It's the genre that just won't die, as epic films featuring immortal heroes and ancient derring-do remain one of cinema's true cross-generational kickers. But the sword-and-sandal film — a derisive term that, like the spaghetti Western, is now embraced by fans — has not only continued to grace big screens; it's managed to flourish among the giant-robot blockbusters and caped-crusader tentpoles of the 21st century. The peplum has consistently reinvented (or at least reinvigorated) itself ad infinitum since the first S&S fantasy played to packed theaters 100 years ago; the sight of men in togas and loincloths flexing their biceps, battling armies or beasts, and crossing blades is a gift that seems to keep on giving.
'Hercules' and This Summer's Other 'Season of Fierce' Films
This week sees the release of the latest take on the genre's most well-known protagonist – that half-god, half-mortal known as Hercules – with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson starring in the second of two 2014 movies devoted to the resident strong man of Mount Olympus. But how much do you know about the muscle-bound mythology flicks? It's time to bone up on your antiquity-beefcake basics – here are 10 sword-and-sandal films you need to see in order to hoist your own battle flag nice and high. By Kate Erbland