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PEPLUM

HEROIC FANTASY

PONTIUS PILATE (1962)

-Letterboxed print. Uncut version with extra scenes subtitled in English. I finally scored an English language copy of this interesting Italian sword-and-sandal style depiction of the life and times of Jesus, focusing on the career of Pontius Pilate, played by legendary French actor Jean Marais (Cocteau's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST). I previously had a Spanish language version, but the dubbing sounded like it was recorded in a radio station last week and there were virtually no sound effects. This original English version is MUCH more enjoyable, with both Basil Rathbone and John Drew Barrymore (as Judas, not as Jesus) doing their own voices in the dubbing. The story is structured with a wrap-around sequence where Pilate is on trial in front of Caesar, and Pilate recounts the events of his life.

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CAPTAIN BLOOD (1960)

-In French with English subtitles, letterboxed print. Good swashbuckler set in France by the time King Louis XIII was just a teenager. It seems that nobody wants to see him sitting on the throne, including his lovely mother. But there is a loyal nobleman who will fight bravely to put things in order. Legendary French actor Jean Marais is a bit too old to play the hero but he tries hard and really does a good job. As the comic relief, comedian Bourvil plays the street artist who helps Marais in his mission. Fencing and action sequences don't look as great as in Errol Flynn's classics but the old castles are real and "Le Capitan" provides a good fun for its audience. By the way, English title "Captain Blood" makes no sense; this captain has no relation neither to 1935 Hollywood classic nor to Rafael Sabatini's novel (this one is based on Michel Zévaco's histories).

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CONQUEROR OF ATLANTIS (1965)

-Letterboxed print. Kirk Morris and Helene Chanel star. This movie is an undiscovered gem,a sword and sandal adventure that came late in the genre but stands out as one of the very best.Kirk Morris,a great and undervalued peplum star plays Heracles who is washed ashore in Egypt and becomes involved in an adventure with some desert nomads which leads him to a mysterious kingdom in the sand that turns out to be Atlantis.Here things take a surreal turn as Herc battles a mad sorcerer,ray-guns and an army of blue-clad robotic warriors in a crescendo of action.Much of this movie's running time is taken up with Herc slugging it out with these warriors in some entertaining fistfights until his nomad friends arrive and enter the fray using evil looking metal balls connected to chains.I really wish that I had seen this movie as a kid because it would certainly have added spice to my cinematic upbringing which was laced with movies of this type.A footnote:THE CONQUEROR OF ATLANTIS resembles "Atlantis",the closing episode of the third season of "Hercules:The Legendary Journeys" and may perhaps have been an influence.

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SCHEHERAZADE (1963)

-In French with English subs, letterboxed print. The movie is the classic Arabian Nights story, done in a very European way, with battles, sword fights, scantily clad women dancing and even... a few bare boobs. (1963, yes, but you know how we French are.)  Our hero is played by swashbuckling legend Gérard Barray and, more surprisingly, beautiful Sheherazade is Nouvelle Vague diva Anna Karina.

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7 REBEL GLADIATORS (1965)

-In Italian with eng subs, letterboxed. Stars Roger Browne and Liz Havilland. The ruthless Roman tribune, Vadio, joins forces with the evil Morakeb to take over the throne of Aristea, usurping King Krontal and stealing away his lovely daughter in the process. Meanwhile, Marco Aulo, now a Roman centurion, comes to Aristea to learn where his legions war funds have gone. Vadio has him framed for treason and is thrown into the arena to fight a group of six formidable gladiators. During the fights, Marco refuses to kill those he defeats until finally, he himself loses after exhaustion takes its toll. Admiring this man, the six warriors join him and together they escape Vadio's clutches and plot to free the kingdom from the two conspiring killers.

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THE BLACK ARCHER (1959)

-Letterboxed print. Director: Pierio Pierotti. Cast: Gérard Landry, Federica Ranchi, Livio Lorenzon. Excellent print (NOT the crappy Something Weird one) about a Zorro like Archer protecting the oppressed. Stars Gerard Landry, Livio Lorenzon, and Federica ranchi.

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HERCULES REVENGE (1960)

-In Italian with eng subs, letterboxed and original version (AIP butchered in the US as GOLIATH AND THE DRAGON). The movie  is a delirious muscleman fantasy from start to finish. A bearded Mark Forest shows off the biggest pecs and widest lats of his generation, and melts everyone with his smile (except scar-faced Broderick Crawford as the cranky villain). The costumes are beautiful, the sets are extravagant, the exterior landscapes are a lush paradise, the monsters are huge puppets, and just when you think the story can't become more bizarre...it does. Cottafavi will try just about anything to dazzle and disorient the viewer. In one scene, as our hero approaches, looms above, and then passes over the camera, the point of view turns completely upside-down; the effect is so audacious I had to laugh out loud! This is fearless (and yes, perhaps sometimes mindless) film-making, and the result is truly dreamlike, if not downright mythic.

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KNIGHT OF A 1000 FACES (1960)

-Letterboxed print.Lex Barker stars. Riccado d'Arce, a righteous knight, is the secret friend of Ciro, duke Di Pallanzo's son and the secret fiancé of his beautiful sister Bianca. On the other hand a faithless knight, count Fosco Di Villabruna, covets both the duchy and Bianca, and soon becomes Riccardo's sworn enemy. Fosco has Ciro murdered and Riccardo accused of the crime but ... he laughs longest who laughs last!

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QUEEN OF THE TARTARS (1960)

-Letterboxed print. Chelo Alonso stars! A beautiful warrior queen battles it out with her rivals in this adventure fantasy set in the 1400s. As a child, the Hun girl is orphaned when an enemy tribe attack and raze her village. She is raised by the enemy tribe's leader and learns the ways of the warrior.

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REVOLT OF THE 7 (1964)

-Letterboxed and uncut. Director: Alberto de Martino. Cast: Tony Russel, Massimo Serato, Livio Lorenzon, Pierro Lulli, Helga Liné. This is probably the fastest paced of the peplum adventures with lavish sets, humor and unremitting action. The story gets kind of lost in it all, and it's hard to keep track of just why everyone is violently seeking the Athena statuette, but who cares! Tony Russel and his escaped gladiator pals have their hands more than full trying to outwit the conspirators and take many a beating before they finally triumph.

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TIGER  OF THE 7 SEAS (1962)

-Letterboxed print. Tigre is the skipper of the Santa Maria, a pirate-ship, but he feels tired and decides to leave the command of the ship. Unfortunately he has only a daughter, Consuelo. So he will leave the command and the ship to the winner of a challenge among his men. Unexpectedly Consuelo wins. The same night Tigre is killed, William is charged with the killing and is sentenced to death. But before the sentence could be executed the Spaniards of Grand Duke Inigo arrives. Consuelo escapes, however this is only the first move of Indigo's wife to get to the pirates treasure. Gianna Maria Canale, Anthony Steel and Maria Grazia Spina star. Beautiful print!

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DIE NIBELUNGEN PART ONE (1966)

-In German with english subs, letterboxed print. Director Harald Reinl takes this epic sword-and-sorcery fantasy from the 12th-century Teutonic legend. One of the greatest legends and myths in the history of Germany has been the story of Siegfried the Warrior and the Nibelungen (or Nibelungs), a royal family maintaining a wealth of cursed magic gold. Actors:Maria Marlow, Rolf Henniger, Siegfried Wischnewski, Fred Williams, Hans von Borsody, Uwe Beyer, Terence Hill, Samson Burke, Karin Dor.

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DIE NIBELUNGEN PART 2 (1967)

-IN GERMAN WITH ENG SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. Directed by Harald Reinl.  Stars Karin Dor, Terence Hill, and Herbert Lom. Now Brunhild knows by which treason she was won for king Gunther of Burgund by Siegfried of Xanthen, and has been revenged by his foul murder by Hagen, more bloody revenge is inevitable.

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LAST TREASURE OF THE AZTECS (1964)

-LETTERBOXED PRINT. Director: Piero Pierotti. Cast: Alan Steel (Cergio Ciani), Mario Petri, Wolfgang Lukschy, Brigitte Heiberg. It’s known as both Lost Treasure of the Incas and Lost Treasure of the Aztecs in the US. But hey, everybody knows the Incas lived in Peru and the Aztecs in Mexico, so with cowboys and western towns thrown into the mix, Aztecs would be slightly more plausible, geographically speaking. Alan Fox is being taken to Silver City to be tried for the murder of old Nixon, Janet's father. On the way the coach is attacked by a group of bandits headed by the real murderer: Jerry Damon. During the fight, Alan and a young Indian manage to escape. Samson, an old friend of Alan's, is convinced Alan has been killed and swears to revenge his death. Damon makes another attempt on Alan's life before heading off to the Palladi mountains in search of the golden treasure of the Incas.

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THE MAGNIFICENT ADVENTURER (1963)

-LETTERBOXED PRINT. Director: Riccardo Freda, Cast: Brett Halsey, Françoise Fabian, Claudia Mori. This historical war drama follows the command of 16th-century artist Benvenuto Cellini as he and his troops defend Rome against the attack of Charles V and his armies. An above-average "Euro-Cult" epic which also passes for a serviceable biopic of celebrated Renaissance-era artist Benvenuto Cellini (played by American Brett Halsey in one of his better showcases). Like THE BARBARIANS (1953), this film depicts the sacking of Rome and, in fact, here we are shown how he is asked by the Pope himself (Bernard Blier) – countering a fraud charge into the bargain – to lead the resistance! Of course, he also comes off as an unrepentant ladies' man – with jilted suitors being even ready to die for him – and whose charm affects tavern wenches (represented by spirited Claudia Mori aka Mrs. Adriano Celentano) and noblewomen (like Francoise Fabian, rather staid but undeniably lovely) equally. The latter is the neglected (and, typically, much younger) wife of a dullard engulfed in researching his eminent heredity…which our hero purports to take an earnest interest in so as to get at the lady(!), though he eventually ends up with the more down-to-earth of the two mentioned females. The narrative actually begins in his native city of Florence – where Cellini wins a prize judged and distributed during an audience before the king (while taking his first-ever bath!) for a gold-laden model. However, rivals accuse him of cheating in this case as well and this leads first to a brawl and eventually the destruction-by-fire of the sculptor's studio (and with it a large statue of Perseus triumphing over the Medusa he had intended dedicating to the Italian royal)!

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DESERT RAIDERS (1964)

-In Italian with english subs, beautiful letterboxed print! An excellent female cast in this rare Italian Peplum! Director: Tanio Boccia, Cast: Kirk Morris, Rosalba Neri, Hélène Chanel, Paul Muller. In North Africa the tyrant Yussuff makes a retaliation attack on a village and kidnaps Fatima with whom he falls in love. But the woman refuses him and takes a fancy to the young and beautiful Nadir (Morris) who tries to challenge the rival.

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KERIM, SON OF THE SHEIK (1962)

-Beautiful letterboxed print. Gordon Scott, Liana Orfei and Gordon Mitchell star. Ok, here we go again with another great sword and sandal escapade called Kerim, Son of the Sheik.  This one features strongman Gordon Scott starring as Kerim the son of an older sheik belonging to one of the desert tribes.  He's out to seek revenge for the death of his sister at the hands of the local bully boy Emir Omar.   At first he starts off by doing small hit and run ambushes on the Emirs soldiers to annoy the hell out of him, but it soon snowballs into a full blown revolution of the peoples.  This is a very entertaining sword and sandal film with plenty of action and lots of sand.  It's obvious that the producers had a decent budget when making this film, and it shows.  It looks and feels authentic all the time with a decent directing job by director Mario Costa.  An adventure film with a middle eastern setting.   A sort of arabian adventure without the silliness of flying carpets or magic lamps, a real oasis of fun and exotic locations.

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 Isabella Duchess of the devil (1969)

-Rare letterboxed print!  An Alsacian Baron massacres the family of a French Duke, and takes his lands, and his title. Isabella, the Duke's baby child, escapes the massacre, is raised by gypsies, and comes back twenty years later to exact revenge. This is an adaptation of a "fumetti", which were basically adult, (usually erotic) comic books popular in Europe in the 1960's and 70's. Brigitte Skay stars (and is nude and tortured a lot!) in this outstanding adaptation of the Italian adult comic. Directed by Bruno Corbucci. This is an excellent translation to the big screen of the very first Italian erotic comic book, dated 1966, by Sandro Angiolini, narrating the adventures of the young and beautiful Isabella and her path of vengeance against the evil Baron who killed her parents a few years before. The movie is a very good mix of the elements that made the success for this kind of adult comics books, part eroticism - often with sadistic overtones - part fighting, part torture, part laughs. The movie is a good rendition of the comic books feeling, with several nude and erotic scenes.

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ROME AGAINST ROME (1964)

-Letterboxed print. Director: Giuseppe Vari, Starring: John Drew Barrymore, Susy Andersen, Ettore Manni, Ida Galli, Mino Doro & Ivano Staccioli. The story (English dub) goes thus: In a deliberately non-defined pseudo-historical setting in the Roman Empire, the Sarmatians attack and defeat a Roman legion, stealing the gold they had with them. Since Rome doesn't hear of the legate in the region, it sends a consul (Ettore Manni, the hero) to inquire. He soon finds out that the Sarmatians are manipulated by an evil magician (his name Adherbad is similar to a North-African one, Adherbal...) and priest of the 'daughter of Osiris', a three-eyed goddess which seems to demand human sacrifice. The Roman legate happens to be a traitor, and so is his wife Tullia (Susy Anderson). The consul catches her interest, but he falls in love with her slave (Ida Galli), who happens to be a priestess of the goddess...Apart from some competent and well-paced story-telling which involves some handsome spooky stuff such as a deadly (voodoo) doll, walking virgins on charcoals and a group of disgusting leprous henchmen at the bad guy's disposal (including an old hag) - they nearly rape Galli's character at one point -, we also get a dark and energetic score by Roberto Nicolosi and some fine make-up and lighting. There are only a handful of sets at the director's disposal, and only a couple of outside shots (much of the movie plays in a cave, and there is no Russian or Ukrainian scenery, to be sure), but Vari and his cinematographers use them with a great sense for variety.

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CONQUEROR OF CORINTH (1962)

-Letterboxed print. John Drew Barrymore and Jacques Sernas stars. A movie that appreciates the importance of glamorizing middle-aged guys' muscles as well as having tied up blonde chicks menaced by snakes, Conqueror of Corinth rewrites history in a way that allows you to enjoy the destruction of a society and its people.  Sure, in real life Rome outnumbered the Corinthians and there was no mention of a spurned lover being chucked into a hole full of serpents by a general taking a lunch break from fighting the Roman Empire in his own front yard, but there's a reason why history is written by the winners. And this movie with its whip-wielding blondes, snakes, and muscles is precisely that reason.

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QUEEN OF THE NILE (1961)

-Beautiful widescreen print. Thutmose (Edmund Purdom), a sculptor, is in love with Tenet (Jeanne Crain). He is also a dear friend of Amenophis (Amedeo Nazzari). It all changes one night when the worshiper of a new God Aten, a prophet and priest Seper (Carlo D'Angelo) foresees the death of the Pharaoh and the coming reign of Amenophis. The prophecy comes true. The father of Tenet, Amon Ra priest Benakon (Vincent Price), plans a marriage of his daughter with the new Pharaoh...

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7 SLAVES AGAINST THE WORLD (1964)

-IN ITALIAN WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. The tribune Marcus Aulus (Roger Browne) arrives in a distant province to oversee the building of an aqueduct, where he clashes with the centurion Gaius (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart) over his brutal treatment of slaves. Gaius provokes them to a bloody revolt, then falsely accuses Marco of inciting it. The escaped slave Balisten (Gordon Mitchell), grateful to Marcus for an earlier mercy, joins up with other slaves to exonerate Marcus and expose Gaius’ treachery. Directed by Michele Lupo and co-starring Scilla gabel and German Longo.

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THE REVENGE OF SPARTACUS (1964)

-IN ITALIAN WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. Features the same cast as the earlier mentioned 7 SLAVES AGAINST THE WORLD. Roman political schemers remove the crucified body of Spartacus from his cross and spread word to his followers that he is alive and organizing another revolt. By this method, they believe the remainder of Spartacus' army can be exposed and destroyed. Valerius, a legionary with a grudge against Rome, discovers the plot and tries to dissuade those who believe the false news. Valerius and his followers lay a trap for the Romans which leads to an epic battle between them.

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