Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

October 15, 2020

Peter Lupus/Rock Stevens in GIANT OF THE EVIL ISLAND (Italy, 1965)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 12:03 am
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American actor Peter Lupus, after his comic performance as muscleman “Rock Stevens” in the 1964 film MUSCLE BEACH PARTY, wound up making four films in Italy billed as Rock Stevens! The first three were traditional sword and sandal films, though all are first-rate and Lupus/Stevens was a much better actor than some of the bodybuilders who went to Europe to star in historical epics; the fourth, however, was NOT a muscle-rippling epic in the Hercules tradition: it was a historical swashbuckling adventure, GIANT OF THE EVIL ISLAND.

Il mistero dell’isola maledetta (aka Giant of the Evil Island)

Italy 1965, directed by Piero Pierotti

starring Peter Lupus/Rock Stevens as Capt. Pedro Valverde (voiced by Frank Latimore)

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I saw and enjoyed the film several times on UHF television back in the 70’s and 80’s, and it has always been the hardest to find of the four Italian films Lupus made before rocketing to international stardom on the MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE tv show. Thankfully, Larry Anderson taped it off TV back in the day, and was kind enough to post it online, so now we all can enjoy it exactly as it would have looked on some low-wattage UHF station out of Tulsa in 1987. Re-watching the film this week, I consider it a classic of a sort, and having Lupus voiced by the great FRANK LATIMORE makes it even more impressive, as Latimore’s rich, sonorous stage-actor voice is always a pleasure to hear and gives the character a good amount of gravitas. Latimore always took these dubbing jobs seriously, and as with Edmund Purdom’s dubbing work, it’s an interesting and initially surreal experience to hear the voice of a recognizable movie star (as Latimore and Purdom were) dubbing someone else.

Here’s a review of the film I published online in 2003:

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exciting Italian 60s swashbuckler w/ Peter Lupus (Rock Stevens)
17 August 2003 | by django-1
After achieving fame in the film MUSCLE BEACH PARTY, actor-bodybuilder Peter Lupus, then using the stage name of Rock Stevens, made four sword-and-sandal/adventure films in Italy during 1964-65, all of which are worthwhile. I’ve always felt Lupus, during this period at least, resembled the young Sylvester Stallone, and he is very comfortable on-screen and a convincing actor, which no doubt landed him the role soon after this on TV’s classic MISSION IMPOSSIBLE. GIANT OF THE EVIL ISLAND, as the English-dubbed AIP-TV version of this film is called (which is panned-and-scanned), is NOT a sword-and-sandal film, but a costume swashbuckler where Lupus/Stevens plays Pedro, who becomes Captain of a ship when its older Captain retires and who is devoted to breaking up a lair of criminals led by one Maloch on a place called Evil Island. Pedro has TWO lovely ladies with whom he becomes intertwined: the shifty and scheming Alma and the good and true Bianca. The battles between ships are very well done for what must have been a moderate-budgeted film, and the sets and visuals are rich and colorful throughout. There’s a lot of exciting swordplay (which Lupus handles convincingly!), and overall it’s an exciting film and wonderful escapist entertainment. Director Piero Pierotti wrote and/or directed a few dozen films in the post WWII era, including such genre classics with American stars as PIRATE AND THE SLAVE GIRL and KNIGHT OF 100 FACES (both with Lex Barker), MARCO POLO (Rory Calhoun), the western HEADS OR TAILS (John Ericson–I’ll need to dig out my copy of that and review it) the amazing NIGHTSTAR: GODDESS OF ELECTRA/WAR OF THE ZOMBIES (great performance by John Drew Barrymore), and THE AVENGER OF VENICE (Brett Halsey). I noticed in the credits that this was shot in totalscope, so perhaps some future DVD release will be in widescreen as such a visually striking film as this should be appreciated in its original form. Still, the pan-and-scan VHS/DVD version floating around is worth watching, and all four of Peter Lupus/Rock Stevens’ Italian films are worth finding. The other three films are GOLIATH AT THE CONQUEST OF DAMASCUS, CHALLENGE OF THE GLADIATOR, and HERCULES AGAINST THE TYRANTS OF BABYLON
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The film is missing its opening credits and is presented in three parts below. Best to NOT watch this on anything larger than a computer screen:

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