(Lisa recently discovered that she only has about 8 hours of space left on her DVR! It turns out that she’s been recording movies from July and she just hasn’t gotten around to watching and reviewing them yet. So, once again, Lisa is cleaning out her DVR! She is going to try to watch and review 52 movies by the end of Tuesday, December 6th! Will she make it? Keep checking the site to find out!)
On November 10th, I recorded 1985’s The Adventures of Hercules off of the Encore Family channel.
Let’s see if I can explain exactly what this film is about. Bear with me because this is going to be a strange one. For that matter, you might also want to bare with me because The Adventures of Hercules is all about displaying the physique of body builder Lou Ferrigno. Ferrigno plays the legendary Greek demigod Hercules. Or I should say that he provides Hercules’s body and occasionally a facial expression or two. Since The Legend of Hercules was an Italian film, the entire cast is obviously and frequently awkwardly dubbed. That includes Ferrigno. Though Hercules doesn’t say much, when he does speak, he does so in a voice that really doesn’t go with his body, his personality, or anything that seems to be happening on screen.
Anyway, I guess I should try to explain the plot. I should mention that The Legend of Hercules is a sequel to another Hercules film. I haven’t seen the first Hercules film. Maybe the Legend of Hercules would have made more sense if I had, though I somehow doubt it.
Basically, bad things are happening on Earth. Why? Well, it appears that four of the Gods have gotten together and stolen Zeus’s 7 Mighty Thunderbolts. They’ve hidden the Thunderbolts across the planet, entrusting them with various monsters. As a result of Zeus no longer having his thunderbolts, the Moon is now on the verge of colliding with Earth and human sacrifices are also being committed to a monster that looks a lot like the ID Monster from Forbidden Planet.
What does a Mighty Thunderbolt look like? Here you go.
Two sisters, Urania (Milly Carlucci) and Glaucia (Sonia Vivani), appeal to Zeus for help but, of course, Zeus is powerless without his thunderbolts. However, he can still sends his son Hercules (Lou Ferrigno) to Earth. Working with the sisters, Hercules goes on a quest for the thunderbolts. This basically amounts to a series of scenes in which Hercules battles various people in rubber suits. Whenever Hercules throws a punch, he’s filmed so that appears that he’s punching the camera. Whenever Hercules’s fist makes contact, there’s a flash of red. Whenever anyone is knocked off their feet by Hercules, they flip around in slow motion. This happens every ten minutes or so.
Now, I don’t want to spoil the movie but I simply have to tell you about this. There is a scene, towards the end of the film, in which Hercules literally grabs hold of the Moon and prevents it from crashing into the Earth.
Anyway, the plot makes no sense and that’s a huge part of this film’s enthusiastic, if frequently inept, charm. As directed by the famed Italian director, Luigi Cozzi, The Adventures of Hercules has this cobbled together feeling to it that is undeniably likable. Much as with Cozzi’s best-known film, Starcrash, The Adventures of Hercules is a film that wins you over by pure determination. Cozzi set out to make a mythological epic and he wasn’t going to let something like a complete lack of budget stop him.
How strange an experience is The Adventures of Hercules? Check out some of these randomly assembled screen shots:
The other fun thing about The Adventures of Hercules is that, since this was a Luigi Cozzi film, the cast is full of Italian exploitation vets, the majority of whom were best known for appearing in far less family-friendly fare.
Here’s just a few of the performers you’ll find in The Adventures of Hercules:
Sonia Vivani, who plays Glaucia, also played the doomed sculptor in Umberto Lenzi’s infamous Nightmare City.
William Berger, who plays the villainous King Minos, appeared in several classic Spaghetti westerns, including Sabata. Sadly, his promising career was cut short when he was framed for drug possession and spent several years in an Italian prison. When he was finally freed, he ended up doing movies like The Adventures of Hercules.
Zeus was played by Claudio Cassinelli, an acclaimed actor who appeared in several giallo films. He also co-starred in 1978’s infamous Mountain of the Cannibal God.
The evil High Priest was played by Venantino Venantini whose credits include everything from The Agony and the Ecstasy to Lucio Fulci’s City of the Living Dead to Umberto Lenzi’s Cannibal Ferox.
Aphrodite is played by Margit Newton, who somewhat infamously starred in what is generally considered to be the worst zombie film of all time, Hell of the Living Dead.
Serena Grandi played Euryale (a.k.a. Medusa). Grandi is probably most remembered for his grotesque death scene in Antropophagus. She was also the star of one of my personal guilty pleasures, Lamberto Bava’s Delirium.
And finally, the mad scientist Dedalos was played by Eva Robbins, who achieved immortality by playing the Girl on the Beach in Dario Argento’s Tenebrae.
The Adventures of Hercules might not be “technically” a good film but it’s definitely (and rather compulsively) watchable.