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PEPLUM

HEROIC FANTASY

SAMSON VS THE PIRATES (1963)

-Beautiful widescreen print. Director: Tanio Boccia, Cast: Kirk Morris, Margaret Lee,  and Adriana Ambesi. A terrible pirate ruler terrorizes the Antilles plundering ships, slaughtering their crews and selling women as slaves.  One of the women manages to escape from her captors and gets shipwrecked on an island where Samson lives.  She falls in love our mighty hero and then asks Samsom for help in freeing the rest of the slaves, among them is her sister.  Samson doesn't need too much convincing and takes on the job with the help of a handful of renegades.

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TRIUMPH OF HERCULES (1964)

-Letterboxed print. Dan Vadis , Moira Orfei, and Marilu Tolo star. The people of Mycenae are suffering under the yoke of the despot Milo. They call upon Hercules, the son of Zeus, to come to their aid. Milo realizes the danger and consults his sorceress mother Pasiphaë, who gives him the power to summon an army of bronze robots. Under Pasiphaë's spell, Hercules slays his friend Eurystheus. As punishment for this crime, Zeus removes Hercules' superhuman strength, leaving him helpless against Milo's deadly schemes.

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MARCO THE MAGNIFICENT (1965)

-Letterboxed print. Cast:  Horst Buchholz, Anthony Quinn, Michael Sarrazin, Omar Sharif, Orson Welles, Robert Hossein, Akim Tamiroff. The first journey of Venetian explorer Marco Polo to the east. The storyline is fairly close to the real story of Marco's adventure, which began from Venice in 1271 and passed across land from Egypt through the Middle East and over the Himalayas to get to the empire of Kublai Khan.The film is fast moving and full of action sequences and picture postcard scenery where Marco gets repeatedly separated from his father and uncle, running the gauntlet of a good clutch of big stars in roles for which, rather unfortunately in some cases, they aren't particularly remembered. First of all, there's a brief appearance by Orson Welles as Marco's Jewish tutor Ackerman. Then, Omar Sharif crops up as Ala Hou, the desert sheikh who rescues Marco from captivity at the hands of Akim Tamiroff as the golden masked Old Man of the Mountain.

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PIRATE'S CAPTIVE (1959)

- Directed by-  Piero Pierotti, Stars - Lex Barker, Chelo Alonso, Massimo Serato. Fun Italian adventure film about a nobleman who is captured by slave trading pirates who must find a way to rescue a boat load of beautiful slave girls who will be sold at auction when they reach port. Lex Barker, playing the bad guy for a change, stars as evil pirate Drakut and Massimo Serato as the artist nobleman good guy. Super sexy Chelo Alonso plays Barkers mistress and partner in the slave trading business.

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HERCULES THE INVINCIBLE (1965)

-Letterboxed and uncut print! Director: Alvaro Mancori, Cast: Dan Vadis, Ken Clarke and  Spela Rozin. Argolese saves Telca, daughter of King Tedaeo, from a marauding lion. In gratitude the King offers Telca's hand in marriage to Argolese but only if the strongman can slay a dragon which has been laying waste to part of his kingdom. Argolese kills the monster but when he returns he finds that Tedaeo has been overthrown and imprisoned, along with Telca, by a warlike people known as "the Demulus" who rule from a city inside a mountain. Argolese infiltrates this city but is captured and sentenced by Queen Ella to be pulled apart by elephants. Argolese survives this ordeal and Ella suggests an alliance between them. Argolese remains true to Telca but then Ella is killed by the jealous Melissia who becomes the new queen of the Demulus. With the aid of a diminutive ally named Barbar, Argolese frees the followers of King Tedaeo and then releases a lava flow into the city. Both King Tedaeo and the usurper Queen Melissia die in the turmoil but Argolese...

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COLD STEEL FOR TORTUGA (1965)

-Beautiful widescreen print! Director: Luigi Capuano, Cast: Guy Madison and Ingeborg Schöner. This time around, Capuano directs a swashbuckler/adventure/piracy film loosely drawn on characters recalled from stories by Emilio Salgari, and stars Rik Battaglia as Pedro Valverde, a handsome pirate who's discovered a less risky buccaneering way to bring in the money. By impersonating a Spanish duke, he becomes engaged to the richest girls in the Caribbean and, at the time of the weddings, vanishes and steals the dowry. All is going well until he meets and becomes infatuated with Soledad Quintero, a beautiful Spanish girl who comes to Santa Cruz to inherit a fabulous legacy left by her grandfather. To his misfortune, Soledad also interests Alfonso di Montélimar (Guy Madison), the governor of the island. Jealousy and envy ensue as they both connive to attain the love and affection of Soledad, and only one will have her..

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PERSEUS THE INVINCIBLE (1963)

-In Italian with english subs, letterboxed print. Directed by Alberto de Martino and starring Richard Harrison, Anna Ranalli, Arturo Dominici, and Elisa Cegani. A warrior does battle against the evil Medusa, her army of stone warriors and a monstrous dragon. The most remarkable thing about MEDUSA AGAINST THE SON OF HERCULES is the Medusa itself. The Medusa in this film is a tentacled monster instead of a woman with vipers for hair. When I saw it for the first time my jaw was on the floor. It's by far the coolest thing I've ever seen in a movie. A truly one of a kind creation. The Medusa, totally in black, looks like an evil tree and moves around with spidery roots and has a uber thick nest of tentacles for hair, and it freezes men into statues of stone with its single huge glowing white eye. We see it walk around in a misty landscape which is strewn with marbled soldiers.

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REVENGE OF IVANHOE (1965)

-Letterboxed print. Rick Van Nutter, Gilda lousek and Furia Meniconi star. William of Ivanhoe returns from the Crusades to free the Saxons from bondage in twelfth-century England. He claims the hand of a beautiful maiden and rescues her from danger. Directed by Tanio Boccia (aka Amerigo Anton).

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THIEF OF DAMASCUS (1964)

-In Italian with english subs, letterboxed print. Lighthearted peplum set during the Roman occupation of Syria, starring Tony Russel (The Secret Seven, The Wild, Wild Planet). In Damascus under the Roman occupation, Jesen and Tisba are pickpockets who get into innumerable exploits. They are not only thieves but accomplices to Syrian freedom fighters hiding in nearby caves. They clash with Mannae, an ambitious man who profits from his alliance with the Romans, eliminating his enemies one by one. Jesen is captured after a battle with the Roman legions and is condemned to death. Just at the moment before his execution, the most improbable thing happens... Written and Directed by Mario Amendola and also starring Luciana Gilly.

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THE MASKED AVENGER (1964)

-Beautiful widescreen print (chunk that shitty something weird version!). Director: Pino Mercanti, Cast: Guy Madison, Lisa Gastoni. Massimo returns to Renaissance Venice after years of fighting the Turks to learn that Elena, his former sweetheart, is now married to the city's tyrannical Doge. He avoids resuming this romance, despite Elena's apparent interest, because he is now falling in love with the beautiful, blonde Katarina. He also avoids becoming involved in a plot to overthrow the Doge, but after a friend is tortured and killed by the Doge's men, Massimo feels compelled to join the spreading revolt. The plot moves at an efficient pace and is livened by such things as an archery contest, a falcon hunt, several swordfights, a collapsing bridge, and a dungeon-interrogation scene in which a bare-chested man is whipped, burned with a hot iron, and finally garroted.

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HERCULES THE AVENGER (1965)

-Beautiful widescreen print. Hercules' son gets severely wounded during a lion hunt that goes awry. Hercules (a solid and engaging performance by the beefy Reg Park) has to venture into an eerie and dangerous alternate dimension ruled by the evil and vengeful Gia the Earth Goddess (a deliciously wicked portrayal by Gia Sandri) and battle various monsters in order to save his son's soul. Meanwhile, Gia's equally nasty son Antaius (a perfectly hateful turn by Giovanni Cianfriglia) poses as Hercules and takes over an entire city as a cruel and ruthless tyrant. Director Maurizo Lucidi relates the engrossing story at a steady pace and maintains a serious tone throughout. This film begins a little slow, but really starts cooking once Hercules enters the misty and perilous subterranean spirit world: Rousing highlights include Hercules grappling with a humanoid lizard beast, Hercules climbing a giant gnarled tree, and Hercules being attacked by a bunch of creepy rotting zombies. Better still, the bizarre spirit world just reeks of spooky atmosphere (gotta love that persistent thick swirling fog!). The strenuous rough'n'tumble mano-a-mano major physical confrontation between Hercules and Antaius likewise totally rocks.

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SANDOKAN AGAINST THE LEOPARD OF SARAWAK (1964)

-Letterboxed print.  Released here in a cut version under the title THRONE OF VENGEANCE, this is the uncut 84 minute print! Samoa is kidnapped and held captive hypnotized in caves by her cousin Charles Druk, whose father has been murdered by her future husband Sandokan, lord of Malaya. Assisted by his European friend Iannis, he wants to rescue her. Starring Ray Danton and Guy Madison, directed by Leopoldo Savona.

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THE MARK OF ZORRO (1975)

-LETTERBOXED PRINT. Director: Franco Lo Cascio, Stars:George Hilton, Lionel Stander, Charo López, Rodolfo Licari, Antonio Pica. The mysterious Zorro intervenes to prevent the marriage between Carmen and Marcel, but in carrying out his usual acrobatics and during his retreat, he falls on his ass and is put out of commission. The local priest Padre Donato (Lionel Stander)is desperate to find somebody to take Zorro's place and defend the local populace against the cruel French governor. The priest forces a young man named Felipe (George Hilton) to serve as a temporary Zorro, but Felipe turns out to be a disastrous swordsman, at least until he consumes a glass or two of wine. Once under the influence of alcohol, the poor substitute is transformed into a brilliant duelist who is more than a match for the evil French governor.

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QUEEN OF THE PIRATES (1961)

-LETTERBOXED PRINT. Director: Mario Costa, Cast: Gianna Maria Canale, Massimo Serato, Livio Lorenzon, Moira Orfei. In 16th century Italy, on the Adriatic coast, the duchy of Doruzza is governed by a despotic duke, Zulian, and his haughty daughter, Isabella. When they try to commit a gross injutice against one of their subjects, the naval officer Mirko and his daughter Barbara get in their way, and end up persecuted and arrested.

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VULCAN SON OF JUPITER (1962)

-LETTERBOXED PRINT. Director: Emimmo Salvi, Cast: Bella Cortez, Iloosh Khoshabe, Roger Browne, Gordon Mitchell, Furio Meniconi. Tired of the sexual escapades on earth by his daughter Venus, Jupiter, the god of Lightning, decides he shall marry her soon to one of the candidates: Maciste, a mortal working in Vulcano's cave, and Mars, the god of War. But Mars abducts Venus, allied with Pluto and Eris, and works out a plan involving a bamboo tower high enough for the soldiers of the Thracian King to attack Jupiter in the high Olympus. The gods' contend will be resolved in human fashion on Earth, where even gods are mortal. This one hell of a twisted, crazy, mental peplum film.

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THE CORSAIRS (1971)

-LETTERBOXED PRINT. Directed by Ferdinando Baldi and starring Dean Reed, Anabella Incontrera and Alberto De Mendoza. The American singer and actor Dean Reed stars in this adventure flick surrounded by charming Italian and Spanish actors."Los Corsarios" is certainly not a masterpiece but it offers some funny moments and characters though. The action scenes are decent and there are a lots of comic scenes which keep the spectator's interest till the end. The story is undoubtedly neither clever nor convoluted: Isabella, the beautiful daughter of the viceroy of a Caribbean island is in danger after the death of her father. Her evil cousin wants the throne for himself and is determined to get rid of her. Luckily, a bunch of pirates, led by the handsome adventurer Alan Drake shipwreck at the island and help the young princess. Although "Los Corsarios" has some flaws in the plot, it is a good way to spend 90 minutes if you like adventure comedies .In spite of the shallow characters, the actors are especially nice. Fans of Dean Reed will be glad to see him in his Italian period while he was starring in spaghetti-westerns and adventure films. The other male and female parts are also convincingly performed.

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THE BLACK DUKE (1963)

-Previously available in an atrocious B&W print, here it is full color and letterboxed. Cesar Borgia--a cardinal in the Catholic church, a confidant of the Pope and a member of one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in 16th-century Italy--must deal with a host of political and personal crises. He is having problems with his mistress, and members of a secret society called The Black Carnation are out to assassinate him. The film stars Cameron Mitchell, Conrado San Martin and Maria Grazia Spina.

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THE INVINCIBLE MASKED RIDER (1963)

-IN GERMAN WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. Directed by Umberto Lenzi and starring Pierre Brice, Daniele Vargas and Helene Chanel. This is an Italian-French period costume piece retelling the Zorro legend, convincingly set in 1600s Spain. Pierre Brice (Winnetou) stars as Don Diego, who makes daring masked raids on his tyrannical stepfather's troops and incites the locals to stage an uprising. Brice was also in Zorro contra Maciste (released in America as Samson and the Slave Queen) for director Umberto Lenzi around the same time. Lenzi directed films of every genre for decades, but is best known for the gory horror films.

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SLAVE OF CARTHAGE (1956)

-IN ITALIAN WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. Directed by Guido Brignone and starring Gianna Maria Canale. Of all the Italian epics, this rarely-seen example would appear to be the most forgotten and the least acclaimed. On the face of it the film's credentials are highly impressive: the story is a broad re-make of Fabiola whereby a rich Roman lady is led to believe the Christians were responsible for the murder of her father. Italy's top costume villainess Gianna Maria Canale displays her customary icy exterior whilst harboring a secret inner passion for Spanish hunk Jorge Mistral (although neither probably knows what the other is talking about). Albertini's cinematography is visually stunning in rich color.

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THE SECRET MARK OF D'ARTAGNAN (1962)

-BEAUTIFUL WIDESCREEN PRINT. Director: Siro Marcellini and starring George Nader, Magali Noël, Georges Marchal. D'Artagnan and Porthos, working with Cardinal Richelieu, thwart a plan to overthrow Louis XIII. The Secret Mark of D'Artagnan borrows a handful of the characters and little else from the works of Dumas. Like many Italian films of the early 1960s, this swashbuckler stars an American actor, George Nader, in hopes of broadening its market. Nader plays D'Artagnan along more mature lines than most actors; he's even something of a ladies' man, a fact which very nearly gets him killed on several occasions. Confounding D'Artagnan's efforts to work on behalf of Louis XIII is Magali Noel as a buxom Milady De Winter.

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THE HERO OF BABYLON (1963)

-LETTERBOXED PRINT. The tyrant Balthazar(habitual nasty Spaghetti Western ,Folco Lulli), usurper of Babylone, rules the city with violence and atrocities. He organizes continuous sacrifices of maids along with the priestess(Moira Orfei, usual Peplum along with her sister Liana Orfei) of Astarte. Nippur(Gordon Scott),legitimate heir of throne, returns from exile with aim to retrieve the kingdom left by his father Sargon, kidnapped by Balthazar. During journey , Nippur frees Tamira(Genevieve Grad), a Jewish girl prepared to be sacrificed for Goddess Ishtar. Nippur is imprisoned by the usurper, but he escapes and is helped by king Persian Cyrus(Mario Petri).

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100 HORSEMEN (1964)

-IN ITALIAN WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. Don Fernando, the son of El Cid, rallies peasants and townspeople to overthrow Moorish occupiers in medieval Spain. Rare Peplum directed by Vittorio Cottafavi and starring Mark Damon, Antonella Lualdi, Gastone Moschin and Wolfgang Preiss. A specialist of the sword and sandal genre -"La Rivolta Dei Gladatiori" "Messalina Venere Imperatrice" "Le Legioni Di Cleopatra" :some say the latter is better than Mankiewicz's ;they must be blind- Vittorio Cottafavi ,who was a very educated man, never really made a movie which really showed it. , Cottafavi's film can stand on its own two feet thanks to the dazzlingly fluid direction which, despite the relatively low budget, gives the film a visually arresting look, particularly when pitting the red-cloaked rebels against the blue-clad Moors with the enslaved white-robed monks in the middle. Furthermore, composer Antonio Perez Olea provides a low-key but equally effective music score which goes against the grain of the grandiose ones typical of the genre. After a very funny first half, Cottafavi reserves his most outstanding trick for the climactic battle as he gradually drains all the color from the image and shooting most of it in black-and-white (anticipating Quentin Tarantino's KILL BILL VOL. 1 by 40 years!) thus rendering his depiction of the bleakness and tragedy of war all the more powerful.

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FURY OF ACHILLES (1962)

-LETTERBOXED PRINT. In the tenth year of the Trojan War, tensions between Achilles and Agamemnon divide the Greek camp while giving hope to the Trojans. Directed by Marino Girolami and starring Gordon Mitchell, Jacques Bergerac, Cristina Gaioni. Unlike any other Trojan War film I've seen, this one, like Homer, includes the gods and their divine intervention in human affairs. Achilles' near-invincibility is a supernatural fact, as demonstrated in a scene when he's stabbed and the blade is destroyed as if blasted by lightning. Yet the film doesn't feel like a fantasy, as do similar films about Jason, Hercules, or Ulysses; it's a psychological drama in which the psyche of the main character is driven by his understanding of his divine destiny. An oracle has revealed that Troy cannot fall until its champion, Hector, dies; Hector cannot die until Achilles slays him; and once that happens, Achilles must die. This is the burden of greatness — and doom — that lies upon Achilles. Even dubbed, Gordon Mitchell gives a powerful and convincing portrayal of the warrior who is both hero and monster. His physical presence is perfect: his physique is statuesque but his features are so rugged as to be ugly (think of Charles Bronson or Jack Palance); he is sexually alluring, physically intimidating, and frightening to look at.

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