Hercules Unchained

Year Of Release: 1959
Running Time: 105 Minutes
DVD Released By: Alpha Video
Directed By: Pietro Francisci
Writing Credits: Aeschylus (play: The Seven Against Thebes), Ennio De Concini (screenplay), Pietro Francisci (screenplay), Sophocles (play: Aedipus at Colonus)
Filming Location: Italy

Starring: Steve Reeves, Sylva Koscina, Sylvia Lopez, Gabriele Antonini, Primo Carnera, Patrizia Della Rovere, Sergio Fantoni, Mimmo Palmara

Tagline: See the mammoth war of the chariots!

Alternate Titles:
Ercole e la regina di Lidia (1959) (Italy)
Hercule et la reine de Lydie (1959) (France)
Hercules Unchained (1960) (USA)
Hercules and the Queen of Lydia (1959) (International: literal English title)
Hercules and the Queen of Sheba (1959)

Interesting Bits of Trivia:
Steve Reeves made a very nice career for himself starring in a rather large number of Italian peplum films. Steve was born on January 21, 1926, and he died on May 1, 2000 from complications from lymphoma. Some of Steve's many bodybuilding titles included Mr. America (1947), Mr. World, and Mr. Universe (1950).




Cast Of Characters
Hercules: Our hero. But then again, I guess you figured that out since his name is in the title of the movie. It's Steve Reeves. Bigger, longer and uncut! No wait, that's a different movie. In all seriousness though, he's the hero and comes off kinda muscle bound and dumb sometimes, but he's actually pretty smart. He figures out stuff eventually. He's one of those guys where every man wants to be him, and every woman just wants him. Wish I was one of those kinda guys.

Iole: Hercules' wife who he scored in the first Hercules movie. She's even more beautiful in this one and although she tends to be more of a liability than anything else, Hercules loves her with all his heart. It's very sweet actually.

Ulysses: He's the son of King Laertes. He hooked up with Hercules in the first movie and became his sidekick. He's a smart and scrappy little guy, which is exactly what a sidekick should be. He kinda reminds me of the little dog that always hung out with the big bulldog in those old cartoons.

Queen Omphale: Oh man, this chick is the queen of the black widows. She captures guys who have lost their memory by drinking the waters of forgetfulness, tells them they're her king, makes love to them, and then when the next guy who lost his memory comes along, she has the old one killed and replaces him with the new one. She makes a great argument for one night stands.

Polinices: He's the son of Oedipus, King of Thebes. He and his brother convinced their father to give them the throne, which they would trade off each year between them. He's a greedy scumbag but he's actually preferable to his brother who's just a total sadistic nut.

Ataeocles: He's the sadistic nut I just mentioned. The brother of Polinices, he's been driven mad by power and refuses to hand over the throne to his brother. Actually, he did agree, but when Hercules and Ulysses were delivering the message and then got kidnapped half way, all hell broke loose and he ended up thinking Hercules betrayed him and then went completely nuts.




The Plot
Hercules, Iole, and Ulysses return to Attica which is Hercules homeland. Once there, they discover that Oedipus has given up his throne in Thebes to his sons who were supposed to share the throne and switch off between them from year to year. That deal has now fallen through because of Ataeocles' greed and his brother's ambition. Hercules tries to mediate the issue but ends up getting captured by the evil Queen Omphale who intends to make Hercules her latest love slave. What makes matters worse, is that before hercules was captured, he drank from the waters of forgetfulness and now has no recollection of who he is or what his mission was. Will Hercules escape from the clutches of the evil Queen Omphale in time to rescue both Thebes and his wife Iole from the warring brothers before it's too late?



What The Hell???
1. First we see some young guy getting killed at the orders of some evil redheaded queen lookin' chick after her guards bring in some guy on a stretcher. I don't know what that was about yet but I'm sure all will be made clear soon enough. During and after the credits we're taken to the Argos, where we find Hercules and Iole and Ulysses and the rest of the gang sailing back for Hercules' homeland Attica. There's a shot of the oars in the water as they're rowing the Argos. The oars are not actually oars, they're more like big wooden spikes. There's no paddle at the end of them. After this scene, they show a scene of the oars on the other side of the boat after they raised them out of the water and all those had paddles on the end. Now if the oars on one side of the boat have paddles and the oars on the other side of the boat don't, wouldn't they just go around in circles?
2. First the narrator says that hercules only left his homeland of Attica several months ago and that now he returns with his new wife and his buddies. Then after that he's talking about the crew that has been traveling with him on his adventures for the last TWO YEARS and introduces everyone. Well, which is it? A few months or two friggin' years? That's a hell of a time difference. A lot can happen in a year and eight or nine months.
3. Hercules, Iole, and Ulysses are taking leave of their friends and King Laertes, Ulysses' father, asks Iole to be like a mother to him. Then he gives Hercules two pigeons in a cage and tells him that if he ever needs him, to send one of the pigeons with a note tied to it's leg. Then he says that one day, when men realize that pigeons can be used to send messages faster than man can carry them, you will see the whole world change. Oh when I think how far we've come, it just amazes me. Pigeons...poop. Cell phones...no poop. Isn't progress wonderful?
4. Argus gives Iole a lute which was a present from Orpheus. She says she'll have to practice. This is gonna be a fun trip for Hercules and Ulysses having to listen to someone who doesn't know how to play a lute, beat on it half way to Thebes.
5. Hey, she just started playing. She's pretty damn good with that thing. She's making it sound like a harp with a whole orchestra behind it. Hey, wait a minute. She's singing along with the music, but she's lip synching worse than Milli Vanilli. The words totally don't go with the lips.
6. So Hercules is sleeping in the back now, Ulysses is driving the wagon, and Iole is up front with Ulysses. They get wagon jacked by this huge dude called Antaeus The Giant. This guy is freakin' huge. The horses heads only came up to his chest. He says he wants to take their horses and their gold. Hercules is watching from the back and calls to him to help and he just waves her off with a smile and says, "Awww, I wanna sleep." I notice he's not as pissy in this one as he was in the first one. Married life must be making him fat and happy.
7. Ok he just bitch tossed Ulysses off the cart. That's a new phrase by the way that I just made up. He tossed Ulysses about 15 feet away. Iole yells, "Hercules, he'll kill him!!!" and Hercules replies, "I'm so sleepy, I can't seem to keep awake." There's another funny line after this but I think I'm gonna save it for the quote. Man this is funny.

8. So Hercules hops out of the cart and knocks Antaeus out with three punches. Unfortunately he was only out for about three seconds and then got back up and they had a good scrappin' goin' on. So he beats him up again and again he gets up. Ulysses figures out that it's Antaeus, soon of the earth goddess. He marshals his strength when he's touching the ground. So Hercules picks his big keister up and carries him over to the cliff where he proceeds to drop him into the sea. That did it finally. Man what a pain. This was a seriously funny section of the movie though. It would almost be worth watching the whole movie just for this one scene.

9. That's odd. They stopped in the woods near a cave to rest. There were soldiers all around the outside of the cave and Hercules was puzzled by that because there was never anyone there. One of the soldiers accosted Iole and was promptly bitch tossed by Hercules. The rest of the soldiers left them alone after that. Now the odd part is, when they went into the cave, they were all laughing. I wouldn't be laughing. I'd be pretty ticked off if someone did that to my wife.
10. There's an old man in the cave. It's King Oedipus. His son is Polinices is there with him. It seems that Polinices and his brother Ataeocles convinced their father to give up the throne under agreement that each of his two sons would rule for one year at a time and then abdicate the throne to the other at the end of the year. Well, Ataeocles has decided that he doesn't want to give up the throne. Hercules vows to make the brothers live up to their pact. I swear, every place this guy goes he gets himself involved in this kind of crap. No wonder he just wanted to be mortal and normal like everyone else.
11. Hercules goes to Thebes and busts his way into the palace. Ataeocles is watching a man attempt to train a tiger. I say attempt because the guy ended up as tender viddles. Hercules talks to him about keeping his part of the pact and he gives in. Unfortunately he gave in too easily.
12. Hercules goes with Ulysses to take a message to Polinices from Ataeocles saying that he'll keep his part of the pact and turn over the kingdom. Hercules and Ulysses stop for a rest, and while Ulysses is off shooting a pheasant for their meal, Hercules drinks from the waters of forgetfulness. He goes a little nuts after that and the horses run away. Hercules thinks he hears Iole singing and starts pushing huge boulders around looking for her. Then he passes out. All of a sudden, as if they didn't have enough problems, they find themselves surrounded by a bunch of soldiers. Ulysses pretends to be a deaf mute and they get captured and taken on a ship to that evil red headed queen. As if they didn't have enough problems.
13. I see how this works now. The men that are taken by the waters of forgetfulness are captured and brought to the queen. Every time a new one is brought to her, she has the old one killed. It's a good thing she's good lookin', at least she's got that going for her 'cause her personality sucks.
14. When Hercules comes to, he goes and finds the queen and asks her what happened to him. She asks him some questions to make sure he forgot his memory and then tells him that he's the king of that land and that he's her husband. Then all of a sudden a bunch of girls in sexy outfits come out and start dancing for them while they drink wine. Sounds like a good deal to me. At least until the next guy comes along that lost his memory. Then the deal kinda sucks for the poor schmuck who's getting replaced.

15. Back at Thebes, Iole is waiting impatiently for Hercules to return. It's only been three days but she's already ready to go looking for him. Someone's a little possessive aren't they. In this case though, I think that's probably a good thing.

16. Ulysses got to keep his pigeons in his cell with him and he sent one flying out the window for help. What kind of a prison lets you keep birds in your cell with you? Oh, right...Alcatraz.
17. Ulysses just kicked over the water of forgetfulness that they've been dumping into Hercules. He gave him some regular water and tried to tell him who he was. Then he tried to get him to bend this big iron thing to convince him but Hercules couldn't bend it. What the hell's in that water? Salt peter? I guess not because he's still hot for the queen.
18. King Laertes got the pigeon with Ulysses note and takes off to help him, gathering up the crew of the Argos and setting sail right away. Man, they weren't even gone all that long and they're already calling for help.
19. Iole tried to bail and go find hercules but she got captured on the way out. Seems that Ataeocles is gettin' all paranoid and thinks that Hercules betrayed him and that she was running away to join him. You wouldn't think a guy in a skirt and sandals would be so unbalanced would you?
20. Man, Ulysses is smart. He just tied a string to the bar on his door and covered it with dirt to make it blend into the iron. Now he can pull the lever up anytime he wants. Pretty ingenious there skippy.
21. Ulysses is giving Hercules his daily massage now and he tells him about what he's seen. He found a cave where all the men that Omphale has had killed are mounted like statues. They've been preserved as human statues by some Egyptians that Omphale has working for her.
22. King Laertes and the Argonauts have arrived at Omphale's kingdom. Omphale greets them and they offer her gifts. She keeps one of the Argonauts with her claiming that she thinks they've met before. Isn't it the the guy who's supposed to use that line? Anyway, Hercules comes walking in just as the Argonauts were walking to their rooms. He didn't recognize them but at least they know he's there now.
23. Hercules finally remembered who he was and confronted Omphale. She agreed to let them go but then her guards attacked them and there was a fierce battle during which Ulysses killed the commander of the guard. Good on ya skippy. Not only are you smart, but you're turning into quite a little fighter as well.
24. After the battle, the gates had closed. They consisted of two huge stone doors that slid in from each side. After the battle, they all ran up to the doors and pushed on them trying to open them. Now how are you gonna open a sideways sliding door by pushing on it? That's just stupid.
25. Omphale just killed herself by jumping into the Egyptians preservation bath that they were using on all the men. Serves her right.
26. Ataeocles is completely insane now. Just thought I'd let you know. He's nuts. He did however send an emissary to Polinices to propose a duel between the two brothers. Just the two of them. The winner would be king and the losers army and supporters would leave Thebes. Not a bad idea. It also saves the film makers the cost of filming a huge battle scene between two armies.
27. Hercules and the gang just snuck into the city of Thebes. They didn't do that great of a job though considering they just got spotted by a bunch of guards. The guards didn't last long though. Poor guards.
28. Hercules ended up walking into the tiger arena like a big dumb dork. Well, no one ever accused him of being smart. A bunch of people pop up as the gate closes behind him and the tigers are released. He kills one, and then gets scratched up by another one but kills it as well. A third one pops out but fortunately for him, his buddies showed up and killed everyone. Ulysses caught the third tiger in the neck with an arrow and saved Hercules the trouble of having to fight the third one. Man, I want a buddy like that.
29. Iole escaped and got captured by Polinices men. Man, she just ain't got no luck either. Her and Hercules make a good couple. Polinices sub commander tries to rape Iole. He's the one who tried to accost her earlier in the movie and got bitch tossed by Hercules. She fought him off long enough for the duel between Polinices and Ataeocles to start and then he had to go. Hercules ain't gonna be to happy when he finds out what's been goin' on. Nobody touches Hercules' woman and gets away with it.
30. Ataeocles and Polinices are fighting now. These guys suck. How did either one of them ever get to be king? Ataeocles just won the fight though he took some damage too. Oops, he just collapsed too. I think he's dead. Yep, he's dead Jim.
31. What a moron. That guy who captured Iole just told Hercules who was standing on the wall of the city that he had Iole and that she belonged to him now. Good job, now Hercules has had about enough. He leads the Theban army out of the city gates riding in a really sweet chariot. Obviously he drives a chariot better than Iole. (See the review for Hercules to get the joke.) So now there's a massive battle and Hercules throws a grappling hook onto the siege towers as he's riding past them and pulling them over. He pulled one over right on top of that jerk who captured Iole.
32. So Hercules get's Iole back. Craeon, who was an advisor to King Oedipus gets to be king of Thebes, and all is well with the world. At least for the moment. Wait until Iole finds out that Hercules was scoring big time with Queen Omphale. I can see it now. All you'll see is a dust cloud behind him as he runs through the countryside, Iole hot on his heels with a club in her hand, and him screaming for the Argonauts to warm up the Argos so he can get the hell out of there. Ah married life, it's a beautiful thing.



Best Quote

"I'll show you what a boy can do!"

 

- This is what Ulysses said to Antaeus just before Antaeus bitch tossed him off the wagon. - (Reviewer's Note: Ulysses may be smart, but he ain't that tough. Wait a minute. He just tried to attack a guy that was way bigger than him about four or five times his weight. Maybe he ain't so smart after all.)




Video Clip
When prompted, enter bmovie for the username and central for the password.

Hercules Unchained
Hercules and the giant Antaeus have a talk about the state of marriage. I wish I could have gotten this whole scene in. It was hilarious.



The Conclusion

I want to say right up front that the film quality and sound on this release are far superior to that of the Hercules DVD release by the same company. I also have to say that I was a little surprised by this movie. Usually sequels aren't as good as the originals, but in this case, I actually enjoyed this movie a bit more. The acting was better, the characters were played by the same actors as in the original, and the character development was clearly improved over the first movie. You could tell the actors were far more comfortable in their roles, like they had slipped into a pair of comfortable old shoes that were already nice and worn in. The plot was there with only a couple of things that didn't make a whole lot of sense, but those things didn't have any real affect on my enjoyment of this film.

Another thing that was nice about this film is that it had a sense of humor to it, and there were many parts in this movie that were actually quite funny. It's great to watch Steve Reeves deliver funny lines, because for some reason, seeing them come out of him just makes them funnier than they otherwise probably would be. His line delivery and timing are great as well as his facial expressions and body movements. He just did an outstanding job in this film.

Ulysses, played by Gabriele Antonini, did a superb job as Hercules sidekick as well. What was nice about his role, is that it was extremely well written. They allowed him to be smart and occasionally tough, but always helpful and great to have around. His role wasn't overshadowed by Hercules at all, but instead complemented it nicely. One thing that disappointed me a bit though was the lack of monsters, or in fact anything at all that was just generally big and menacing. Hercules did get to fight a few tigers, but that was really about it. Fortunately though, that disappointment was only minor considering how good the rest of this film is, and after watching it and being thoroughly entertained, I am very happy to award this film...

B-Movie Central's Rating: 5 Bees!

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