLUM EPICS WITHOUT A PRIMARY HERO & PEPLUM ‘80’S STYLE


There were several Italian sword-and-sandal films that did not feature a major superhero (such as Hercules, Maciste or Samson), and as such fall into a sort of miscellaneous category. Here is a list of the best-known titles:

* ATLAS (1961) Mark Forrest directed by Roger Corman

* ALI BABA AND THE SEVEN SARACENS (1963) aka SINBAD VS. THE SEVEN SARACENS, Gordon Mitchell

* BRENNUS, ENEMY OF ROME (1964) aka BATTLE OF THE VALIANT, Gordon Mitchell

* CAESAR, THE CONQUERER (1963) Cameron Mitchell, Rik Battaglia

* CAVALIER IN THE DEVIL’S CASTLE (1959)

* COLOSSUS OF RHODES, THE (1960) directed by Sergio Leone

* CONQUEROR OF ATLANTIS (1965) Kirk Morris

* CONQUEROR OF THE ORIENT (1961) Rik Battaglia

* CONSTANTINE AND THE CROSS (1960) aka CONSTANTINE THE GREAT, Cornel Wilde

* CORIOLANUS, HERO WITHOUT A COUNTRY (1963) Gordon Scott

* DAVID AND GOLIATH (1960) Orson Welles

* DUEL OF THE CHAMPIONS (1961) aka HORATIO AND CURIAZI, Alan Ladd

* ESTHER AND THE KING (1961) Joan Collins, Richard Egan

* FURY OF ACHILLES, THE (1962) Gordon Mitchell

* GIANT OF METROPOLIS, THE (1962) Gordon Mitchell, Sci-fi theme

* GIANTS OF ROME (1963) dir. by Antonio Margheriti, Richard Harrison

* GIANTS OF THESSALY, THE (1960) directed by Riccardo Freda

* HEAD OF A TYRANT (1959)

* HERO OF BABYLON (1963) aka BEAST OF BABYLON VS. SON OF HERCULES, Gordon Scott

* HERO OF ROME (1964) aka THE COLOSSUS OF ROME, Gordon Scott

* HEROD, THE GREAT (1958)

* INVADERS, THE (1961) aka ERIK, THE CONQUERER, Cameron Mitchell, directed by Mario Bava

* KINDAR, THE INVULNERABLE (1965) Mark Forest

* KNIVES OF THE AVENGER (1967) aka VIKING MASSACRE, directed by Mario Bava

* LAND OF THE PHAROAHS (1955) Joan Collins

* LAST OF THE VIKINGS (1961) Cameron Mitchell, Broderick Crawford

* LION OF ST. MARK, THE (1964) Gordon Scott

* LION OF THEBES, THE (1964) aka HELEN OF TROY, Mark Forest

* LOVES OF SALAMMBO, THE (1959)

* MARS, GOD OF WAR (1962) aka VENUS AGAINST THE SON OF HERCULES

* MASKED MAN AGAINST THE PIRATES, THE (1965)

* MINOTAUR, THE (1961) aka THESEUS AGAINST THE MINOTAUR

* MONGOLS, THE (1961) directed by Riccardo Freda with Jack Palance

* PERSEUS, THE INVINCIBLE (1962) aka MEDUSA VS. THE SON OF HERCULES

* QUEEN OF SHEBA, THE (1953) directed by Pietro Francisci

* QUEEN OF THE AMAZONS (1960) aka COLOSSUS AND THE AMAZON QUEEN

* REVOLT OF THE BARBARIANS (1964) dir. by Guido Malatesta

* ROLAND, THE MIGHTY (1956) dir. by Pietro Francisci, Rik Battaglia

* ROME AGAINST ROME (1963) aka WAR OF THE ZOMBIES

* SECRET SEVEN, THE (1965) aka THE INVINCIBLE SEVEN

* 79 A.D., THE DESTRUCTION OF HERCULANEUM (1962) Brad Harris

* SWORD OF EL CID, THE (1962) aka THE DAUGHTERS OF EL CID

* SWORD OF THE CONQUEROR (1961) Jack Palance

* TAUR, THE MIGHTY (1963) aka TOR THE WARRIOR, Joe Robinson

* TEMPLE OF THE WHITE ELEPHANT (1965) aka SANDOK, THE MACISTE OF THE JUNGLE (Note* - this was not a Maciste film however)

* THOR AND THE AMAZON WOMEN (1963) Joe Robinson

* TIGER OF THE SEVEN SEAS (1963)

* ULYSSES (1954) Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn

* VULCAN, SON OF JUPITER (1960) Gordon Mitchell

* ZORIKAN THE BARBARIAN (1964) Dan Vadis

PEPLUM 1980’s

Peplum/Sword and Sandal principal did return to Italy during this decadent decade and upped the gore and nudity – can’t be bad really……..

* ATOR, THE FIGHTING EAGLE (1983) aka "ATOR 1", Sabrina Siani, directed by Joe D’Amato

* BARBARIAN MASTER (1984) aka SANGRAAL, THE SWORD OF FIRE

* THE BARBARIANS AND CO. (1987) aka THE BARBARIANS, directed by Ruggero Deodato

* BLADEMASTER (1985) aka "ATOR 2", Miles O’Keefe, directed by Joe D’Amato

* CONQUEST (1984) aka CONQUEST OF THE LOST LAND, Sabrina Siani, directed by Lucio Fulci

* HERCULES (1983) Lou Ferrigno, Sybil Danning, directed by Luigi Cozzi

* HERCULES 2 (1984) Lou Ferrigno, directed by Luigi Cozzi

* INVINCIBLE BARBARIAN, THE (1982) aka GUNAN THE WARRIOR, directed by Franco Prosperi

* IRON WARRIOR (1986) aka "ATOR 3", Miles O'Keefe, directed by Alfonso Brescia

* IRONMASTER (1983) aka THE WAR OF IRON, directed by Umberto Lenzi

* QUEST FOR THE MIGHTY SWORD (1989) aka "ATOR 4", directed by Joe D'Amato

* SEVEN MAGNIFICENT GLADIATORS, THE (1985) Lou Ferrigno, Dan Vadis

* SHE (1983) Sandahl Bergman, Gordon Mitchell

* SINDBAD OF THE SEVEN SEAS (1988) Lou Ferrigno, directed by Luigi Cozzi

* THRONE OF FIRE, THE (1983) Sabrina Siani, directed by Franco Prosperi

Let the reviews commence...............................................................

VIII. THE SONS OF HERCULES MOVIES & STEVE REEVES’ OTHER ROLES


The Sons of Hercules was a syndicated television show that aired in the States in the 1960s. The series re-invented 14 Italian sword-and-sandal films by giving them a catchy theme tune and a standard introduction relating the lead character in each film to the Greek demigod Hercules any way they could. The films are not in chronological order, as they are not really connected to each other plotwise. The first title listed for each film was its American television title, followed by the translation of the original Italian title in parentheses:

* Mole Men versus the Son of Hercules (Maciste, The Strongest Man in the World) starring Mark Forest as Maciste

* The Terror of Rome versus the Son of Hercules (Maciste, Gladiator of Sparta) starring Mark Forest as Maciste

* Fire Monsters Against The Son Of Hercules (Maciste Vs. The Monsters) starring Reg Lewis as Maciste

* Triumph Of The Son Of Hercules (The Triumph Of Maciste) starring Kirk Morris as Maciste

* Son Of Hercules In The Land Of Darkness (Hercules The Invincible) starring Dan Vadis as Hercules

* Ulysses Vs. The Son Of Hercules (Ulysses Against Hercules) starring Mike Lane as Hercules

* Son Of Hercules In The Land Of Fire (Ursus In The Land Of Fire) starring Ed Fury as Ursus

* Ursus, Son Of Hercules (aka Ursus, aka Mighty Ursus) starring Ed Fury as Ursus

* The Tyrant Of Lydia Vs. The Son Of Hercules (Goliath and the Rebel Slave) starring Gordon Scott as Goliath

* Messalina Against the Son Of Hercules (The Last Gladiator) starring Richard Harrison as Glaucus

* The Devil Of The Desert Vs. The Son Of Hercules (Anthar The Invincible) starring Kirk Morris as Anthar

* Medusa Vs. The Son Of Hercules (Perseus The Invincible) starring Richard Harrison as Perseus

* The Beast Of Babylon Versus The Son Of Hercules (Hero Of Babylon) starring Gordon Scott as Prince Nippur

* Venus Against The Son Of Hercules (Mars, God Of War) starring Roger Browne as Mars

COMPLETE LIST OF STEVE REEVES' OTHER MUSCLEBOUND ROLES

* AVENGER, THE (1962) aka THE LEGEND OF AENEAS, aka THE LAST GLORY OF TROY

* DUEL OF THE TITANS (1961) aka ROMULUS AND REMUS

* GIANT OF MARATHON, THE (1959) aka THE BATTLE OF MARATHON

* GOLIATH AND THE BARBARIANS (1959) aka TERROR OF THE BARBARIANS


* HERCULES (1957)

* HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959)

* LAST DAYS OF POMPEII, THE (1959)

* MORGAN, THE PIRATE (1960)

* PIRATES OF THE SEVEN SEAS (1964)

* SANDOKAN, THE GREAT (1964) aka THE PIRATES OF MALAYSIA

* SLAVE, THE (1962) aka SON OF SPARTACUS


* THIEF OF BAGHDAD, THE (1960)

* TROJAN HORSE, THE (1961) aka THE TROJAN WAR

* WHITE WARRIOR, THE (1959) directed by Riccardo Freda

Next time we round our 'listings' off with a list of other sword & sandal / peplum epics without the staple hero ingredient as well as Peplum of the' 80's.........................................

VII. THE ITALIAN GLADIATOR MOVIES


* FABIOLA (1948) aka THE FIGHTING GLADIATOR
* SINS OF ROME (1952) aka SPARTACUS, directed by Riccardo Freda
* INVINCIBLE GLADIATOR, THE (1961) Richard Harrison
* GLADIATOR OF
ROME (1962) aka BATTLE OF THE GLADIATORS Gordon Scott
* SLAVE, THE (1962) aka SON OF SPARTACUS, Steve Reeves

* GLADIATORS SEVEN (1962) aka THE SEVEN GLADIATORS, Richard Harrison
* LAST GLADIATOR, THE (1963) aka MESSALINA AGAINST THE SON OF HERCULES

* THE TEN GLADIATORS
(1963) Dan Vadis
* URSUS, THE REBEL GLADIATOR (1963) aka THE REBEL GLADIATORS, Dan Vadis
* MACISTE, GLADIATOR OF
SPARTA (1964) aka TERROR OF ROME VS. THE SON OF HERCULES
* SPARTACUS AND THE TEN GLADIATORS (1964) aka TEN INVINCIBLE GLADIATORS, Dan Vadis
* CHALLENGE OF THE GLADIATOR
(1965) Peter Lupus
* REVENGE OF SPARTACUS, THE (1965) Roger Browne

* TRIUMPH OF THE TEN GLADIATORS (1965) Dan Vadis
* SEVEN MAGNIFICENT GLADIATORS, THE (1985) Lou Ferrigno, Dan Vadis

Next time 'The Sons of Hercules' TV Syndication Package & SteeveReeves' Other 'Hero' movies.................

VI. THE ITALIAN GOLIATH MOVIES (1960-1964)

After the classic "Hercules” became a blockbuster sensation in the film industry, a 1959 Steve Reeves film ("Terror of the Barbarians") was retitled "Goliath and the Barbarians" in the USA, the film was so successful at the box office, it inspired Italian filmmakers to do a series of 4 films featuring a beefcake hero named Goliath. We cannot categorise these movies with the 1960’s Orson Welles ‘David and Goliath’ as that is a pure representation of the Christian mythological fable.

The Goliath 4 ;

* Goliath contro i giganti/ Goliath Against the Giants (1960) starring Brad Harris as Goliath.

* Goliath e la schiava ribelle/ Goliath and the Rebel Slave (aka The Tyrant of Lydia Vs. The Son of Hercules, 1963) starring Gordon Scott as Goliath

* Golia e il cavaliere mascherato/ Goliath and the Masked Rider (aka Hercules and the Masked Rider, 1964) starring Alan Steel as Goliath.

* Golia alla conquista di Bagdad/ Goliath at the Conquest of Baghdad (aka Goliath at the Conquest of Damascus, 1964) starring Peter Lupus as Goliath.

The name "Goliath" was later inserted into the film titles of 3 other Italian muscleman movies that were retitled for distribution in the USA in an attempt to cash in on the Goliath craze, but these films were not originally made as Goliath movies in Italy. Both "Goliath and the Vampires" (1961) and "Goliath and the Sins of Babylon" (1963) actually featured the famed superhero Maciste in the original Italian versions, but American distributors didn't feel the name Maciste had any meaning to American audiences. "Goliath and the Dragon" (1960) was originally an Italian Hercules movie called "The Revenge of Hercules".

Next 'The Italian Gladiator Movies'...................................

V. THE ITALIAN SAMSON MOVIES 1961-1964

Please find details of the 'Samson' sword & sandal / peplum films released in Italy.

(The Italian title & its translation is followed by the altered U.S. release title if it was different)

The Samson 5 :

* Sansone/ Samson (1961) starring Brad Harris

* Sansone contro i pirati/ Samson Vs. The Pirates (aka Samson and the Sea Beast, 1963) starring Kirk Morris

* Ercole sfida Sansone/ Hercules Challenges Samson (aka Hercules, Samson and Ulysses 1963) starring Richard Lloyd as Samson

* Sansone contro il corsaro nero/ Samson Vs. the Black Pirate (aka Hercules and the Black Pirate, 1963) starring Alan Steel

* Ercole, Sansone, Maciste e Ursus gli invincibili/ Hercules, Samson, Maciste and Ursus: the Invincibles (aka Samson and the Mighty Challenge, 1965) starring Nadir Baltimore as Samson; a semi comedy/ satire of the peplum genre.

The Other Samson 6;

Samson was later ‘aliased’ into the American titles of 6 other Italian peplum movies when they were dubbed in English for distribution in the USA, these films actually featured the adventures of the famed Italian hero Maciste. "Samson Against the Sheik" (1962), "Son of Samson" (1960), "Samson and the Slave Queen" (1963), "Samson and the Seven Miracles of the World" (1961), "Samson Vs. The Giant King" (1964), and "Samson in King Solomon's Mines" (1964)

"Samson and the Treasure of the Incas" (aka Hercules and the Treasure of the Incas, 1965) is not peplum,the film is apparently set in South America during the time period of the Old West.

Next the Italian 'Goliath' movies of the 1960's..............

IV. THE ITALIAN URSUS MOVIES (1961-1964)


Ursus was a super-human who featured predominantly in Christian/Roman mythology, the character was adapted and used as the hero in a series of Italian adventure films made in the 1960's.

Ursus was referred to as a "Son of Hercules" in several of the films when they were dubbed in English , although in the original Italian versions, Ursus had no links to Hercules at all.

In the English-dubbed version of "Hercules, Prisoner of Evil", Ursus was actually referred to throughout the entire film as "Hercules".

Here are the ‘Ursus’ 9 ;

* Ursus (aka Mighty Ursus and Ursus, Son of Hercules) 1961 (starring Ed Fury)

* La vendetta di Ursus (The Revenge of Ursus) 1961 (starring Samson Burke)

* Ursus nella valle dei leoni (Ursus in the Valley of the Lions, aka Valley of the Lions) 1961 (starring Ed Fury)

* Ursus e la ragazza tartara (Ursus and the Tartar Girl, aka Ursus and the Tartar Princess, aka The Tartar Invasion) 1962 (starring Joe Robinson)

* Ursus nella terra di fuoco (Ursus in the Land of Fire, aka Son of Hercules in the Land of Fire) 1963 (starring Ed Fury)

* Ursus il gladiatore rebelle (Ursus, the Rebel Gladiator, aka The Rebel Gladiators) 1963 (starring Dan Vadis)

* Ursus il terrore dei kirghisi (Ursus, the Terror of the Kirghiz, aka Hercules, Prisoner of Evil) 1964 (starring Reg Park)

* Ercole, Sansone, Maciste e Ursus: gli invincibili (Hercules, Samson, Maciste and Ursus: The Invincibles, aka Samson and the Mighty Challenge, aka Combate dei gigantes) 1964 (this was a satire/ comedy poking fun at the sword-and-sandal genre, and starred Yan Larvor as Ursus)

* Gli invincibili tre (The Invincible Three, aka The Three Invincibles, aka Three Avengers) 1964 (Ursus was the lead hero in this film, played by Alan Steel.)


The Samson movies next.........................

III. THE ITALIAN MACISTE MOVIES FROM 1960-1965


In this section I have listed the Maciste films under their original Italian title and then their aliases, please use as a reference or checklist if you are or thinking of becoming a 'peplum' enthusiast.

* Maciste nella valle dei re/ Maciste in the Valley of the Kings (aka Son of Samson, 1960)

* Maciste nella terra dei ciclopi/ Maciste in the Land of the Cyclops (aka Atlas in the Land of the Cyclops, 1961)

* Maciste alla corte del gran khan/ Maciste at the Court of the Great Khan (aka Samson and the Seven Miracles of the World, 1961)

* Maciste contro il vampiro/ Maciste Vs. the Vampire (aka Goliath and the Vampires, 1961)

* Maciste, l'uomo più forte del mondo/ Maciste, the Strongest Man in the World (aka Mole Men Vs The Son of Hercules, 1962)

* Maciste contro Ercole nella valle dei guai/ Maciste Against Hercules in the Vale of Woe (aka Hercules in the Vale of Woe, 1962)

* Maciste contro i cacciatori di teste/ Maciste Vs. the Headhunters (aka Colossus and the Headhunters, 1962)

* Maciste all'inferno/ Maciste in Hell (aka The Witch's Curse, 1962)

* Il trionfo di Maciste/ The Triumph of Maciste (aka Triumph of the Son of Hercules, 1962)

* Maciste contro i mostri/ Maciste vs. the Monsters (aka Fire Monsters Against the Son of Hercules, 1962)

* Totò contro Maciste (Totò versus Maciste, 1962) this was a bad comedy/satire (part of the Italian "Toto" series) and it was never dubbed in English or shown in the USA

* Maciste, il gladiatore piu forte del mondo/ Maciste, the World's Strongest Gladiator (aka Colossus of the Arena, 1962)

* Maciste contro el sheik/ Maciste Vs. the Sheik (aka Samson Against the Sheik, 1962)

* Maciste, l'eroe piu grande del mondo/ Maciste, the World's Greatest Hero (aka Goliath and the Sins of Babylon, 1963)

* Zorro contro Maciste/ Zorro Vs. Maciste (aka Samson and the Slave Queen, 1963)

* Maciste e la regina de Samar/ Maciste and the Queen of Samar (aka Hercules Against the Moon Men, 1964

* Maciste nelle miniere de re salomone/ Maciste in King Solomon's Mines (aka Samson in King Solomon's Mines, 1964)

* Maciste alla corte dello zar/ Maciste at the Court of the Czar (aka Samson Vs. the Giant King, aka Atlas Against the Czar, 1964)

* Maciste, gladiatore di sparta/ Maciste, Gladiator of Sparta (aka Terror of Rome Against the Son of Hercules, 1964)

* Maciste contro i mongoli/ Maciste Vs. the Mongols (aka Hercules Against the Mongols, 1964)

* Maciste nell'inferno di gengis khan/ Maciste in Genghis Khan's Hell (aka Hercules Against the Barbarians, 1964)

* La valle dell'eco tonante/ Valley of the Thundering Echo (aka Hercules of the Desert, aka Maciste and the Women of the Valley, 1964)

* Ercole, Sansone, Maciste e Ursus: gli invincibili/ Hercules, Samson, Maciste and Ursus: The Invincibles (aka Samson and the Mighty Challenge, aka Combate dei Gigantes, aka Le Grand Defi, 1965) this was a comedy/ satire poking fun at the peplum genre

* Gli invicibili fratelli Maciste/ The Invincible Brothers Maciste (1965)

* Maciste il Vendicatore dei Mayas/ Maciste, Avenger of the Mayans (1965) (Note* This cheaply-made Maciste film was made up almost entirely of re-edited stock footage from 2 older Maciste films, "Maciste contro i mostri" and "Maciste contro i cacciatori di teste". It is extremely scarce since it was never distributed in the USA and was apparently never dubbed in English.)



NEXT THE URSUS MOVIES ........

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

II. THE ITALIAN HERCULES MOVIES 1957-1964

* Hercules (Le Fatiche di Ercole/ The Labors of Hercules, 1957) starring Steve Reeves

* Hercules Unchained (Ercole e la regina di Lidia/ Hercules and the Queen of Lydia, 1959) starring Steve Reeves

* Goliath and the Dragon (La Vendetta di Ercole/ The Revenge of Hercules, 1960) starring Mark Forest (this Hercules film was transformed into a "Goliath" movie before it was distributed in the USA odd as the Hercules ‘umbrella’ would’ve brought more dollars?)

* Hercules Vs The Hydra (Gli Amori di Ercole/ The Loves of Hercules, 1960) starring Mickey Hargitay & Jayne Mansfield

* Hercules and the Captive Women (Ercole alla conquista di Atlantide/ Hercules at the Conquest of Atlantis, aka Hercules and the Haunted Women) 1961, starring Reg Park

* Hercules in the Haunted World (Ercole al centro della terra/ Hercules at the Center of the Earth) 1961 (directed by Mario Bava) starring Reg Park

* Hercules in the Vale of Woe (Maciste contro Ercole nella valle dei guai/ Maciste Vs. Hercules in the Vale of Woe) 1961, starring Frank Gordon as Hercules (this was made as a semi-comedy/ satire on peplums)

* Ulysses Vs. The Son of Hercules (Ulisse contro Ercole/ Ulysses Vs. Hercules) 1962 starring Mike Lane as Hercules

* The Fury of Hercules (La Furia di Ercole/ The Fury of Hercules, aka The Fury of Samson) 1962, starring Brad Harris

* Hercules, Samson and Ulysses (Ercole sfida Sansone/ Hercules Challenges Samson) 1963, starring Kirk Morris as Hercules

* Hercules Vs. the Moloch (Ercole contro Molock/ Hercules Vs. Moloch, aka The Conquest of Mycene) 1963, starring Gordon Scott

* Son of Hercules in the Land of Darkness (Ercole l'invincibile/ Hercules, the Invincible) 1964, starring Dan Vadis (this was originally a Hercules film that was retitled into a "Son of Hercules" film so that it could be included in the "Sons of Hercules" TV syndication package)

* Hercules Vs. The Giant Warrior (il Trionfo di Ercole/ The Triumph of Hercules, aka Hercules and the Ten Avengers) 1964, starring Dan Vadis


* Hercules Against
Rome (Ercole contro Roma, 1964) starring Alan Steel

* Hercules Against the Sons of the Sun (Ercole contro i figli del sole, 1964)starring Mark Forest

* Hercules and the Tyrants of Babylon (Ercole contro i tiranni di Babilonia, 1964) starring Peter Lupus

* Samson and the Mighty Challenge (Ercole, Sansone, Maciste e Ursus: gli invincibili, aka Combate dei Gigantes) 1964, starring Alan Steel as Hercules (this was more of a comedy/ satire on peplums & featured Hercules prominently in the plot)

* Hercules and the Princess of Troy (no Italian title, aka "Hercules vs. the Sea Monster", 1965) starring Gordon Scott (this 48-minute Italian/U.S. co-production was made as a pilot for a Charles Band-produced TV series that never materialized)

* Hercules, the Avenger (Sfida dei giganti/Challenge of the Giants, 1965)starring Reg Park (this was a cheaply made-for-TV quickie that consisted mostly of re-edited stock footage from 2 earlier Hercules films, “Hercules and the Captive Women” and “Hercules in the Haunted World”.)

Some of the other Hercules adventures were not Hercules movies in their native Italy and were marketed to cash in on the initials success mainly in the United States were;

* "Hercules, Prisoner of Evil" was actually a retitled Ursus film.

* "Hercules and the Black Pirate" and "Hercules and the Treasure of the Incas" were both retitled Samson movies (the second film not even being a sword and sandal/peplum movie).

* "Hercules and the Masked Rider" was actually a retitled Goliath movie.

* "Hercules Against the Moon Men", "Hercules Against the Barbarians", "Hercules Against the Mongols" and "Hercules of the Desert" were all originally Maciste films.

None of these were connected to Hercules in anyway when seen in their original Italian Language, the same was also for the ‘Sons of Hercules’ movies which were syndicated films on television deemed too inferior for the large screen.

These were known under totally different titles and although can be heard referred to under their original myth hero title were still ‘marketable’ under ‘The Sons of Hercules’ banner.

Due to the scarceity of the originals I have no comparison with their ‘re-packings’ but if I know as much about distribution and how it works as I do, I bet some of these were/are cut to pieces and re-filmed credit wise.

I. HERCULES AND THE REALM OF COLOUR 1958-1964



There seems to be a minor gap in between Macistes’ early outings and his rebirth in glorious cinemascope.

Apparently from sources I have noted, in between Ercole/Macistes’ arrival in colour ‘Maciste all ‘Inferno’ did resurface and played in theatres with a different score. This seemed to spark the public’s admiration of peplum once again.

Already by 1953 the Italians’ made a version of Spartacus, Spartaco directed by Riccardo Freda, this generated admiration and bubbled up ideas for further ventures whether based on Christian mythology or otherwise.

As in the days of the silent era the Italians re-valued their trailblazing heritage and looked back for inspiration.


Over in the
United States there had also been a ‘boom’ of beefcake ‘musclemen’ magazines achieving a small culture phenomenon. The magazine was a first in the vein of ‘Men’s’ Fitness’ we have in society today, but less ‘artificial’.


This provided aspiration to become the pin-up and admiration of the physique by some young men, and a masturbatory aid to the other proportion the ‘beefcake’ market was aiming at clandestinely.

This was another patron factor as too why the peplum became so prodigious overseas.

Such representations of practically ‘demi-god’ physiques, slotted in nicely with the sword and sandal backdrops.


Each separate peplum adventure when born was predominantly based on one central character from mythology. Very often the lead would stay the same but a new ‘muscleman’ would take over the guise and in a way kept a ‘freshness’ despite the consolidated format and eventual worn-out formula.


Each actor, no matter how wooden, seem to give their all, this ‘stamped’ their ‘identity’ over the strongman hero. They make it theirs and on occasion, and in certain films this truly bursts through.

In 1958
Italy cinematically ventured into territory it had been to before and brought forth ‘ La Fatiche di Ercole’. The film was loosely based on ‘The Argonautica’ the ancient poem by Apollonium of Rhodes. The mythology is very contradictory to the literal indeed but in a way creates an admirable hybrid that doesn’t scant on the thrills or the spectacle.

Steeve Reeves was cast as the titular ‘Ercole’ character where physically, aesthetically and charismatically he footed the bill nicely. Reeves was said to have been cast on the directors daughters recommendation after being aware of his pin up status and popularity already Stateside.

La Fatiche di Ercole was a pre-eminent success and brought in plenty of Lira but it wasn’t only Europe that was beginning to benefit from this treasure trove of ancient revivalism.

An American producer Joseph Levine also was enamoured by what he saw and immediately acquired the rights to ‘La Fatiche di Ercole’. Unfortunately the name ‘Ercole’ wasn’t marketable so therefore Ercole (another pseudonym for Maciste - they are generally one and the same) became ‘Hercules’ – the demi-god, half son of Zeus.



What Levine done next was too saturate the distribution circuit with ‘Hercules’ prints that were flogged to numerous amounts of picture houses in America. He also then went mad with promotion and marketing and watched as the dollars rolled in. Hercules was a stateside smash.


Directed by Pietro Francisci and heavily influenced visually by that alchemist of colour Mario Bava it was no wonder the adventure dropped jaws and became the new big screen onslaught of peplum / sword and sandal epics. That may not have had the huge capital of the yanks with their spectacular interpretations of Christian mythology i.e. ‘The Ten Commandments’ but what they did have was ingenuity in creating the epic on very small scale. More than often they succeed.


As ‘Hercules’ whipped a froth at the box office so ‘Ercole e la
Regina di Lidia’ (1959) pulled in similar Lira and crowds, this was a virtual sequel to the original continuing the adventures of Hercules, Ulysses and Hercules’ wife Iole.


Eventually Steve Reeves gave way to Mickey Hargitay who gave way to
Reg Park etc,etc and so the legend continued for 6 years with over 150 films of this kind being made for the adventure thirsty audiences. Some contained monsters, some contained fantasy, some were dramas, some were boring but overall wonderfully entertaining.

Despite the challenges Hercules always won through despite his strength being an equal curse and blessing as it does have a tendency at times to fly right off the handle without using his brain. Nothing changes really as you see people like that today though much uglier and pathetic than Hercules could ever be or ever was.

As well as Hercules we were introduced to other ‘lead’ heroes, Goliath, Ursus, Perseus and even Romulus and Remus all had guest appearances on the big screen. It was also ‘periods’ in mythology/Greco-roman history that fascinated directors too so other mythological epics were brought to life with the advent of the big screen and spectacular (if not inexpensive) effects.

A batch of varied mythological based films considered unappropriate for cinema release were eventually selected and screened on American Television. The films were re-titled under their new ‘Sons of Hercules’ banner, Ursus, Perseus and Goliath movies only available to European audiences were given a whole new lease of life using a new, then anyway, form of media.

These also had a catchy little theme tune that must have kids racing in from the garden or from slumber to view these tales of ancient chivalry in their Saturday Morning slots.

In 1964 peplum bowed out and had really exhausted itself.

The movies still played drive-ins and thrilled crowds to approximately the mid 1970’s in the states and gained a cult following.

Its’ momentum can still be seen echoing in modern times with films like ‘Gladiator’, ‘Alexander’ and ‘Troy’ springing to mind. These also are predominantly sword and sandal epics that manage to pamper to the machismo in most men and awe all genders with their technological accomplishments.

With the advent of DVD we can now have the chance of viewing this little ‘thrills’ once again, however poor England has failed abysmally and have shamefully come up with nothing for the U.K Region 2 distribution.


What a crying shame. There are those who think Jason and the Argonauts was the only cinematic one of its’’ kind - that is a tragedy Greek or not.


The other outlet is
Europe where, according to many recommended sources the best DVD print versions are available. Unfortunately a vast majority in Europe only exist in their original Italian Language with either French or German subs, or overall dub.


America has a decent choice of peplum (though not as many as I thought – legally) and at times it really is playing Russian roulette with the choice of print you get, It does look as though the higher the price the better; in most cases.


Another obstacle is the different titles these have been marketed under making the possibility of getting the same movie twice remote but probable.


Throughout the reviews that follow I will try and feature a link to ‘best source print’ that I can recommend.

On occasion it has been a put up with or pay out scenario but thanks to companies that give a toss such as Kino, Something Weird Video and Fantomas DVD have released some beautiful representations of how this genre should be seen.

I also feel it is an outrage that these haven’t been networked more often, I would, for a change, rather be treated to sword, sandals and slayings on a Sunday teatime then ‘Cor look at that crumpet!’ current trend of ‘sitcom movie’ ‘fillers’ for a Sunday after the pub.


This sort of comedy is hilarious in my opinion and is not in dispute here, but one is getting to say the lines before the actors now, so I feel some change should happen. Oh another thing popular is the constant schedule clog of ‘elderly approved’ black and white dross which also could rest for an age.

I appreciate the 'carry on' type of films are an integral representation of British comedy but I feel are relied on too heavily to fill in Sunday teatime scheduling gaps. When you consider what has not been shown that is available, especially peplum, you question why? Why are these not gracing Brish T.V screens and U.K Region 2 DVD releases.

Surely these ‘peplum’ movies shouldn’t be that expensive to procure? It could appeal to all ages, being a thrill for children and the mature alike. It beggars belief why there have been know examples of such a ‘family’ friendly slot.

I doubt whether someone will have the sense to clean up these little gems and release them in all their lurid splendour. So big shame on you all! Channel 4?

In this first ‘checklist’ I have covered as many Hercules films as possible and will also aim to include their various pseudonyms. This will help the potential collector/enthusiast and make the uninitiated wonder why these haven’t been available to them previously.

What I have done is ‘compartmented’ each mythological entry in it’s’ sub-genre.

I have done this as I feel this will assist in the collectors’ hunt for such titles and too highlight to the non-collector what vast amounts (not all – some are boring crap) of decent entertainment they have been deprived of. European entertainment has yet again been overridden by the absolute bollocks imported from the dominant states.

We can only but hope that one day these will surface to thrill family audiences once again.


Next we will list the Italian Hercules films. I will provide 'reputable' links when it comes to review so get the credit cards handy and override any 'fear' of fraud, unless the site is 'dubious' you will be perfectly safe if overseas ordering is needed. Don't forget to mark the DVD's as a 'gift' this way it avoids customs charges.

Until next time may Venus cast her blessings on you all.