Warriors Classic 50 Movies, Disc 6

Son of Hercules in the Land of Darkness (orig. Ercole l’invincible or Hercules the Invincible), 1964, color. Al World (Alvaro Mancori) (dir.), Dan Vadis, Spela Rozin. 1:20.

As offered here, this is one in a series of Sons of Hercules films, with a lively and very silly theme song at beginning and end—and apparently offered as a two-parter, since roughly an hour in we’re given a fast preview of the final 20-28 minutes as “in the next part.”

Never mind. At times fast-moving, at times just lots of scenery with son Argolese and his cowardly sidekick wandering around either looking for a city surrounded by lava or within the city. The first 20 minutes have the daughter of a rustic village king stripping down to take a swim (although she winds up holding her short tunic in front of her) and about to be attacked by a lion, which Argolese naturally defeats. He’s told that would be enough to win the hand of anybody but the daughter of the king—but for her hand he has to slay a non-fiery dragon that’s threatening the village and bring back a tooth. Which, with the aid of a witch, he does—all in the first 20 minutes,

Meanwhile, the soldiers of an evil queen—frim the lava-surrounded city—destroy the village and take all but the coward prisoner. That sets up the rest of the movie. We see that Argolese has almost unlimited strength (he can easily defeat hundreds of armed soldiers, partly because the only use they make of their spears is to let him grab them and throw them, once impaling three soldiers on a single spear), but he’s not quite strong enough to keep two circus elephants from tearing him apart—until his quick prayer to his gods results in one of the chains breaking.

Lots more plot in one final busy day, and all ends well—if we’re to believe that the beautiful daughter, who’s been strapped to a St. Andrew’s Cross and bleeding nearly to the point of death is wholly recovered six minutes after being rescued. I guess love is strong.

Silliness aside, this is well-mounted, a generally very good color print, panned-and-scanned well enough that it wasn’t bothersome, and fun. I’ll give it $1.50.

Gladiators of Rome (orig. Il gladiatore di Roma, and IMDB has the singular “Gladiator”), 1962, “color.” Mario Costa (dir.), Gordon Scott, Wandisa Guida, Roberto Risso. 1:40.

Sometimes life really is too short. The title credits were in yellow text on a shades-of-yellow background; after that, at least for the first 15-20 minutes, it was black, red and white, with various reds the only colors to be seen. Add to that the pace: several minutes of people talking so quickly that I could never follow the plot, followed by action sequences basically showing that the current emperor was a bloodthirsty villain determined to drive out Christianity at all costs. Oh, there’s a superhumanly strong slave—and a beautiful slave girl who is, according to the IMDB summary, really a princess.

What the hell. It’s on Amazon Prime and might even have real color there. I gave up. According to IMDB reviews, I was probably right to do so. $0.

Goliath and the Dragon, aka Vengeance of Hercules (orig, La vendetta di Ercole), 1960, color. Vittorio Cottafavi (dir.), Mark Forest, Broderick Crawford, Gaby André. 1:27.

Now this is more like it! Very widescreen (if your TV can zoom the small 3×4 picture), fairly good print (a bit red-shifted at times, but fine overall), and…did you notice the second named actor? That’s right, Broderick Crawford is King Eurystheus, the sadistic ruler of Italia, a kingdom nearby Thebes, which is protected by Goliath.

Goliath has been sent on a mission to restore the Blood Diamond from a god’s statue that Crawford hid—in a cave protected by three-headed/flaming dogs and, I guess, a not very impressive dragon. Crawford’s convinced that Goliath is dead, making Thebes right for the plucking. Things don’t quite work out that way…

The oddity here: we’re told early on that Goliath has been granted not only enormous strength but immortality—yet one of the subplots involves Goliath’s brother poisoning him (don’t ask). Maybe immortality has a different meaning than I thought?

Anyway: bare-chested specimens of brute strength. Women in peril. Men in peril. Telepathy. Visits from an ethereal representative of the gods—in the final one of which the representative apparently cares more for Goliath than for the gods. A reasonably happy ending. (Well, not for Crawford…)

There’s also a little peasant who could be a sidekick, but he’s only in the movie for maybe two minutes total. Oh, and Goliath is also apparently Emelius the Mighty. Oh, and Mark Forest is apparently our old friend Lou Degni.

Apparently the American version, which I saw, is significantly different than the original, including the pretty much unconvincing stop-motion animation of the non-flaming dragon. It also changed hero names because American International released it—and Universal owned the rights to Hercules. Gods are easy; studio licensing departments are tough.

Oh, the US version has all new music, by Les Baxter no less.

All in all, I found this one satisfying: by the low standards of Warrior flicks, a full $2.

Maciste in King Solomon’s Mines (orig. Maciste nelle miniere del re Salomone). 1964, color. Piero Regnoli (dir.), Reg Park, Wandisa Guida, Bruno Piergentili. 1:32.

Good things: the version I have doesn’t rename Maciste as Samson (although others apparently do, including the IMDB page, which clearly shows the Maciste title). Equal opportunity villains: the king who’s usurped the throne and his partner in crime, a woman who wants half the profits from the mines (which the old king had kept closed to avoid problems) are both sadists—which I guess explains why they take forever to carry out their Fiendish Tortures, thus allowing Maciste to save the day. Oh, and if you relish extended closeups of a grotesque hero’s muscles, well, you get lots of that.

Otherwise…it’s a panned-and-scanned segment of a widescreen movie. Another case where blues and yellows rarely appear. Reg Park comes off as an absolute doofus even when he’s not captive to a magic ankle bracelet (and yes, first overcome by a special garland—don’t these folks ever learn?). Indeed, his “acting” seems about as lively when he has no will as it does the rest of the time. It’s slow. And slower. Then, sometimes, it’s slow. Generously, $0.50.

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