Another one in the extraordinary “Hercules” series, bringing the sensibilities of the World Wrestling federation to the silver screen years before the latter was even thought of. This film stars Reg Park who made several Hercules appearances before vanishing into obscurity and appears to have had a relatively high budget, being shot in the then unusually glossy 70mm format and showing an immense amount of detail in the sets, props and costumes. If not most of the performances.
The script is non existent and here is the main problem of the movie. Not a great deal happens. The evil queen is all very well looking extraordinarily hot in every scene she’s in but man cannot live on pulchritude alone and though the movie works as one set piece after another, there’s nothing much else to it. However, the set pieces are all extremely well produced and there is the typical sense of fun that characterises films of this type and era. Hercules, upon arriving in Atlantis is dragged by the aforementioned evil queen with a love potion. This seems to happen to him a lot, you think he would learn.
The direction is inventive, stylish and surrealistic, mixing and juxtaposing apparently oddly chosen images to give a sense of psychedelia that you would expect from a film made seven or eight years later. The same goes for the lighting design which perfectly compliments the almost Fellini esque mood of some of the shots and servers to enhance the richness of the settings, which genuinely are epic. In fact its is the design that is the real star of the film although the cast toil manfully (and sometimes womanfully) with the stilted and OTT dialogue and the admittedly perfectly judged almost comic strip action scenes.
Actually, the cast know exactly what they are doing and pitch their performances appropriately. Aside from Reg, special mention should go to Fay Spain as the Queen with the relationship problem, Ettore Manni as Androcles (didn’t he have something to do with a lion?) and Laura Efrikan as Iseme. The movie as a whole is dated and ridiculous and utterly entertaining , as well as being a very good piece of filmmaking. Movies like this can be great distractions so if you have something on your mind, sit down for a slice of prime escapism, with a side order of ham.
Or maybe that should be the other way around…
Director: Vittorio Cottafavi
Cast: Reg Park,Fay Spain,Ettore Manni,Luciano Marin,Laura Efrikian