Biblical-Roman-Egyptian epics not yet on Blu-ray

Ed Lachmann

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Some good news for Steve Reeves fans! While visiting Amazon Japan, I came upon a blu-ray box set of the Steve Reeves Hercules and Hercules Unchained. It is hard to locate, but if you search using the name ercole, you will find it and the single BDs as well. I can't make out if the English version is an option as all the liner notes are in Japanese. Most probably it is the Italian dub, but if the transfers are nice it may be worth looking into (Japanese BDs are Region A). Wonder if this means a future English friendly release might be forthcoming. I kind of doubt it, though, since the nice BD of Victor Mature's Hannibal is still only available in Japan (in English with a gorgeous transfer). I'm WAY tempted so I'm inclined to bite for this. What do you think?
 
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Robin9

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Some good news for Steve Reeves fans! While visiting Amazon Japan, I came upon a blu-ray box set of the Steve Reeves Hercules and Hercules Unchained. It is hard to locate, but if you search using the name ercole, you will find it and the single BDs as well. I can't make out if the English version is an option as all the liner notes are in Japanese. Most probably it is the Italian dub, but if the transfers are nice it may be worth looking into (Japanese BDs are Region A). Wonder if this means a future English friendly release might be forthcoming. I kind of doubt it, though, since the nice BD of Victor Mature's Hannibal is still only available in Japan (in English with a gorgeous transfer). I'm WAY tempted so I'm inclined to bite for this. What do you think?
What do I think? If you can afford it, go for it!
 
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Konstantinos

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I can't make out if the English version is an option as all the liner notes are in Japanese. Most probably it is the Italian dub,
According to google translation:

specification
1920 × 1080 FULL HD (Original: Scope Size) / Color / Voice 1: Italian (2ch Monaural) / Japanese Subtitle
 
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OliverK

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I just watched Land of the Pharaohs (1955) I enjoyed it. Never got to see the whole movie until tonight. Love to have it on Bluray ! C'mon WBArchive ! Release .. Helen of Troy and Land of the Pharaohs this year on Bluray. PLEASE !
Glad you like it - I think it has some epic cinematography that is shortchanged a lot by the low quality DVD version.
 

johnmcmasters

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Thanks for the heads up about the Japanese blu-ray release of the two Hercules films! I bit the bullet and pre-ordered. By my count there are now only a handful of sword and sandal/peplum films on blu-ray (I am excluding biblical epics from this list which may be irksome):

1. Hercules
2. Hercules Unchained
3. The Beastmaster (perhaps associational but for me it qualifies)
4. The Colossus of Rhodes
5, Anthar the Invincible (Devil of the Desert Against the Son of Hercules)
6. Le Gladiatrici (Thor and the Amazon Women)
7. Associational: A Long Ride from Hell (Steve Reeves western)

Please correct my list as I acknowledge that I don't keep up with releases as thoroughly as I should!
 
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skylark68

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Revolt of the Slaves - Kino Lorber (kind of walks the line between peplum and a '50s era Biblical epic)
Erik the Conqueror - Arrow (another pseudo sword and sandal film)

These two may not be "proper" peplum films but they fit the mold pretty close.
 
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Ed Lachmann

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I'd add to John's list:
8. Japanese Ulmer/Mature Hannibal (nice quality)
9. German Kirk Douglas Ulysses (also nice)
I understand NO English on Anthar or Gladiatrici.
 
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johnmcmasters

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We should add the German Blu-ray release of HERCULES IN THE UNDERWORLD to the list.

Also, the Japanese box set of HERCULES and HERCULES UNCHAINED arrived on Friday. I’ve had a chance to watch both films. With the caveat that I am absolutely no expert on technical aspects of this release, this is my very amateur report:

The set includes two clear plastic keepcases housed in a dark purple, glossy, cardboard case. Included are 8 postcard size lobby card which are fun to have. Booklets are included with each film – containing color stills. Texts in Japanese of course.

Language options – only Italian. Subtitle options – only Japanese.

Timings: my OPPO says HERCULES is 1:43.11, and HERCULES UNCHAINED is 1:40:08.

My OPPO says both films are 60i not 24p frame rate. Both are Region 1.

HERCULES has the bright red opening title sequence – the left side icons are, however, cut off by the transfer. HERCULES UNCHAINED seems framed exactly like the German Concord anamorphic DVD that I own.

I can only compare this box set to the Concord, German, release of the same films. On the Concord, HERCULES is non-anamorphic and is cropped on both sides. As noted above, the Concord HERCULES UNCHAINED is anamorphic and seems framed correctly.

HERCULES is a very dark transfer – any dark shadows, dark trees or black or brown togas become black impenetrable blobs. Colors tend to a greenish hue including skin tones. Reds pop but the dark transfer makes everything seem afternoon-ish, even the first athletic competition which takes place in full daylight. On a positive note, image detail seems concomitant with, for example, the new Blu-ray edition of HERCULES IN THE UNDERWORLD. It definitely looks better than the Concord DVD, but that is probably faint praise.

HERCULES UNCHAINED also seems dark – and the image is very fuzzy with no detail at all – the image detail seems just on a part with the Concord DVD as upconverted by my OPPO. Much less image detail than HERCULES. The image is more colorful, with some of Bava’s outré images popping. Reds again pop – for example, in the cave lair of the evil queen, there are many more shades of red, magenta, gold, green and blue. Details, again, just suck – only on a part with an upconverted DVD.

So overall I was mildly disappointed – but my expectations were a bit low low to begin with.
 

Robin9

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We should add the German Blu-ray release of HERCULES IN THE UNDERWORLD to the list.

Also, the Japanese box set of HERCULES and HERCULES UNCHAINED arrived on Friday. I’ve had a chance to watch both films. With the caveat that I am absolutely no expert on technical aspects of this release, this is my very amateur report:

The set includes two clear plastic keepcases housed in a dark purple, glossy, cardboard case. Included are 8 postcard size lobby card which are fun to have. Booklets are included with each film – containing color stills. Texts in Japanese of course.

Language options – only Italian. Subtitle options – only Japanese.

Timings: my OPPO says HERCULES is 1:43.11, and HERCULES UNCHAINED is 1:40:08.

My OPPO says both films are 60i not 24p frame rate. Both are Region 1.

HERCULES has the bright red opening title sequence – the left side icons are, however, cut off by the transfer. HERCULES UNCHAINED seems framed exactly like the German Concord anamorphic DVD that I own.

I can only compare this box set to the Concord, German, release of the same films. On the Concord, HERCULES is non-anamorphic and is cropped on both sides. As noted above, the Concord HERCULES UNCHAINED is anamorphic and seems framed correctly.

HERCULES is a very dark transfer – any dark shadows, dark trees or black or brown togas become black impenetrable blobs. Colors tend to a greenish hue including skin tones. Reds pop but the dark transfer makes everything seem afternoon-ish, even the first athletic competition which takes place in full daylight. On a positive note, image detail seems concomitant with, for example, the new Blu-ray edition of HERCULES IN THE UNDERWORLD. It definitely looks better than the Concord DVD, but that is probably faint praise.

HERCULES UNCHAINED also seems dark – and the image is very fuzzy with no detail at all – the image detail seems just on a part with the Concord DVD as upconverted by my OPPO. Much less image detail than HERCULES. The image is more colorful, with some of Bava’s outré images popping. Reds again pop – for example, in the cave lair of the evil queen, there are many more shades of red, magenta, gold, green and blue. Details, again, just suck – only on a part with an upconverted DVD.

So overall I was mildly disappointed – but my expectations were a bit low low to begin with.
Many thanks for that. I was in danger of wasting good money on this. You have prevented me from making a big mistake.
 

OliverK

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We should add the German Blu-ray release of HERCULES IN THE UNDERWORLD to the list.

Also, the Japanese box set of HERCULES and HERCULES UNCHAINED arrived on Friday. I’ve had a chance to watch both films. With the caveat that I am absolutely no expert on technical aspects of this release, this is my very amateur report:

The set includes two clear plastic keepcases housed in a dark purple, glossy, cardboard case. Included are 8 postcard size lobby card which are fun to have. Booklets are included with each film – containing color stills. Texts in Japanese of course.

Language options – only Italian. Subtitle options – only Japanese.

Timings: my OPPO says HERCULES is 1:43.11, and HERCULES UNCHAINED is 1:40:08.

My OPPO says both films are 60i not 24p frame rate. Both are Region 1.

HERCULES has the bright red opening title sequence – the left side icons are, however, cut off by the transfer. HERCULES UNCHAINED seems framed exactly like the German Concord anamorphic DVD that I own.

I can only compare this box set to the Concord, German, release of the same films. On the Concord, HERCULES is non-anamorphic and is cropped on both sides. As noted above, the Concord HERCULES UNCHAINED is anamorphic and seems framed correctly.

HERCULES is a very dark transfer – any dark shadows, dark trees or black or brown togas become black impenetrable blobs. Colors tend to a greenish hue including skin tones. Reds pop but the dark transfer makes everything seem afternoon-ish, even the first athletic competition which takes place in full daylight. On a positive note, image detail seems concomitant with, for example, the new Blu-ray edition of HERCULES IN THE UNDERWORLD. It definitely looks better than the Concord DVD, but that is probably faint praise.

HERCULES UNCHAINED also seems dark – and the image is very fuzzy with no detail at all – the image detail seems just on a part with the Concord DVD as upconverted by my OPPO. Much less image detail than HERCULES. The image is more colorful, with some of Bava’s outré images popping. Reds again pop – for example, in the cave lair of the evil queen, there are many more shades of red, magenta, gold, green and blue. Details, again, just suck – only on a part with an upconverted DVD.

So overall I was mildly disappointed – but my expectations were a bit low low to begin with.
Thanks for taking one for the team, much appreciated and sorry to hear that these do not look better!
 

Ed Lachmann

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Thank you, John, for taking the plunge. I was close to it but the Italian and Japanese subs only situation made me wary. I keep hoping that some company like Kino or Shout will dig these two up, but I fear that only the Italian dub version remains in decent shape. I'd certainly buy an Italian with English subs version, however. Same with Sodom and Gomorrah if such a thing ever becomes available.
 

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