If you’re watching Alan Steele (Zorro contro Maciste) in this movie and wondering just where it was that he learned how to pose and wear his leather gauntlets with so much authenticity, it’s because he apprenticed under the very best in the beefcake business.
Beginning his strongman training under Steve Reeves as a stand-in on several of Steve’s films, Big Al had a chance to see up close how best to grunt and strain and to topple stone columns, bend impossibly strong bars, and uproot and heave fake trees at opposing armies of mini-skirted soldiers.
Al no doubt was also tutored in the proper application of bronzer so that he would glisten in every scene, yet not be so soaked that he left a noticeable stain on either the props he leaned against or the characters that bear hugged him during bar fights.
Imitating your idol though can sometimes lead to some questionable choices as well. Case in point with Mr. Steele is his desire to emulate Steve’s hair. While Steve was the very picture of ancient male vigor with his thick, dark mane and well groomed beard, Al is afflicted either with hair or a wig that doesn’t lay on his skull in a convincing manner. It appears to have somewhat of an orange tint, as if someone tried to match it with his skin tone, but even worse than that is that this thing adds about three inches in height to his already funny looking head.
Alan may be ripped from the neck down, but his close-set beady eyes and dimwitted, but good-natured expression make you wish his character had been undercover as a mysterious masked warrior for the duration of this particular adventure.
Herc’s goofy mug turns out to be the only major problem this intoxicating mix of muscle, mayhem, and moon men suffers from as director Giacomo Gentilomo once again demonstrates the same deft touch he had on Goliath and the Vampires.
Giacomo understands that we want to see our oiled up he-men battle monsters and damage lots of rickety sets, not slap around a bunch of losers riding horses and dressed in furs. To be sure, there are times in this movie that Herc has to unload on guys with swords and spears, but like any great fighter, it’s good to get a healthy work out in before the main event.
Like a champion shadow boxing in the locker room before hitting the ring to knock some sense into some pretender with more hype than hurt behind him, Hercules works himself into a nice lather on the crooked palace guard before mounting his assault on the Mountain of Death where the head Moon Man and his army of rock monsters are holding a princess with the intention of sacrificing her to revive their own queen.
The movie effortlessly hits all the sword and sandal cliches we’re desperately hoping for as we witness Hercules escape death traps, swing from rafters, throw guys into barrels, tip over pagan idols, and almost get seduced by the evil queen.
The movie goes the extra mile of giving us some nice loving close ups of Herc’s smooth, gleaming and heaving chest as he strains to do this or that, while smartly limiting a good deal of his dialogue to a nice variety of grunts, groans, and guffaws.
There’s a nominal love interest along for the ride and some of the locals rebel, but they only serve to slow things down. (Especially near the end when they’re blundering around in a sand storm.)
If I had a real complaint about this sci-fi tinged mission of Herc’s though, it would be that we didn’t get nearly enough moon men action! It took all movie for Herc to get a match with them and then when it finally happened, it left me wanting more!
Though the rock monsters were pretty cool lumbering around and using their unique powers (they all close in on a person and crush them), they didn’t last more than a few minutes against Hercules! That may be more an endorsement of the sheer studliness of Alan Steele than it is an indictment of the rock monsters’ wimpiness though.
Easily recommended and joins Goliath and the Vampires and Hercules in the Haunted World (still the standard to judge the rest by) as the supernaturally-flavored peplum flicks that deliver the pumped up virility fans of muscle-stud movies demand in between workouts and roid rages.
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