Could this flick bring him fully formed to Box Office Gold as if sent by Olympus itself? Might Lou outshine Arnie and take his place amongst the best? Is the governorship of Cally-Fornya in his future? Nah! Alas, Alack! Unfortunately for Lou (and I'm a fan) his foray into godhood was produced by Golan-Globus and released by The Cannon Group. If Conan was cheesy, Hercules is comprised of the holes in said cheese.
How bad is it? It feels like a pilot for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers but without the nuanced subtlety or maturity that made that show accessible to six year olds.
This is all the more surprising in that Hercules was credited to writer/ director Lewis Coates, a pseudonym of Luigi Cozzi, the man responsible for Starcrash, Alien Contamination and Nosferatu in Venice. Yep, this is yet another Italian-Made US Release masquerading as an A-Movie (it was even featured, and panned, on major 80's Film Criticism shows) and bombing soon after. It's clear that Cozzi and the rest of the crew had more than just Conan in mind, but a heaping helping of Clash of the Titans too, albeit on a much smaller budget.
In a Mock-Epic intro sequence that takes place in outer space, we're told that "Pandora's Jar" has shattered, creating the heavens and the Earth, the gods of which have settled on the moon up to the point that Zeus (Claudio Cassinelli in a really bad wig and fake beard) sent his son Hercules to Earth to... apparently fight poorly animated robots and cop feels on scantily clad Italian women.
During his rocky childhood, Jerkules loses two sets of adoptive parents to the forces of evil (the second of which reminds one of Luke's discovery of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru in Star Wars) and sets out on a task of impressive deeds and noble quests, including, but not limited to the creative and fast cleaning of a stable. I didn't make that up. His custodial mastery has wooed the lovely Cassiopea (Ingrid Anderson) whether the gods and goddesses like it or not.
Unfortunately for Herkie, things aren't all Milk and Honey, as the Evil King Minos has set his sites on seeing him pushing up the Legendary Daisies. Interestingly enough, King Minos looks almost exactly like the Burger King from those TV Commercials! How fitting that they chose William Berger to play him. Luckily, Minos has more than just fry cooks in his corner. His allies include Hera (Rossana PodestÓ), Dedalos (well known transsexual Eva Robbins) and the lovely and scantily clad Ariadne, played by the amazing Sybil Danning.
Luckily, however, Hercules isn't alone either, as the wonderfully aerobicized and eroticized sorceress Circe (played by Mirella D'Angelo gives him a leg up in his quest to rescue hottie Cassiopea from the evil clutches of the Fast Food Emperor.
Along the way, Hercules repeatedly throws objects (and people in animal suits) into outer space, creating constellations and runs into a plethora of beautiful women. I'm not joking about that last part either. Whoa! To keep this kid safe they do make sure that the nipples are covered by Pasties, though.
He also goes through a series of strange rituals and Clashes with a multitude of Titans. However, each one of these from the Hydra to the Centaur (complete with one Cyclops eye) has been "updated" for the post Star Wars era into stop motion robots. I wish I was kidding, but I'm not. The site of Lou Ferrigno using a stick to fight a flying robot the size of Air Force One is absolutely hilarious, particularly when it's lit by every cheap optical effect the Cannon Group could get their hands on (you should see what they did in Superman IV... actually, no, you shouldn't). If this isn't cheesy enough, the fight sequences against actual people are almost as ticklish.
From Minos' flaming light saber to Zeus' claymation hand, this is an experiment in cheesy special effects. Silly animation and repeated lighting effects (particularly during each "death" scene) don't help either. Well... actually, they kind of do help. They all add up to make Hercules a laugh fest, and a must see at that. Seriously, folks, this one is unintentionally funny to the Nth degree, and one can hardly help feeling a little bad for laughing at this one (particularly in that Ferrigno is such a likeable guy), but for better or for worse, Hercules works best in its considerable Irony. First Lou stared in Pumping Iron... now, Pumping Irony. Too bad it wasn't intentional.
Sheesh, what a bad movie. My favorite part is Herkie and Circe's outer space chariot journey that begins when Herc ties a rock to the chariot... and throws it. Either that or his King Kong like growth to terraform Europe and Africa. Either that or...
Man, I can't go on. There's so much to love about Hercules for ALL the wrong reasons! From Cozzi's mixing of myth to his liberal pilfering of similar predecessors (a trait that marked most of his career) this one is a predictable (but never boring) bad, bad film. The only real surprise is that after its critical lambasting and box office bombing, a sequel followed two years later featuring much of the same cast.
Boils and Ghouls, this one is truly a fun bad movie that belongs right up their on your shelf (dare you buy it) with Plan 9 from Outer Space and Yor the Hunter from the Future! But fun for the wrong reasons or not, Hercules a "modern" myth that reaches for the stars gets no stars out of Five. Instead, it gets a Dog. I'd call it Cerberus, guardian of Hell, but Cozzi in his infinite wisdom replaced Cerberus with the Three-Headed Robotic Hydra. Man, that sums up the whole anti-charm of this corn fest. "Three-Headed Robotic Hydra"! I'd say it couldn't get any cheesier, but wait until you see that sequel. Holey Macaroni, Mr. Cozzi, that one takes the proverbial cake.
See you in the next mock-mythic reel. If you dare.
This Link is the Three Headed Robotic Guardian
Of More Reviews.
Dare you battle it in its optically enhanced stop-motion might?