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The Adventures Of Hercules
(a.k.a. Hercules II)
(1985)

Director: Luigi Cozzi
Cast:
Lou Ferrigno, William Berger, Carlotta Green


When it comes to reviewing movies for this web site, for the most part I first approach them with a good deal of seriousness. I realize that making a movie - any kind of movie - is a lot of hard work, so I think that it's only fair that I approach the movies with a kind of blank slate beforehand so I can judge them fairly, for better or for worse. To be a successful critic, I think you have to show your audience you don't have any prejudice so that when reading your work, they'll be likely to think, "This guy knows what he's saying." But at the same time, I think any critic will admit that there are some movies that practically beg to be mocked and made fun of right from the start. I'm talking about movies that are so bad they are good. No doubt you have come across some in your lifetime of movie watching, so you can understand why I and many other critics love the opportunity to sharpen their critical blades and jump in slashing right from the start. An unintentionally hilarious movie can really get a critic's creative juices rolling, and amuse the critic while he writes for a receptive audience. But while it's certainly a lot of fun to write about an unbelievably incompetent movie, at the same time it's interesting to think about how such movies get made, especially in this modern-day age of ours. As I've noted in an earlier review, recently the flow of so bad they are good movies being made has slowed down to almost no output at all. One reason for this seems to be that in some aspects, society has become more sophisticated and less naive. With that frame of mind in most people, screwing up so spectacularly has become much less likely.

So, if someone were to make a study about so bad it's good cinema, they would mostly have to depend on older movies. I've examined a good deal of highly incompetent movies that have tickled me, and I've made some interesting observations about them. One is with the particular people who have made these unintentionally hilarious movies - what kind of people do they tend to be? Well, for starters, many of these bad movie filmmakers are beginners at their craft. With little previous practice at filmmaking, they have a high chance of screwing up. Also, many of these particular filmmakers subscribe to the auteur theory, taking on more than one task on a film set. Few people are skilled enough to do this, so someone who does it all and refuses to listen to others has a good chance of stumbling. It's also interesting to note that a lot of these wonderfully awful movies have come from foreign filmmakers; it often seems that the chance of cinematic insanity often increases when crossing an ocean. But whether these lovable bad movies are domestic or foreign, it's also interesting to study the particular genres they cover. Art house dramas, for one thing, seem almost totally free of examples that tickle rather than convey a lesson on the human condition. Indeed, it seems that the majority of so bad it's good cinema has to do with the fantasy genre. Why is that? Well, I think it's because that when you are working with fantasy, you quite often have a free reign with what you can do. And that often leads to filmmakers running riot with the opportunity, not realizing that even with fantasy you have to establish rules and have a clear and complete vision of your fantasy world before filming starts.

Actually, I don't really think about why an incompetent movie fantasy world got that way - all I'm really wanting is that I get tickled enough by the movie so that I can have plenty of unintentional laughs along the way. When I frequented video stores in my youth in the 1980s, I would often head The Adventures Of Herculesto the fantasy sections and pick something that looked especially ripe with unintended laughs. One such movie was the 1983 Lou Ferrigno movie Hercules. You probably have at least heard of the movie or saw the video box many times when you frequented video stores. Whether you've seen or just heard of the movie, you've probably know how amusingly dopey it is. What you may not know is that two years after it was made, a sequel was made. Yes, a sequel. But unlike the first movie, which got a big theatrical and home video release, this sequel was barely released to theaters. And its home video release was also skimpy; I only found the VHS edition of the movie in just one video store out of the dozens I frequented in many cities here in Canada during my lifetime. But eventually the movie got released on DVD and Blu-Ray, so I knew there was no excuse now to allow this sequel to remain in obscurity. Besides, I was in the mood for more dopey fantasy action. Now, to the movie. The movie opens with an outer space backdrop, where we hear a narrator talking. "Long before the heavens had taken form, there existed an angel-like figure, a goddess whom the ancients called Emperia. From within her came the seed of fire and light that was to issue forth all stars, planets, and moons." A ghostly apparition starts to drift in front of and quickly away from the camera, and then explodes. Coming out of the explosion are several planets. Uh, wait a minute. In the first Hercules movie (which I rewatched before viewing this sequel), it was established that the stars, planets, and other things were created when the gigantic Pandora's Jar exploded, the pieces of which formed everything in our universe. Why are we now being told another origin story?

Well, let's move on. We then get to see the creation of the planet Earth, and after our home planet is created, we can see stars in the background through the planet. Then abruptly, the narrator tells us that the Gods (where did they come from all of a sudden?) gave life to "an earthly creature. The mightiest, the most heroic of all men- Hercules!" Cue the opening credits, which are a mix of "highlight" clips from the first movie with displays of the names of the cast and crew. However, there are two names that are missing - Cannon Films' Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus. They produced the first Hercules movie, and this sequel is also a Cannon production, so where are they? Did they have a rare burst of taste and decline to be associated with this production? Anyway, after the credits have played out, the narrator resumes talking. He tells us that after Hercules did many great deeds on Earth, he took his place on Olympus, where the god Zeus reigned in strength thanks to seven mighty thunderbolts that he possessed.  Then we are told, "But one day, foolish and envious gods stole the seven thunderbolts and unleashed the diabolical forces of evil and chaos." That's right - this movie is so cheap that we are told this instead of getting to see it. Then abruptly, we cut to action taking place on Earth. A woman in chains is being dragged to an altar for what appears to be a human sacrifice to the fire god Antius. ("The fires await her silken flanks!" cries the leader.) Shortly after she's chained on the altar, Antius makes an appearance. The special effects depicting Antius kind of look like those for the monster in the classic science fiction movie Forbidden Planet... though done with much less of a budget. Much, much less.

During the sacrifice, we see a woman hidden in the distance observing the scene. She rides off, soon meeting up with another woman. The names of the two women (who are sisters) are Glaucia and Urania. As they comfort each other, we learn that soon they may be sacrificed themselves. Urania decides to go to the "Little People" for help. ("They use cunning to survive!") Urania then travels through the night to another altar, where she prays to the Little People. A few seconds later, (and with some very bad optical effects), two small female little people appear. They tell Urania about the present unrest in the universe, including Zeus' seven thunderbolts being stolen by four other gods. Even worse, the moon is headed for a collision with Earth. But Urania is also told that she can get help from Hercules, "the son of Zeus". Uh, wait - in the first movie, Hercules was born an ordinary baby and subsequently was blessed by Zeus with mighty strength. Anyway... we cut to outer space, where we see Zeus, who has heard the cries for Hercules. Although reluctant to interfere with mankind, Zeus decides that yes, this is a job for Hercules. He calls out for Hercules, who is standing among the stars, in footage that was taken from the first Hercules movie. Not only that, but this particular footage of Hercules is so dark that his tan briefs blend in complete with the color of his skin, making him appear to have been castrated. Anyway (there are a lot of "anyways" with this movie), Hercules is beamed down to Earth, and as soon as he is materialized on the ground, we abruptly cut to a close up shot of him on a horse.

As Hercules rides through the shoddily photographed forest (with the addition of ugly colored special effect fog), he hears some kind of animal repeatedly howling. Soon, he is knocked off his horse by some of Bigfoot-like creature. A fight starts, though it's not an easy fight, seeing how the creature can jump high and do flips in the air. But Hercules soon prevails, managing to skewer the creature with a thick branch that fell off a tree. As the dead creature melts, it's never explained how it could be defeated by being stabbed when Hercules' immense punches didn't have any effect. After the creature fully melts, one of Zeus' thunderbolts appears. Hercules appears to know he's on the right track, even though previously there was no sign that Zeus told him what to do or where to go. Anyway (again!)... the four gods that originally stole the thunderbolts have seen what has happened, and they are very concerned. So they contact on Earth a human warrior named Gorus, who has demigod ambitions. They direct Gorus to the secret tomb of King Minos (the villain in the first Hercules), where it's mentioned where the ashes of the king lie. Though when the tomb is opened, they find a full skeleton. Anyway... Gorus is killed by the gods, so that his blood can bring King Minos back to life. And that's what happens, and Gorus' blood was apparently so powerful that it adds clothes to Minos as he is resurrected. When the resurrected Minos asks the gods what they want, he is told that, "Zeus has brought Hercules back to life." But... Hercules was alive, just hanging around the stars with Zeus. Anyway... Hercules has been riding along, and he soon comes across a camp site that has been raided. Out of nowhere, a hysterical Glaucia comes out, and informs Hercules that her "friend" (well, I guess siblings can be friends) Urania has been kidnapped by the slime people.

So the two make their way to "The Forbidden Valley", where Urania is being held by the slime people. When they find Urania tied up, they barely have enough time to untie her before the slime people start attacking them. And like the Bigfoot creature, these slime people can also jump high in the air and do flips. After some punching by Hercules, the three make an escape into a nearby cave. Going through the cave, they soon meet a mysterious woman named Euryale. Euryale leads the three deeper into the cavern, where they soon get to a chamber filled with very realistic stone statues. Hercules comments, "They have a very realistic look in the eye. They seem to be tense, quivering." Indeed - you can see these stone statues wobbling slightly. Euryale soon after slips away when Hercules and the two women are attacked by glowing humanoid monsters. After the monsters are defeated, Hercules tells the two women that Euryale is a Gorgon, who can turn people into stone with a deadly glance. Hercules tells the women to go on ahead, while he turns back to deal with Euryale. When he manages to confront Euryale, she soon turns into the form of the Gorgon that we are all familiar with. The effect of her is accomplished with stop-motion animation, which actually isn't too bad for a cheapie movie such as this. Though you better appreciate it while you can, because Hercules make very quick work of this challenge, swiftly chopping off Eruyale's head, which produces another of Zeus' thunderbolts.

Meanwhile, the four evil gods are concerned, not just with Hercules' progress, but for the fact that Minos is apparently ignoring them. Shortly afterwards, Hercules has caught up to Glaucia and Urania, and comments out of the blue, "I must find a way to overcome the fire monster's radiant heat!" They decide to travel to the Little People for help, and as they go through the forest, they encounter several dozen stone dolls hung up in the trees. "Hundreds of thousands!" miscounts Hercules. Hercules then momentarily wanders off, where he encounters a knight-like monster with a glowing pitchfork. Hercules again makes quick work of an enemy, and as the knight dies, Hercules exclaims to audience members who can't count, "The third thunderbolt!" Meanwhile, we find out what Minos has been up to. He has reunited with Daedalus, who helped him in the first Hercules movie. Or rather "Dedalos" - for some reason, they changed her name for this second film. Dedalos gives Minos a special sword of ice, that has the power to defeat gods. We then suddenly cut back to Hercules and the two women, who have almost reached the Little People. One of the women tells Hercules, "That's the way to the Little People. Through the ancient naos of Lacunt." (I'm not going to touch that one.) Urania goes on ahead to talk to the Little People. When she talks to them, the Little People tell her that to defeat Antius, they must have the healing secret balm of Nomankril, made of drops of water from the river Styx. To reach what they need, the Little People give Urania some special herbs. While Glaucia stays behind, Hercules and Urania promptly decide to travel to where they need to go, which is many leagues under the ocean. They eat the herbs they were given, and Hercules is promptly transformed into... well, as drive-in movie critic Joe Bob Briggs put it, "[an] underwater sperm cell". To me, it looked more like a neon jellyfish, but maybe Briggs for some reason is an expert on sperm. Anyway... that's about the first half of what happens in The Adventures Of Hercules. But I have in no means revealed everything wonderfully bad about this movie. There are many more further delights to be found in the second half of the movie. So I leave you, dear reader, to start your own quest to find a DVD or Blu-ray of this movie so you may share my experience of encountering majestic works by Bad Movie Gods.

Note: If you are curious to know the behind-the-scenes going-ons that shaped this sequel - as well as the original Ferrigno Hercules - to how they ended up, I highly recommed getting Austin Trunick's sensational book The Cannon Film Guide: Volume 1, 1980-1984

(Posted June 3, 2022)

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See also: Ator The Fighting Eagle, Quest For The Mighty Sword, Sinbad Of The Seven Seas

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