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by Barry Atkinson


The Italian Peplum Phenomenon

by Barry Atkinson, 8.5x11, paperback
FULL COLOR, 342 pages, rare photos


Italian sword and sandal burst upon worldwide screens in 1957/8 with the release of Steve Reeves’ The Labors of Hercules/Hercules. Eight years and over 300 films later, peplum, as it was termed, died out as quickly as it had begun. Author Barry Atkinson brings this sadly neglected and misunderstood area of cinema to vivid life, exploring the genre’s origins, roots and major influences, and its myriad of offshoots encompassing swashbuckling, costume and historical dramas, among many. So welcome to a brash, exciting, colorful lost cinematic world of mythical musclemen heroes, gladiators, cavaliers, knights of old, pirates, ancient Egyptians, ancient Romans, Greek gods, Vikings, barbarians and fabulous monsters, not forgetting Robin Hood, Zorro and the Three Musketeers! Follow the amazing adventures of Hercules, Maciste, Ursus, Samson and Goliath; have the senses roused by bloody gladiatorial combat; journey to fabled lost civilizations and Hades; tremble at cataclysmic scenes of mass destruction; admire copious amounts of both male and female flesh; gape at huge armies on the march engaged in mighty battles; shudder to the sounds of ships’ cannonade; revel in evil villains and exotic queens; admire mammoth sets built by the hand of man; applaud at all those outlandish creatures; wonder how a long-forgotten classic epic like Suleiman the Conqueror can languish in the vaults; and giggle as Robin Hood takes on a gang of pirates in Italy’s version of Sherwood Forest! 
With the publication of this volume, it is hoped that Italian pepla cinema, and all those who took part in it, will reach the wider audience this rarely discussed genre so richly deserves.