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HERCULES

     

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, March 16, 2018

EDITOR’S NOTE: The character of Hercules has been filmed almost as many times as Dracula or Sherlock Holmes. And this version may be the worst, which is saying something. But the Shout! Factory has nonetheless given the film a Blu-ray upgrade, so here’s my Aug. 29, 1983, Deseret News review.

See a man throw a bear into outer space!

See giant robots felled by boulders and logs!

See a woman wearing seashell pasties and little else!

See mobs of people at the box office demanding refunds!

But don’t see “Hercules” unless you need a good laugh. Or a bad one.

“Hercules” is the most idiotic, ridiculous, muscleman movie since … well, since “Yor, the Hunter From the Future,” a whole week ago. The big difference between that film and that one, however, is that “Hercules” stars two “name” actors — Lou Ferrigno and Sybil Danning.

Billed in the ads as “the incredible Lou Ferrigno,” the star is best known as TV’s “The Incredible Hulk.” And though he’s not green here, the idea is much the same. As Hercules, he throws things around a lot. But it’s the audience that turns green.

     

                           Lou Ferrigno, 'Hercules'

Sybil Danning may be recognized for numerous film appearances in which she also does much the same thing as she does in “Hercules” — that is, she shows a lot of cleavage and little talent.

“Hercules” begins with the creation of the world through all sorts of laser-light special effects when Pandora’s jar is broken in space. Then Zeus, looking for all the world like Santa Claus with a crown, creates the baby Hercules, whose beginnings here more resemble Moses.

Eventually, Hercules grows up and shows off his muscles by uprooting trees, beating up a giant grizzly (as laser lights and blipping noises shoot from his fists) and acting as the family plow horse.

His eventual destiny is the typical “quest” plot, but here, despite his being in ancient Greece, he battles all kinds of evil in the guise of video game effects.

Obviously the filmmakers want it all: Greek mythology, sci-fi technology, monsters … in fact, the only thing they seem to have forgotten, is the same thing all these films lack — an intelligent script.

     

            Sybil Danning, Lou Ferrigno, 'Hercules'

This is epic filmmaking on the cheap: dime-store special effects, stilted acting, dumb dialogue and choppy editing. It’s a wonder movies like this get made, much less released.

But there are a few laughs, unintentional though they be. A serious voice-over narrator intones: “In the cosmic chess game of the gods, this was yet another move. … ” A chariot takes Hercules into outer space, propelled by a rock he has thrown.

And my favorite: at one point, Zeus interferes with Hercules’ life by rescuing a boat from a waterfall. His wife nags at him to put it back. So he does, in calm water. Sheepishly, Zeus looks at her and says, “You didn’t say where to put it.”

“Hercules,” rated PG for some bloody violence and partial nudity, is barely acted by Ferrigno, amateurishly written and directed by Lewis Coates (“Starcrash”) and will be overpriced when it’s shown on television for free.

Steve Reeves — where are you when we need you?