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Watch this for Richard Harrison and the Medusa created by Carlo Rambaldi
MEDUSA AGAINST THE SON OF HERCULES is a pretty standard Sword & Sandal: though the story is simple enough, the direction (or lack thereof) makes the story look more convoluted than need be and it probably didn't make much sense to kids who saw this in theaters back in 1963. There are good guys and bad guys who fight for power. You know, the usual stuff. But there are some really good things in this meandering mini-epic: this first good thing is Richard Harrison. Harrison is one of the best actor to appear in S&S films. He's handsome, in good shape (but he's no Steve Reeves) and he can actually act. Every Peplum I've seen with Richard Harrison, he always stood out and gave believable performances even if the material was anything close to being believable.
The second and the most remarkable thing about MEDUSA AGAINST THE SON OF HERCULES is the Medusa itself. The Medusa in this film is a tentacled monster instead of a woman with vipers for hair. When I saw it for the first time my jaw was on the floor. It's by far the coolest thing I've ever seen in a movie. A truly one of a kind creation. The Medusa, totally in black, looks like an evil tree and moves around with spidery roots and has a uber thick nest of tentacles for hair, and it freezes men into statues of stone with its single huge glowing white eye. We see it walk around in a misty landscape which is strewn with marbled soldiers. Some might find it cheesy but I thought the effect was amazing. The Medusa appears from head to toe, for several seconds, in full frame. No CGI here. Very evocative. Like a 1960s pulpy science fiction cover come to life. Carlo Rambaldi is a genius. I wish the (uninspired) direction was at the level of Rambaldi's imagination and it knew how to utilize the remarkable creation to the max.
There's also a full-sized dragon designed by Rambaldi which is also cool but it's pretty obvious it's mechanical after being on screen for a few minutes. It never leaves the beach and only the head moves. It doesn't compare to the Medusa though, which is, along with Richard Harrison, the main reason(s) to watch this film. Even with all its weaknesses, certainly with the weak script and workman-like direction, MEDUSA VS TE SON OF HERCULES is an overlooked fantasy film. It preceded almost every fantasy film of its type, including JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS. I give 5 stars for the film but a full 10 stars for the Medusa, so an average of 7 stars.
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