Call Me Stormy

Finding righteous currents in turbulent times

Archive for the tag “sword and sandal epic”

Sappho, Venus of Lesbos

Today’s Trillion Dollar Movie — Sappho, Venus of Lesbos — stars Ginger from Gilligan’s Island (Tina Louise) along with scores of scantily clad women. Now, if that’s not enough enticement to watch the movie, you’ve got ice water coursing through your veins, not blood.

Inexplicably released in the United States as The Warrior Empress, this 1960 Italian import was one of 300 sword and sandal epics rushed into production in a three-year span following the success of Hercules, with Steve Reeves. Sappho, Venus of Lesbos doesn’t boast any Hercules wannabes, let alone bare-chested men. But Kerwin Mathews, fresh from playing the lead in The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad,  resurfaces as an earnest and energetic hero, the type usually aided by Hercules. In the absence of same, Mathews’ Phaon relies for help instead from Louise’s Sappho, billed in the film’s tagline as “the world’s boldest beauty.” She doesn’t bear much resemblance to the historic poetess of yore, but who watches peplum classics for their intellectual content?

Warming up for Gilligan’s Island, she lives in an “island” along a seacoast, cut off from the mainland by a moat. Inside this protected enclave lives a sorority of fetching vestal virgins who parade around in sheer nightgowns. Again, little of this is historically accurate, but who cares?  Phaon literally falls into this compound, and falls in love with Sappho, pitting him in a grudge match against Hyperbius (an excellent Riccardo Garrone), the man to whom she is pledged.

Otherwise, this epic touches all of the expected bases. It’s got snarling lions, dueling chariots, an uprising against a greedy king, skullduggery at sea, and enough swordplay to fill an entire Star Wars trilogy. The lush musical score by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino adds grace notes. Enjoy, and do return again next Friday for another Trillion $ Movie.

Trillion Dollar Movie (6-8-12)

What’s Hercules’ son Maciste doing as a time traveler? Find out in FIRE MONSTERS AGAINST THE SON OF HERCULES (1962), which transports our intrepid hero back to prehistoric times to wrangle with dinosaurs and tangle with moonbat cavemen who have stolen the women of a sun-worshiping tribe. The dinosaurs don’t breathe any fire, the cavemen have underwear on beneath their loincloths, and there’s not even a Solyndra cameo! Still, the excitement mounts as Maciste (played by Rex Lewis from SEXTETTE) leads the sun-men into the bowels of a volcano to pummel the moonbats and save the enslaved women from a fate worse than death. Today’s Trillion Dollar offering was shot on a shoestring, in Yugoslavia, in glorious Cro-Magnacolor, exactly 50 years ago. Stop by every Friday for a new Trillion Dollar Movie (T$M), something vintage from the vaults of YouTube.

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