Child of the most unholy union of them all, its father being Chuck Norris 1980s action studio Cannon Films, its mother being Italian director Luigi Cozzi, and its costume designer being previously employed on 2019: After The Fall Of New York, Hercules stands as a monument to Italian-American cinema cooperation and proves the old adage that what Cannon Films and Italian trash directors can do horribly on their own, they can do even worse together!
Even though Luigi Cozzi wasn’t as prolific a director as some of his fellow countrymen, the projects he was involved with leave no doubt as to his abilities. He directed the messy alien horror epic Contamination. He put David Hasselhoff through his paces in the Star Wars rip-off Star Crash. And to leave no doubt as to his standing in the Italian horror community of the 1980s, he, along with Sergio Martino (The Great Alligator) came up with the story for the Italian all-star trash epic Monster Shark!
Luigi’s influence on the picture was obvious what with all the bad dubbing, Italian actors (including Goliath Against The Giants star Brad Harris!), ear damaging score, and sets whose hideousness were only rivaled by the special effects. What Cannon Films apparently brought to the movie was enough mainstream attention that Hercules was nominated for several Razzie Awards in such categories as Worst Movie, Worst Actor, and Worst Supporting Actress.
By virtue of both her roles in this movie and in Chained Heat, Sybil Danning won Worst Supporting Actress, but Lou Ferrigno lost out to Christopher Atkins for Worst Actor. Don’t feel too bad for big Lou though – he still went home that night with Worst New Star beating out a couple of dolphins from Jaws 3-D, Loni Anderson (Stroker Ace), General Hospital star Finola Hughes, and the Strike Commando himself, Reb Brown! (Reb’s nomination was obviously not for Strike Commando, but for Yor, the Hunter from the Future.)
There’s really no question that Hercules is deserving of all that recognition because it smells like a Herculean fart. Lou is without a doubt our most pumped up Hercules ever, to the point that you cringe every time he moves because you’re afraid that all his muscles are going to burst through his skin and fall out all over the cheesy sets!
The story has Hercules being created by the Gods to give balance to some evil forces at work on the Earth. The Gods then watch and periodically interfere with things to see whether good or evil will triumph. Since Luigi is saving his budget for bad special effects though, we only have three Gods bickering amongst themselves over issues of whether it was fair to save baby Hercules from plunging to his death over some giant waterfalls.
Heck, if you want to talk about fair, was it really fair to have Hercules’ dad get eaten by a bear? Fair to the bear that is! Guess what happens when Herc comes running and grunting over to the bear? The bear gets chucked clean into outer space and becomes a constellation! Can the bear help it if Herc’s dad smelled like a salmon? After all, the guy was out chopping wood all day!
When he’s not bear-chucking and burning his own house down (don’t ask), Hercules is out and about performing momentous deeds on a fairly regular basis. He’s flooding some horse stables with a river. He’s growing fifty feet tall and ripping Africa and Europe into two different continents. He even finds time for plowing fields, hefting trees, beating up soldiers, wrecking chariots, and fighting mechanical beasts that look like they were made with the insides of a clock and left over Erector set parts. You definitely are not shortchanged on feats of strength in this one!
You also won’t be shortchanged of scenes that look really fake, usually in two or three different ways. The ones I like best involve Hercules flying through space on a chariot pulled by a big rock. It gets even better when his face gets superimposed over the action so we get a double dose of Hercules!
You’ll also enjoy the laser blasts from some of the monsters and the multicolored flame sword a bad guy uses at the end. In fact the only thing that rivals the special effects in their ineptitude is the sound effects that accompany them.
All these beeps and zaps sound as if they were stolen from a Buck Rogers or Battlestar Galactica episode! You might expect that in something like Star Crash, but when you get it in an ancient world where people are still running around in togas, it’s an unexpected bonus!
There really wasn’t much else to the movie. Hercules just wanders from one chintzy set to another knocking stuff over while straining and grunting appropriately, before heading off to the next part of the soundstage he hasn’t yet wrecked.
The Incredible Lou Ferrigno (as the theatrical trailer dubs him) does his best not do anything to stink up the joint by standing around and periodically flexing, while allowing a dubbed voice to come from his moving lips. Of course, in the tradition of all great bodybuilder movie stars, he stinks up the joint just by standing around and periodically flexing. And in the even grander tradition of great sword and sandal movies, Lou would be back again as Hercules in the Luigi Cozzi directed The Adventure of Hercules!
© 2015 MonsterHunter