The Adventures of Hercules (1985): Review

Categories: Film AnalysisHercules

It's ironic, in a really really sad way, that this movie has probably had some of the best exposure and distribution of any Italian-made movie in the post-spaghetti western era; I challenge you to find any Italian movie more readily found in the corner video store. Which, as I said, is sad, as it represents probably the absolute nadir of Italian cinema. This is, of course, a sequel to the 1983 Hercules; both films were written and directed by Lewis Coates. His mama called him Luigi Cozzi, and he's the creative force behind some of the biggest Italian b-movie turkeys, including Starcrash and Alien Contamination.

Oddly enough, Cozzi never made a zombie flick. (Does the Italian Directors Guild know of this oversight?) On the other hand, that's not too remarkable; Cozzi tends toward bright colors and flashy lights, even when their presence is both inexplicable and laughable. Here, as in Starcrash, we're treated to Star Trek-style moving star fields, with red, yellow and blue stars so bright they could be Christmas tree lights.

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(Which is probably what they are.) and the icing on the case is the set of vintage Atari 2600 sound effects which accompany these special effects.

The story, such as it is, doesn't begin until after a lengthy credit sequence which manages to edit in every special effects sequence from the first movie. Look close, folks, because these are the best special effects you're going to see; the sequel apparently had a drastically reduced budget. What is does have, though, is Lou Ferrigno, the manliest man ever to be waxed.

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He sure does look brawny, and that's about all he does -- look brawny. Occasionally he delivers a line, with bland results (of course, that's not entirely his fault -- more on that later); he also occasionally engages in hand to hand combat, with no more believable results.

So here's the story: Four rebellious gods have stolen Zeus's seven magical thunderbolts and hidden them inside monsters and creatures on earth. It's up to Hercules to find them and return them, otherwise the moon will spiral into the earth. (Huh? I dunno either.) In doing so, Hercules teams up with two sisters, Urania (the blonde) and Glaucia (the brunette), who are trying to defeat the fire mosnter

Andeus that their local high priest keeps calling forth to devour chained-up maidens. (Actually, it's more of a badly-animated spark beast. This movie is awash is embarrassingly bad animation.) Their favorite oracle, the Little People (two posterized images of children superimposed over the altar), tells them to seek out Hercules, who will help them. So they get embroiled in all of Hercules' adventures.

Which, if I were to enumerate them, would give me a raging headache. Suffice it to say that they involve the consumptive-sounding Slime People, the Glowworm People, a Medusa creature, Amazons with a Spider Queen, and of course the ill-named fire monster. In the meantime, the four rebellious gods (among whom is Hera -- guess all of Zeus's sleeping around finally pushed her over the edge) resurrect Hercules' foe from the first movie, King Minos, who then spends a lot of time laughing maniacally and spouting gibberish about how science is the key to chaos, and generally leading those gods to believe that reviving him was a poor idea.

Few things can drop the jaw more quickly than observing the final showdown between Minos and Hercules: Against the beloved starry background (thankfully the Star Trek stars have stopped streaming past), Minos turns into an outline cartoon. Hercules does the same, but in a different color. So then Minos turns into a cartoon outline dinosaur; not to be outdone, Hercules turns into a cartoon outline gorilla. Go back. Read that over again. There is no way I can convey in mere words the sheer surreal goofiness of these events. (I watched this with my two sons; in unison, a twenty-eight year old, a five year old, and a two year old said, 'Hunh?')

And then, just to see if we can top that scene, Hercules finally deals with that whole moon-earth problem. To do so, he grows really big, and stands between the two of them (I said to the five year old, 'What's he standing on?' just to see his brow furrow), and holds them apart as they try desperately to crash against each other. No, really; there's even some kind of badly-animated orange electricity arcing between the two spheres, as if gravity were somehow made visible.

An interesting sidenote; as the two are approaching each other, we are shown the destruction already going on on Earth (by means of stock footage from Atlantis, the Lost Continent). Somehow, though, Cozzi neglects to show us the sheer catastrophe caused by the sudden stop as Hercules holds the spheres apart -- not to mention the country pulverized into a hand-shaped crater.

It's a good thing that Cozzi makes everything so sparkly and colorful, though, because those sparkles are notably absent from the script. Remember my earlier comment about Ferrigno's flatline acting skills? To be fair, John Gielgud couldn't make these lines believable, nor could Bruce Campbell bring them to life. If someone told me that the screenplay had been written over a long weekend by a seventh grader who had recently discovered classical mythology, I'd believe it.

What brings The Aventures of Hercules lower on the Fun-O-Meter for experienced b-movie watchers than, say, Starcrash, is the lack of social context. Starcrash has b-movie icons (Caroline Munro), noted actors in the shallows of their careers (Christopher Plummer), and a young nobody who would probably regret this early entry on his resume for years to come (David Hasselhoff). The Adventures of Hercules has only Lou Ferrigno, and let's face it -- his real claim to fame is more as a prop than as an actor. The rest are unknown Italians -- and we all expect them to show up in movies like this, right?

Updated: Feb 22, 2024
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The Adventures of Hercules (1985): Review. (2024, Feb 16). Retrieved from

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