Ursus, The Terror of the Kirghiz (1964)

Ursus, The Terror of the Kirghiz (released as Hercules, Prisoner Of Evil in the U.S.) documents an important geopolitical struggle between two tribes of grubby barbarians you never heard of.

Over in the valleys of Crapsylvania are the peaceful Cherkes. We know they are a good and decent people because their leader, Ursus, has great muscle definition and pumped up he-man hair. Their tribe also has a hot blonde chick hanging around their camp.

Then there are the evil Kirghiz who inhabit the mountain region of Turdistan. We know they are evil because their leader, Zereteli, is an ugly guy who favors wearing fur-trimmed gladiator garb. Another tip off that the Kirghiz are bad news is that there is a surly dark haired gal prowling and scheming in their palace. But mostly we know they suck because their tribe’s name sounds like a combination of a guy sneezing and a cat hacking up a hair ball.

Civil war is a brewing between Zereteli and Ursus and the slightest incident could set this tinderbox of tribal tough guys off into a conflagration that would consume the entire forest in fiery death!

And thank the Gods that it does! And double thank the gods that there is a freaking monster on the loose! And triple thank the gods that there is an evil witch hiding in a cave controlling the monster and ordering it to kill her sexy rival! This is just the sort of foreign policy crisis that will test Ursus right down to his hot white leather gauntlets!

If it doesn’t seem that Ursus actually does much in the way of anything during the movie, you’ve got to remember that this was the seventh big screen posedown that Ursus enjoyed thanks to the Italians, and one of three from 1964 alone!

Clearly, the big guy knows that not every adventure requires you to blow your delts and quads up every second. As the old saying goes, “fortune favors the bold and the bold know that pulling a muscle can cost a fortune, so why fight the witch when your busybody brother is an eager beaver who doesn’t mind running around her cave hideout after her, while you’re stumbling around the forest in bad Mr. Hyde make up?”

Could it be that the reason Ursus has never seen the monster is because he is the monster? Is there any connection between the monster and his girlfriend who he has secret trysts with in a cave with a spring-loaded hidden door?

But, if Ursus is the monster how is it that he fought the monster and got a mudhole stomped in his ass by it? And what about Kato, the golden haired lass Ursus rescued as a young girl who has no memory? Except that she recognizes the man who killed the Great Khan a decade ago!

And could Zereteli get any more icky than constantly harassing his cousin to marry him? Are these the Tian Shan Mountains or the Appalachians?

Ursus has plenty of time to contemplate such imponderables because he spends much of the movie laid up with a gut wound after wrassling the monster, but he does finally recover in time to fend off an assassin and lead an attack on Zereteli’s palace.

Ursus may have still been feeling a little rusty though because during some scenes of him fighting in the palace, the guy playing Ursus is clearly not British body building legend Reg Park (Hercules In The Haunted World), but an old fat guy with grey hair! Isn’t the stunt man supposed to be in at least as good shape as the actor he’s replacing? I was thinking that Reg’s stunt double could have used one of his own!

Owing to the fact that the ancient world was a mysterious place no mere modern mortal could ever hope to comprehend, despite the use of a bogus stand in during some scenes, there were other moments that were obviously more taxing that Reg did himself!

One time he picks up a guy and heaves him into another guy and you can see his awesome guns straining with pleasure at the task! He also rolls a fake boulder out of the way of the cave entrance and pushes another fake boulder into a dam, causing a model of the forest to flood. Finally, he gets in a few hand-to-hand reps and demonstrates why he’s the leader of Deltoid Force when he’s attacked in his tent and forces a guy to stab himself!

Director Antonio Margheriti (Jungle Raiders) didn’t do many sword and sandal epics, but he knows what us bronzer and biceps fans want. A dancing scene! It’s the peplum equivalent of stuffing a sock in your jockstrap, padding things out so that the movie appears longer than it really is. (After all, how many times can guys run back and forth to a cave before I catch on that your movie is nothing more than guys running back forth to a cave?)

Margheriti ensures the dancing sequence is typically hideous with the use of what has become known as “Hammer Pants” because of rap legend MC Hammer’s iconic use of the loose fitting trousers.

Another bout of glorious incompetence includes the noise made by the monster. It’s like a squawk from a crow on steroids. It is unsettling to be sure, but mainly because you can’t possibly imagine seeing Ursus make that noise without everyone in all of Turdistan and Crapsylvania laughing at him!

The evil witch fares no better. She suffers a rather ignominious death by slip and fall. Before that though, she reveals her plot to take over the lands for no reason other than to explain just what the hell she was doing during the entire movie. It was another of those plans that surely could have been accomplished in much easier fashion than what she described.

If you’re a witch capable of making a potion that turns men into monsters that you can control, don’t you have any powers that allow you to steal the throne that don’t involve hiding in a cave and hoping that your monster attacks eventually provoke a civil war that your side will win and that you will survive?

I suppose it just goes to show you why like good will always triumph over evil, gorgeous will always triumph over ugly. Even primitive tribes like the Turds and the Craps know that.

© 2017 MonsterHunter

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