Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hercules in the Haunted World

The second I turned this on, I'm like, is this an episode of Mystery Science Theatre because it sure as hell should have been. It would have made this stinker that much more bearable. I don't want you to think, however, that Hercules in the Haunted World was a colossal waste of time, because it wasn't and I'll tell you why in just a sec. That being said, I'm not much of fan of sword and sandal epics, and much prefer them to feature either Miles O'Keefe or Harryhausen stop motion if I'm going to watch them at all. But given how this was directed by Mario Bava (it was the second picture he ever directed, fresh from giving the world Black Sunday) and was supposed to feature horror-esque elements, and because I swore to myself to not post another Franco review for at least a day or two, I gave this my full attention, and by full attention, I watched the first half and took meticulous notes, became bored, called Christian at work, received a delivery from UPS, ate a snack, and checked my email twice before the 'horrifying' conclusion. 

So, the basic gist is this - Hercules and his sidekick Theseus have to venture to Hades to retrieve a golden magic apple and then venture further in Hades some more to get some glowing stone which is supposed to restore Hercules' best girl, Dienara, to health. She's currently under the spell of her evil uncle, Lycos, played by Christopher Lee, who wants her blood so he can become king of all eternity or something. The highlights? Hercules and Theseus arrive at the garden of these damned women, the Hisparitics (sp?), because the magic apple is in this garden high up in a sacred tree. Wanna know how Herc gets the apple out of the tree? He picks up a giant stone, makes a catapult, and throws the stone into the tree, knocking the apple down. Simple, right? The women look on and remark, ooh, he's really strong! He's freakin' Hercules, of course he's strong! LOL's were had. 

Then, a rock monster attacks Theseus while he's napping waiting for Hercules to get the apple. Theseus takes a lot of naps, btw, kinda weird. The rock monster is THE best part of this entire thing. If the movie was even half filled with guys in rubber suits speaking in robotic voices trying to thwart Theseus and Hercules, I would have been a very happy girl. But alas, there is only one rock monster appearance, and of course, Hercules shows up at the last minute to save Theseus' hide. 

Which leads me to my next comment - there is no element of suspense in this movie whatsoever because we're dealing with Hercules - he's strong and immortal and damn near perfect in every way, so you know he's always going to show up and save the day. No one is ever in real danger because Hercules is on the case. I mean, everything he says isn't even questioned. He'll say some redonkulous shit and everyone just nods and agrees, like, oh, yeah, Hercules must know what he's talking about, he's the freakin' son of Zeus. Like once they get to Hades, Theseus starts cutting vines and the vines are bleeding and you hear some screams off in the distance. The explanation offered by Hercules? Oh, those are just the souls of the damned trapped in the vines. Huh? Theseus is all, like, yeah, sure, that sounds feasible. Every explanation is completely believable when offered by Hercules. All the rules they have to follow to get the apple, get the stone, do this, then do that, then this door will open and then this will please the gods and then this shit will happen and blah blah. So some of it get kinds convoluted. And nobody ever questions it. They just run around in their loin cloths and sword fight a little bit and swim and run and then (in another highlight) the horror ensues. The dead rise from their tombs, reeeeeeaaaalllly slowly, like seriously, it's five minutes of screen time, and then POW, they're out and flying around the room and you can totally see their strings, but of course, they're no match for Hercules. I get a little tired of how the man always succeeds at everything! I want to see him have just one epic fail. I need to read up on my mythology, I'm sure he fails once or twice sometime, he is half human, isn't he? 

Alright, I'm running outta time, got to be at work in ten minutes, so I'll say this in closing. The sets are fucking awesome, fake rocks, fog everywhere, they must've had like ten fog machines on the set, cobwebs, and silly fake fires. The lighting is excellent, lots of technicolor, and the ladies are pretty. This movie makes me want to get a fabulous up-do with gold snakes entwined it and wear a sheet and be really dramatic. It might not be for me, but I can totally see the merits of this movie and other movies like it. I could have used more erotica though. Or any erotica at all, really. Mmmm, erotica. 

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