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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Assorted Bits & Pieces: A Thank You, Some Changes, Blog Stats, DVD News & Peplumania!

First off, I would like to thank those who take the time out of their schedules to read the various reviews and articles posted here. Regardless of whether or not a comment is left, it is refreshing that people are reading, or even looking at something they find of interest here. I have recently changed some things. Mainly, I did away with all the 'volumes' of various themes. Before, I would amass six reviews per volume, but since doing such things was tasking and a bit frustrating, I figured it didn't really make a difference as only so many reviews are going to be present on a page at one time anyways. Now, every section in the sidebars to the right (such Drive In of Doom, Kung Fu Theater, etc...) is all one section. When you get to the bottom of the page, just click 'older posts' and it will take you to the next page of corresponding titles to that particular label. I'm still learning things about blogger as I am not very computer literate.

Gordon Scott (left/middle) and Steve Reeves (right/middle) from ROMULUS & REMUS (1961); both are two titans of the sword and sandal genre, a much neglected cinema style that gets a Herculean number of hits here at

I installed a site meter back in January so as to get an idea as to what people are reading and from that, what seems to be the most popular searches and also what types of movies garner the most interest. The entry pages ranked by visits reveals some curious information. Below is a listing of the top 20 most read entries (not counting archive searches and the main page) on the site AS OF RIGHT NOW. Granted, this fluctuates from day to day for some of the titles. Some stay pretty much where they are and others, such as 5 ELEMENT NINJAS, jumped up to the number one spot in just a couple of days back in February. I'm not quite clear on how exactly the numbers are allocated, but these are the titles in order of there placement as 'Entry Pages Ranked By Visits'. Click a link to be taken to that entry.

1. The 26 Best Sword & Sandal Adventures
2. The 20 Best Hammer Horror Films
3. Italian Peplums & Fusto Films: Muscleman Adventure/Fantasy Overview Part 3
4. Deathstalker (review)
5. Sins of Celluloid 2: You Are What They Eat!
6. Shaw Brothers & Kung Fu Cinema Part 4
7. Tentacles (review)
8. The Rebel Gladiator (review)
9. Sins of Celluloid 3: Made In Japan
10. Italian Crime Cinema: Blood In the Streets & A Decade of Violence Part 3
11. Romulus & Remus (review)
12. Chrome & Hot Leather (review)
13. Vampire Circus (review)
14. Remakes: Redux, Or Ridiculous? Clash of the Titans '81 vs. Clash '10
15. Triumph of the Ten Gladiators (review)
16. Inquisition (review)
17. The Big Bird Cage (review)
18. Piranha 2: the Spawning (review)
19. Five Element Ninjas (review)
20. Deathsport (review)

Dan Vadis (right) confers with the lovely Helga Line (left) that two of his movies are frequently perused on this blog. This shot is from TRIUMPH OF THE TEN GLADIATORS (1964)

Despite there being relatively few comments about them, the Italian sword and sandal films are, amazingly, the most frequently read, or perused articles here. I've had an off and on relationship with the genre, enjoying them as a little kid for their larger than life heroes and occasional monsters. Later on, I fell out of favor with the genre and eventually came back around to them about ten years ago. Since then, I've noticed they are one of the most neglected of Italian cinema styles in America. They seem popular in fan circles everywhere else, though.

Rick Hill as DEATHSTALKER (1983)

Recently I found an Italian DVD website that had a plethora of sword and sandal titles. Sadly, seemingly none of these have English options on the discs. But if you've seen the dubbed versions and you're a dedicated fan, these are highly recommended purchases. Below is a list of the recent titles I have picked up...

Gordon Scott turns his attention to a tiger menacing a young boy after taking out a bunch of Mongol villains in MACISTE AT THE COURT OF THE GREAT KHAN

1. MACISTE AT THE COURT OF THE GREAT KHAN (1961) released here as SAMSON & THE 7 MIRACLES OF THE WORLD. One of the great Gordon Scott's best! The complete Italian version containing over 15 extra minutes!

The totally hot Chelo Alonso, a spicy Cuban sensation

2. MACISTE IN THE VALLEY OF THE KINGS (1960) released here as SON OF SAMSON. Chelo Alonso shakes her moneymaker! Again!! Some shockingly gruesome violence in this one!!!

3. SPARTACUS & THE TEN GLADIATORS (1964) The second in Nick Nostro's popular muscleman trilogy starring Dan Vadis! This Italian DVD looks great! Check the screen caps below!!

4. THE FURY OF ACHILLES (1961) One of the best peplums period! Gordon Mitchell kicks all kinds of ass in this movie that thoroughly delivers on its title! Co-stars two of the most beautiful and recognized sword and sandal actresses, Jose Greci and Gloria Milland! Another fabulous print!

5. SEVEN REBEL GLADIATORS (1965) Michele Lupo did his own peplum trilogy starring Roger Browne (THE TEN GLADIATORS). Fulci fans will recognize Dakar (ZOMBIE) among the cast of gladiators!

6. COLOSSUS OF THE ARENA (1962) Something of a rare Mark Forest peplum adventure. Also stars Dan Vadis in his first gladiator role seen here as one of the main villains! The review is coming very soon!!

7. GOLIATH & THE SINS OF BABYLON (1963) One of the biggest sword and sandal adventures of all time. It will be a joy to see this one in its original unexpergated Italian version!

8. ATLAS IN THE LAND OF THE CYCLOPS (1961) Originally titled MACISTE IN THE LAND OF THE CYCLOPS (translated from the Italian title), this was Gordon Mitchell's first foray into the genre and while it's rather silly in its US incarnation, it will be great to see it in this widescreen uncut version! Chelo Alonso co-stars!!

9. THE REVENGE OF SPARTACUS (1964) I believe this is the first of Michele Lupo's gladiator trilogy. Stars Roger Browne!

10. SEVEN SLAVES AGAINST THE WORLD (1964) Roger Browne again, but this time with the participation of Gordon Mitchell! The other entry in Lupo's trilogy!

11. HERO OF BABYLON (1963) Released here as BEAST OF BABYLON AGAINST THE SON OF HERCULES, this is one of Gordon Scott's best movies. He was the best actor of the genre and one of the most intense performers who wasn't afraid of doing his own stunts. Also stars the gorgeous Moira Orfei and spaghetti western villain Piero Lulli!

Here is a DVD comparison between the US Public Domain releases and the new DVD from Brave Film/UniVideo from Italy of SPARTACUS & THE TEN GLADIATORS. Curiously, the Italian DVDs aspect ratio is 1:85.1 when most, if not all movies in this genre I have seen are in 2:35.1 scope. Still, this restored version far surpasses any stateside release of this title...

Vadis and perennial cult villain favorite, Milton Reid fight to the death the first of several times. From the Italian DVD

US release screencap

Helga Line looks so much better in restored color!

In other news, Synapse Films have acquired the US rights to three Hammer favorites--VAMPIRE CIRCUS, TWINS OF EVIL and HANDS OF THE RIPPER (all 1971). These new discs from Synapse are to carry a slew of extras. RIPPER is also uncut. All three have been available in various overseas editions, but finally make their American DVDebuts (source: dvdmaniacs).

In related Euro horror news, Severin has acquired the rights to two cult film classics-- HORROR EXPRESS (1972) and THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD (1970). Despite already being released by Image (their disc was non-anamorphic) and Lionsgate respectively, these new discs are to be brand new transfers and containing all new extras. HOUSE was also released in a nice special edition from Anchor Bay UK (source: dvdmaniacs).

Also, Shout! Factory, the label responsible for the handful of ELVIRA'S MOVIE MACABRE discs have acquired 50 Roger Corman classics from the great days of New World Pictures. Two upcoming releases (already up for pre-order at amazon) are the cult classics GALAXY OF TERROR (1981; making its long awaited US DVDebut) and FORBIDDEN WORLD (1982). Both titles are to have great extras. The latter title contains the directors cut on a second disc (source: dvdmaniacs).



Carl (ILHM) said...

Dude you have your work cut out for you with all of those S+S flicks you can now get your hands on, with enough imagination you can totally fill in the dialog yourself!

I only just learned about FORBIDDEN WORLD coming out but had no idea I was FINALLY going to get to see TWINS OF EVIL and VAMPIRE CIRCUS, that is awesome news indeed!

venoms5 said...

I got the English versions for most of them, just filling in the gaps for the bits cut for the US export versions will be the problem. As long as there's Italian subs, I can use babelfish to translate.

Yeah, I am pretty ecstatic about all the great Corman movies coming out. There are some choice titles. Both GALAXY and FORBIDDEN WORLD will be upgrades. The Italian DVD for GALAXY looks gorgeous already, but no extras outside of a trailer. FORBIDDEN WORLD looks okay, but this version (which includes the directors cut) will be an upgrade all around. I missed the boat on the Carlton DVD of HANDS OF THE RIPPER, so this will be a nice addition to the collection. I only have a DVD-R copy of the old VidAmerica tape, which I believe was uncut, too.

Cliff said...

For you Helga Line fans out there:

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