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Maria Grazia Spina
HERCULES AGAINST MOLOCH (Giorgio Ferroni, 1963) *1/2
This peplum has to be one of the low points of the entire genre: not only does it not generate any interest or particular excitement throughout (most of the time I was merely confused by the plot overcrowded with factions, conspirators and usurpers), but the title itself is a cheat: Hercules doesn't really feature in it at all - it's merely the name under which hides muscle-bound hero Gordon Scott, actually the prince to a neighboring empire attempting to free Mycenae from the influence of paganism and the ruling corruption and sadism; Moloch, then, is nothing like the man-eating God seen in Fritz Lang's METROPOLIS (1927) but the disfigured heir - with his face hidden behind an iron mask shaped like a wolf's head! - to the throne who's kept hidden in the dungeons (with a line-up of drum-beating females as company!) and occasionally offered victims he can amuse himself with by shooting at them with arrows. Actually, the latter scenes are nicely atmospheric (director Ferroni had earlier made the fine Gothic-horror piece MILL OF THE STONE WOMEN ); by the way, the minor peplum LE BACCANTI (1961) - also helmed by Ferroni - had featured a similar set of underground females, while some of the exterior scenes appear to have been lifted from the director's own - and vastly superior - THE Trojan WAR(1961)! Interestingly, the villainous female lead is played by Rosalba Neri who's undeniably attractive but not yet the favored raunchy starlet of Euro-Cult; also in the cast are Arturo Dominici (as a despicable officer in Neri's service) and Michel Lemoine (in view of his unusual looks, it's surprising to find him on the side of the righteous and carry the film's secondary love interest to boot!).
Note: according to the DVD Drive-In review for Trimark's Box Set "The Adventures Of Hercules", in which this film is included, it's written that Tim Lucas suspects that Mario Bava may have been involved in its making; apart from the lighting scheme in the dungeon scenes with Moloch, as already mentioned, it's hard to agree with this - but, then, Bava's own peplums hardly constitute his best work...
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