Hercules

Year Of Release: 1958
Running Time: 105 Minutes
DVD Released By: Alpha Video
Directed By: Pietro Francisci
Writing Credits: Apollonious Rhodios (poem: The Argonautica), Pietro Francisci (adaptation), Ennio De Concini, Pietro Francisci, Gaio Frattini
Filming Location: Italy

Starring: Steve Reeves, Sylva Koscina, Fabrizio Mioni, Ivo Garrani, Arturo Dominici, Mimmo Palmara, Lidia Alfonsi

Tagline 1: Mighty saga of the world's mightiest man!

Tagline 2: The stupendous saga of the mightiest of mortals! Half god...half pagan!

Tagline 3: See the heroic Hercules rip down the Age of Orgy's lavish palace of lustful pleasure! See the seductive Amazons lure men to voluptuous revels and violent deaths!

Alternate Titles:
Le Fatiche di Ercole (1957) (Italy)
Hercules (1959) (USA)
Labors of Hercules (1957) (International: literal title English title)

Interesting Bits of Trivia:
Steve Reeves was born on a Montanna cattle ranch in 1926. His father died in a farming accident, and at age six months, he won his first fitness title as the "Healthiest Baby of Valley County". Steve moved to California in 1936 where he loaded boxcars and trucks for the army in between his workouts at the gym. Steve won his first bodybuilding competition in 1947 when he won the title, "Mr. Pacific Coast". Steve was married to his wife Aline Czarzawicz from 1963 till her death in 1989 when she died of complications from a stroke. They had no children. Just as an aside, Steve was mentioned in the song Sweet Transvestite from the film Rocky Horror Picture Show.




Cast Of Characters
Hercules: Our hero and a really huge guy as well. Hercules is played by the legendary Steve Reeves. He's easily a head taller than everyone around him and built like a brick chicken house.

Iole: She's the daughter of Pelias and not a bad lookin' girl. Unfortunately for her, everyone else around her, and the local goat population, she drives a chariot like a modern woman drives a mini-van.

Iphitus: Big dumb muscle bound dork and the son of King Pelias. He thinks his rectal excretions don't have any odor, but Hercules shows him that he ain't as hot as he thinks he is. Unfortunately for him, by the time he gets a clue, he ends up dead.

Pelias - King of Jeloco: This guy certainly isn't gonna win any father of the year awards. He has his brother killed and then agrees to marry his daughter off to the guy he had kill his brother in exchange for him stopping Jason from recovering the golden fleece. Oh what a tangled web we weave....

Eurysteus: Now this guy just has no scruples at all. He's the type of guy that always ends up dead at the end of these kinds of movies when the hero finally catches up with him. This guy killed Pelias's brother for him, killed a woman just to steal her gold, stole the golden fleece, tried to stir up a mutiny on the Argos, and attempted to get Pelias to marry off his daughter to him so that he could take over the throne and have her as his queen. The word scumbag is coming to mind right about now.

Jason: Kiran, one of the rightful king's loyal men, rescued his son Jason and ran off with him to the isle of Crete the night the king was murdered. He raised Jason to be a king, and now that he and Hercules have teamed up to find the golden fleece, there's nothing that's gonna stand in his way. Unless you count that Amazon nookie that almost got him killed...




The Plot
Hercules is called to Jeloco to prepare King Pelias's son Iphitus for the throne he will someday hold. Unfortunately, Hercules quickly discovers that Iphitus is not only arrogant but a fool as well. Many years ago, Pelias's brother was the rightful king of Jeloco, and Pelias had the evil Eurysteus kill him so that he could claim the throne for himself. The only evidence of what had truly happened was written in blood on the back of the golden fleece by the murdered king. The murdered king had a son named Jason, and Together with Hercules and the Argonauts, Jason sets sail to recover the golden fleece, and to reclaim his rightful throne in Jeloco.



What The Hell???
1. Well during the opening credits here, the sound is absolutely horrible and jittery. Unfortunately, I have a feeling it's going to be bad all the way through. The video quality isn't great either and it looks as though the whole thing was mastered from old film stock. Kinda reminds me of how The Conqueror Of Atlantis looked. Not that these things overly affect my enjoyment of a particular movie. It's just nice to have the quality of the transfer as high as possible so as not to create distractions. None of this will affect the final rating of the movie.
2. So in the first scene we're treated to goats...lots and lots of goats. There's also a guy in a skirt playing the pan flute. Goats...guy in a skirt...pan flute. I can already tell that this movie is going to seriously rock!
3. Oh man, now a woman comes screaming along on a chariot totally out of control. She scares away all the goats, and rides along the edge of a steep cliff where at any moment she could fall to her death. I guess women couldn't drive worth a hoot back in ancient Greece either. Fortunately a man comes to her rescue, but not just any man. It's Hercules! I guess that would make this woman Iole. I hope that after Iole and Hercules hook up, she lets him do all the driving. I don't think the local goat population can take much more of her.
4. Hercules takes Iole out of the chariot, and naturally she's passed out. How come when ever a woman goes through something traumatic in these kinds of movies, the first thing they always seem to do is pass out? Actually, passing out is usually the second thing. The first thing is usually screaming. Lots and lots of screaming. Anyway, he walks her over to the edge of the cliff and you can see the ocean and the beach down below. He stands there holding her and staring down at the beach like he's wondering if he should throw her over or something. I have a feeling that by the end of the movie, he might just wish he had.
5. What is this? A kung-fu movie? The words totally don't match the lips. Actually this, like so many others, is an Italian sword and sandal type movie. I dare any of you to find an Italian movie that has an english language track where the words actually match the lips. Even if the actors were speaking English in the first place, they never match.
6. Hercules is talking to Iole on the beach when suddenly he sniffs in the air and then goes running off. I thought Iole farted or something, but then we come to find out that Hercules had a big hunk of meat cooking over an open fire when all this other stuff happened and he forgot it was there. He went running over to it thinking it had burned, but when he got there, he came to find out that it was only well done. So Iole comes walking over, and Hercules, being the nice man that he is, offers her a bite of his meat. She didn't want to taste his meat at first, but he finally convinced her and she took a little bite. This made Hercules happy so he offered her some more of his meat but she didn't want any more so he decided that he'd go ahead have some of his own meat. He told her, "I'll start where your lips have touched," and then he took a big bite of his meat. I knew this movie was gonna rock!
7. Iole and Hercules were talking while Hercules was fixing her chariot. She went into this whole long winded story about how when she was younger a lot of stuff happened and yada yada yada and then her uncle the king was dead and the golden fleece had been stolen. Hercules says that he heard that the king's brother Pelias, her father, was the one who killed him. She gets all uppity and denies it saying that he couldn't do such a thing. He offers to take her back home since he is unable to fix her chariot and she accepts. Only, I couldn't see anything wrong with the chariot really except that one outside panel on one of the wheel spokes had come off. I think he just didn't wanna see her drive that thing again. For a muscle man, he's pretty smart.

8. Damn Steve Reeves is tall. He's at least a full head taller than everyone else in this movie so far.

9. So Hercules come into the palace just as some creepy, although interestingly sexy, oracle chick is finishing up giving her rendition of what sounds like an Edgar Allan Poe story. She told Pelias to beware of a man who comes to him wearing one sandal. When Hercules comes walking in they play a strange sound and the camera shot goes to his feet. He's got sandals on both his feet so I'm not sure what the point to that was. Iphitus asks Hercules in a snotty voice how come if he's almost a god, that he's not invisible. Basically Iole tells him to shut the hell up, only not in so many words. If I was Hercules, I would have just bitch slapped the guy and been done with it.
10. Pelias tells Hercules that he wants him to reinforce his city of Jeloco and to train Iphitus to rule. He says that if he finds that Hercules is loyal, that he will give him anything he wants out of Jeloco. As an afterthought, he wants to make sure that Hercules is not an imposter, so Iphitus decides to test him. He goes over to a rack full of thick iron spears, grabs one, and tosses it to Hercules. Hercules catches the spear, bends it in half, and tosses it back to Iphitus. Iphitus tries to bend it back out but can't budge it. This is enough to convince Pelias. Frankly, if I was Iphitus though, I'd re-think my snotty attitude towards Hercules. Otherwise, he may just find himself bent in half. Funny thing is though, snotty idiots like Iphitus couldn't get a clue even if you were giving them away for free. Basically, Pelias wants Hercules to protect the throne until Iphitus is ready to take it. I guess Pelias isn't good at getting clues either. Iphitus is a jerky idiot.
11. Pelias heads back to his room and find Eurysteus waiting for him. Eurysteus was the prisoner from Iole's story earlier in the movie that had killed a woman and stole her money. This is the first you're hearing of him because he was in the yada yada yada part of Iole's story in WTH??? #7. Anyway, Pelias had spoken to him briefly that day when they came upon him being led by the soldiers to his death. Apparently, he didn't die. Pelias hired him to kill his own brother and steal the golden fleece. Man, I'd hate to be a king back in the old days. Those guys probably only a life expectancy of a few years at best what with everyone plotting against them and all.
12. Now we're taken to some kind of a training area outdoors where there's all kinds of olympic type training going on. Everyone is crazy about Hercules and they all want to be just like him. One kinda skinny guy even pole vaults up to where Hercules is standing with two other guys and says that he just wanted Hercules to notice him. Hercules offers to take the young man under his wing and teach him how to fight. Well about this time Iphitus shows up for his training riding in on a chariot and disrupting everything like the jerk that he is. Everyone leaves except for Hercules and the young man who both go down to greet Iphitus. The king and several high advisors are all there to watch Iphitus's training, so Hercules has him take a bow and try to hit a target a long distance away which he obviously can't do. He hits the target but he's way off center. Hercules tells the ticked off Iphitus that even a boy like the young man standing next to him could hit the target with a little skill and intelligence. I can see where this is going and Iphitus isn't going to be happy about it. Which is fine, 'cause he spends most of his time acting like a spoiled little bitch anyway. A little humiliation will be good for him don't you think?
13. Oh man. Iole just rode up in her chariot. She didn't even run over any goats or anything this time. She showed up just in time to see Hercules showing the young man how to aim the bow. Naturally he got a bulls eye which irritated Iphitus to no end. We come to find out now that the boy's name is Ulysses. No wonder he was so good with the bow.
14. I didn't know this, but when someone like Hercules throws a discuss, it makes a sound like a flying saucer from a 50s B-Movie. How cool is that?

15. Back at the city, we find out that some lion has returned and killed a bunch of people. Hercules takes off immediately and Iphitus follows him. They start arguing and then the lion shows up. Iphitus's horse get's spooked and Iphitus falls off it and is attacked by the lion. Hercules drags the lion off him and strangles it to death. Iphitus watched Hercules kill the lion and then died himself. He didn't look like he was hurt all that bad. In fact, there were several shots where he sort of looked like graham chapman from Monty Python.

16. Pelias is all upset because Iphitus is dead. Heaven forbid he see that Iphitus's own stupidity caused it. So he charges Hercules with fighting the Cretan Bull. Iole is crying and doesn't want to speak to Hercules now, and in fact, everyone around the square leaves like Hercules did something wrong. If I was Hercules, I'd just destroy all these people and be done with this.
17. Hercules goes to the oracle Sybil. He insists that he wants to be human instead of a god and give up his immortality so he can experience love and have a family and what not. What an idiot! If I was a god I sure as hell wouldn't give it up. Anyway, his wish is granted and he's made mortal and he heads off to fight the Cretan bull. After he kills the bull by bonking it on the head, he follows Jason to a cave where he's taking care of Kiran. Kiran was accused of Killing the King of Jeloco and he and Jason were forced to flee to this place. Unfortunately, he was attacked by the bull and now lies dying. He tells Hercules to return Jason to Jeloco where he can take his rightful place on the throne since he was the son of the murdered king. Now frankly, if I was Hercules, I'd wanna get paid or somethin' for all this. I mean seriously, what's get getting out of any of this except beat up?
18. Uh oh, Jason's sandal just broke as they were crossing the river. He's the guy with one sandal. Now it all makes sense. Too bad Pelias gave an order that any man coming to Jeloco wearing only one sandal would be put to death immediately.
19. Pelias insists that Jason prove his claim that he's the rightful heir to the throne. One of the senators says that they must retrieve the golden fleece to prove that he is who he says he is. This is where the whole Jason and the Argonauts thing comes in. Eurysteus arranges to be on the boat so he can kill Jason. In return for this he wants to marry Iole and rule Jeloco with her. Pelias is angered by the idea but goes along with it anyway. Is he a great dad or what? Extra goodies for him on father's day huh?
20. After a fierce storm the men on the Argos want to mutiny. Hercules puts a stop to it and figures out that it was Eurysteus that's been spreading dissension amongst the crew. He manhandles him a bit and tells him that it's going to be his responsibility to make sure that while they're on shore getting provisions, that it's going to be his job to make sure everyone else stays on board and that there's no trouble. He caves like the little bitch that he is.
21. Once they get on the island where they stopped to re provision, Jason and his group and Hercules and his group split up to look for food. Jason and his people just got jumped by a horde of attractive, though mean looking women. Take me right back to The Conqueror Of Atlantis. Heracles and his buddy got jacked by a bunch of weapon toting women in that movie too. Except these women, just shot four arrows into four of the men's spears, while they were holding them! Now that's a neat trick! The men were happy to drop their arms after that display believe you me.
22. Turns out these are the Amazon women of legend. Only women live in this place. Any men who come here are apparently used as love slaves and then killed. I can think of worse ways to die. Oh actually, Antea, the queen of the Amazons is telling these guys that all their men went up the mountainside and were killed by an earthquake. Apparently, after all the men were killed, the women that were left behind were ravaged by some seafaring men that happened upon the island. After that they formed into an army and were never treated that way by men again. You know, for a tribe of women that supposedly hates men, they all seem pretty happy to see these guys. The guys seem pretty happy too. Gee, I wonder why?
23. All of a sudden, Jason's in love with the queen and they're having this big dramatic love scene together. Am I the only one who finds that a little strange?
24. Ulysses sneaks into the food grotto and hears the oracle women talking to Queen Antea. They tell her that she must kill all of the men the next morning. Ulysses runs to the old man of the crew and asks him what he would use to put someone to sleep. He recommends poppy seeds in wine, so Ulysses runs and grabs up a lot of poppy seeds. Then we're treated to a feast scene in the Amazon's grotto where women are dancing in their nightgowns. The men are all drinking wine and getting drunk. I guess everyone drank the wine that Ulysses drugged because they're all passed out in the grotto now. Somehow I feel like I'm losing track of something here but I'm not sure what. All the men just sneaked off the boat to hang out with the Amazons except for Eurysteus. What's that little bastard up to now?
25. Hercules, Ulysses, and one other guy started carrying people out of the cave. Hercules came out packing like four of them. They ran into the men from the ship coming over to see the Amazon women and Hercules chased them around with a big club and kicking them in the butts to make them come along and carry the rest of the men out of the grotto. They sail out at dawn, but the women come to the shores to temp them back. Fortunately Hercules drives them on and makes them go to the oars. He starts beating on a drum with his club to get them to row harder. If you watch, while he's beating on the drum with the club, a piece of the club breaks off and goes flying up in the air.
26. The crew finally makes it to the island they were traveling to and find themselves suddenly attacked by the cast of Quest For Fire. Dunno where the hell all these nasty lookin' cavemen came from all of a sudden, but they were no match for the Argonauts. During the fray, Jason ran off on his own to find the golden fleece. It was hanging in a tree and when he climbed up on this mound to get it, the mound started moving and it turned out to be a big dinosaur. So the dinosaur get's up and attacks Jason, and what kind of sound does it make? Why, it's the same sound Godzilla makes!!! Only it's pitch shifted down a bit to avoid copyright infringement I guess. Jason kills the dinosaur by throwing a spear into it's mouth.
27. When Jason grabs the fleece, there's writing in blood on the back of it. His father wrote on it that it was Pelias that killed him. Unfortunately when they get back to Jeloco, they discover the fleece has been stolen and that Eurysteus is gone. Hercules goes to the palace and confronts Pelias and Eurysteus as they stand in the palace with the golden fleece. Unfortunately for Hercules, he happened to be standing on a trap door while he was confronting them and Eurysteus triggered it and dropped him on his head. Man, some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed. Hercules seriously needs to start getting paid for all this.
28. Oh smooth. Iole and her handmaiden sneak into Hercules cell and find him unconscious. Like the idiots they are, they didn't watch the door and it closed behind them and latched. Meanwhile, Pelias accused Jason and his men of being traitors and a big fight ensues. Hercules finally comes to his senses down in his cell and busts these huge chains loose that he's shackled to the wall with and busts out the door like a mad man. He kills Eurysteus by wrapping one of the big chains around his neck and then joins the fray in the throne room, handin' out a big chain bitch smackin' to anyone who gets in his way. While all this is goin' on, Pelias drinks some poison and confesses to Iole before he dies. Outside, Hercules tears down the front of the palace with his bare hands to drive away the king's reinforcements. That seems like a bit of overkill and showing off to me, but hey, what do I know.
29. Now it's the end of the movie. Jason is king and Hercules and Iole sail off on the Argos in search of further adventures. What a happy ending. I think I might even cry. Yes, wait, there's a tear. It's coming...it's coming...almost there...um...nope, it went away. Oh well, it's still a happy ending.



Best Quote

Hercules: "I will start where your lips have touched."
Iole: "Why how dare you be so audacious!"
Hercules: "I'm too hungry to help it."

 

- The interaction between Hercules and Iole after he offers her some of his meat. - (Reviewer's Note: I'm sorry but this scene was just seriously funny. Yes you can see the video clip below.)




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

Hercules
Hercules offers Iole some of his meat.



The Conclusion

While I had heard about these Steve Reeves Hercules movies in the past, I had never actually seen one before. Although the jittery sound, the bad quality of the film transfer, and the fact that it looks like this should have definitely been done in widescreen might have detracted from the enjoyment of this film, it really didn't. I will admit that the lack of a widescreen transfer left me often times feeling like I was missing out on something that was happening off to the side though, especially in the one scene when Hercules is helping Iole out of her chariot. They're almost entirely off the right side of the screen.

Nitpicking aside however, the film itself is actually quite enjoyable. Steve Reeves makes a great Hercules, and the guy is just freakin' huge which makes the whole thing a lot more believable. Everyone for the most part in this film did a great job with the acting and really gave this film the kind of a feel that you would expect from these early Italian sword and sandal movies. I think the one thing that would have given the film a better feel to me was if the dinosaur monster had been done a little better. There are only two real monsters in this film - the dinosaur thingy that Jason had to fight to get the fleece back, and the cavemen that attacked them on the island. The cavemen were actually quite well done, but the monster that attacked Jason looked cheap and the battle was far too short. Anyone who's ever seen a Godzilla movie will instantly recognize the roar of the dinosaur monster as well.

There were times in this movie when I almost felt like I was losing track of what was going on because they kinda jumped a bit and it felt like maybe I didn't see something I should have. This only happened once or twice though, and as the scenes played out, all was explained.

All in all, I found this movie to be a very enjoyable and fun experience. The story was there and the acting was there to back it up. Anyone who's a fan of sword and sandal type movies should definitely check out this piece of classic film history.

B-Movie Central's Rating: 4 Bees

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