Wednesday, February 20, 2008

PD Project Part 5

Behold: Hercules!
Or don't. You know. Whatever.

Sci-Fi50

    Disc 5
  • Hercules Against the Moon Men (1964) runtime: 1:26:13

    Hercules is summoned to defeat the mountain-dwelling monsters that are oppressing the people of Samar, but Queen Samara has her own deal with the monsters and opposes Hercules' meddling.
    Part of the Queen's deal with the moon men is to let them sacrifice her sister to resurrect their queen. Hercules is curiously slow to stop the kidnapping of the Queen's sister preferring to use subterfuge to defeat the threat because, yeah, that's what Hercules is known for, his exquisite mind. Hercules is actually kind of heroic in this one--mostly because he's not invincible. He takes risks for principled purposes. And the movie has some nice action sequences--almost all ruined by the pan-and-scan. There is one odd plot point. Herc has to drink a mind-control potion. Rather than pretend to drink it or switch the cups, he's simply unaffected with no real explanation. Honestly though, there are only two things to watch this movie for: the sandstorm sequence (Deep Hurting for all the MST3K fans) and the line, "Under the evil influence of Uranus." So funny.
    Archive.org page
    Wikipedia article
    This was episode 0410 of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and can be purchased as part of The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 7.

  • Hercules and the Captive Women (1961) runtime: 1:34:03

    The kingdom of Thebes is menaced by an unknown enemy so the King sets out with Hercules to defeat the threat. Their quest uncovers the hidden kingdom of Atlantis, but there is strange doings afoot.
    These films neither translate nor age well, which is a shame. Even with the dreadful pan-and-scan you can tell these used to be splendid epics--visually stunning and sumptuous.
    This one has a long opening and, in general, is campier than Moon Men above. The odd this is the film is patently ridiculous and then gets good. The plot moves from silly to epic and action-packed. All the sub-plots, so awkwardly introduced, end up being relatively nicely resolved. I should be making fun of this movie, but honestly, MST3K's pretty much covered it. This would almost be worth watching in widescreen if that were in any way an option.
    This film was public domain, but is now actually back under copyright, which sucks: V8004P757/1997-01-21. There are still copies out there though.
    Archive.org page
    This was episode 0412 of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and can be viewed on YouTube (in 10 parts) or downloaded from the Digital Archive Project.

  • Hercules and the Tyrants of Babylon (1964) 1:25:07

    After a three-year absence, Hercules returns to find his home conquered by the Babylonian empire and his queen enslaved. He must free her before the three rulers of Babylon find her and use her to their own evil purposes.
    Herc doesn't have a beard in this one and his weapon of choice is a giant club. The overall effect is to make him look like a college-bred caveman. Not my favorite Hercules. He simply doesn't look, well, Herculean. However, the movie, unlike the previous two, is pretty good throughout. It a semi-epic tale of empires whose histories will be shaped by Hercules' actions rather than being all about Hercules. I have to wonder if that isn't exactly what makes the movie good.
    I am in the process of adding this film to the Internet Archive right now.
    Wikipedia article

  • Hercules Unchained (1959)

    Hercules returns to Thebes to find the land on the brink of civil war. While trying to deliver a treaty to prevent the war, Hercules drinks from the fountain of forgetfulness and is ensnared by the evil Omphale who plans to kill him and turn him into a statue for her garden.
    Most random Hercules movie yet. Nothing that happens in this movie has anything to do with anything else. It's so random as to be nigh-dada. The only character that does anything that ties the disparate elements together is Ulysses, friend of Hercules. He's the one who figures out what' happening and takes action to save the day. I think MST made fun of this one for Hercules always taking a nap. I think he was trying to lead by example.
    I am in the process of adding an MPEG of this film to the Internet Archive right now.
    AVI Archive.org page
    Wikipedia article
    This was episode 0408 of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and can be purchased as part of The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 7.

I'll be back next time with Disc 6: four more films including two about perils faced by stranded peoples, a spaceship coming to destroy the Earth and Brandon Lee in a film that will destroy your mind! Sadly only two are PD.

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