Thursday, November 02, 2006

XXIX. VULCANO, FIGLIO DI GIOVE (VULCAN, SON OF JUPITER) 1961


Vulcano, figlio di giove

Year; 1961

Director ; Emimmo Salvi
Country; Italy
Duration; 76 minutes
Available; DVD-R Region 1 Sinister Cinema
Colour * Panned and Scanned * mono
Original Ratio; 2:35:1

Alternative; Vulcan, God of Fire /Vulcan, Son of Giove (USA) /Vulcan, Son of Jupiter

The Players; Richard Lloyd (Vulcan) (as Rod Flash) Gordon Mitchell (Pluto) Bella Cortez (Etna) Roger Browne (Mars) Annie Gorassini (Venus) with; Edda Ferronao / Omero Gargano / Furio Meniconi


Usually in peplum the gods and goddesses are pushed into the background and are no more than ‘crop ups’ when they are seen to be summoned, enraged or playing games of ‘fate’ with the lives of their mortals.

Vulcan Son of Jupiter is a total exception to the rule. The main characters are gods and goddesses, this time of Roman naming, and are the pivotal protagonists in the films kitsch proceedings.

Vulcan lays somewhere between Hamateur dramatics and theatrical farce. Relying on a shoestring and promising far more than it ever could deliver Vulcan seems nothing more than the filming of a huge stage production.

Even the backdrops are painted. Not as in the fabulous ‘glass’ technique used in quite a few peplum epics that, depending on how good the artist is, really works but as in blue emulsion sky and motionless matt clouds associated with nativity, should you ever have had to endure such torture.

The actors, a varied selection of European wannabees cavort and prance on the stage whilst trying their hardest to leave an impression on the viewer as they become their character.

It’s a bit hit and miss. Gordon Mitchell romps home first with his portrayal of Pluto but his outbursts of false hysterical laughter is totally unwarranted in some places. Mercury is an effeminate little chap moaning and pouting whilst stretching his legs in almost every scene he’s in.

Venus is played by Annie Gorsani that brings uber dumb blonde sex appeal to her role as she teases her beefcake suitors in nothing more than a yard of chiffon and heavy mascara.

I personally don’t think she’s anything too hot, she has a funny mouth, and her o.t.t sexy seductivity makes me laugh more than admire beauty. She eventually went on to appear in some Italian Bond-esque cash-ins and an appearance in Fellinis 8 ½.

But what about Vulcan? , he is played by Rod Flash (Richard Lloyd) and has all the charisma and persona of a county council worker; dull, drab and uninteresting. Though his facial features could be arguably considered purely ‘Herculean’, the sort you’d see on a jar in a museum.

He adds the brawn to the ‘action’ sequences but does it with little flair and stone cold panache.

Despite the meagre budget this little oddity brings us lizard men, a couple of creatures and the odd special effect. All are absolute crap mind you; check out Jupiter’s thunder bolt!

A bit of sincerity can be defined with what Emimmo Salvi is trying to achieve despite the minimum amount available to spend and the cast seem to be having a good time of it; for the intended viewer this rubs off in a way.

I am not saying Vulcan is amazing by any standards as it is cheesy and tacky but it is very likeable and worth the purchase.

The print I obtained from Sinister Cinema is of a smashing calibre when you consider its rarity and vintage. Although a little faded in colour the vividness and vibrancy still pushed its way outwards enhancing even further this unusual Roman pantomime.

Mars and Vulcan are sons of Jupiter and are both trying to win the purest affection from Venus.

Venus delights in teasing her male admirers which gives her the opportunity for much attentive flattery and them the opportunity to fight and argue.

Such displays of disharmony towards each other begin to annoy the residents of Olympus.

At one stage it reaches such a crescendo that Jupiter casts out both sons to Earth without their special powers.

Amongst the mortals their battles continue, Mars retaliates against his father by instigating an uprising and Vulcan battles varied menaces to protect his people and their mortality.

Vulcan eventually begins to fall in love for a mortal peasant woman. This makes Venus bitter with envy and together with Mars they turn on Vulcan aiming to bring about his utter demise and the enslavement of his beloved people.

It all culminates in a head on clash between the two brothers and a surprisingly well staged whip fight between the two female leads.

Another bonus is the cosiness as Vulcan, the peasant girl and a dwarf (comic relief) form an alliance and has a separate series of adventures throughout the duration. This trio is highly watchable and despite the wood there is a gentile chemistry between the cast members.

Vulcan Son of Jupiter is a slightly off-beat watchable piece of escapism that manages to cross the borderline into obscurity by the standards of sword and sandal, and is worth seeing because of this fact alone.

A cosy view for the long winter nights ahead……..



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