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HERCULES, PRISONER OF EVIL is one of the worst Sword & Sandal films ever. It's unspeakably bad. The first thing is it's not even a Peplum. The setting is old Europe, not Ancient Greece or Rome. The story, about a witch wanting to become queen, is crap and confusing. The acting is bad. The production values are non-existent. Reg Park is somewhere in there. The "monster" is not scary but embarrassing. The shriek it makes is hilarious, not scary. I saw this on the Retromedia DVD of HERCULES AND THE CAPTIVE WOMEN (that one is good) and the transfer was really bad. The soundtrack wasn't even in sync with the crappy image. All in all, a thoroughly unpleasant viewing and not just because of the bad transfer. I was entertained by other good S&S films even if the DVD transfers were mediocre. A good transfer wouldn't improve anything about this awful film.
Some reviewers have been decidedly unkind to this minor sword-and-sandal effort but those willing to indulge the sloppy dubbing, chopping editing, and murky prints may find a certain likable quality here. Think of it as an amateurish but enthusiastic high school play, or a big mutt who climbs in your lap and licks your face. Most of the faults cited by other reviewers can't be denied but the main problem here is Hercules' curious absence from the plot (due to injuries) for a 25-minute stretch in the middle of the movie. That's a real momentum killer. Did Reg Park become ill or otherwise unavailable during the filming and thus they had to film around him? (One fight sequence uses an obvious stand-in for Park, lending some support for this theory.) Yes, the monster is more laughable than frightening with a squawk like Rodan's, and disappointingly little is made of Hercules' superhuman strength. (He isn't even bare-chested very often.) Also note the puzzling Oriental decor in some of the palace interiors. However, if you're kind, all of these things might be viewed as part of the fun.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Hercules, Prisoner of Evil" is awful.
As an earlier commentator has noted, this Hercules movie occurs outside of the peplum era with Hercules living with a nomadic tribe somewhere in Europe. Reg Park plays the muscle-bound hero, but he has little in common with his other Hercules incarnations. This is not one of director Anthony M. Dawson's better movies. The tribe that Hercules resides with is being plagued by a monster that lurks in the woods at night, but it turns out that the monster is anybody who comes into contact with a witch who lives in a cave and has an evil potion. Drink the potion and you become the monster. Think of it as an early version of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." I bought the Retromedia DVD, too, and experienced the same problem with the audio, but I have an earlier VHS copy that I transferred to DVD-R for my own enjoyment and the audio and the picture are perfectly synchronized. Unfortunately, neither of them is in the widescreen process so the picture is cropped to full frame. The drama is minimal and Hercules really performs nothing in the way of memorable feats. Of course, when the monster appears, he is played by another actor who bears no resemblance to anybody in the cast so if you figure out the plot, you'll be lost. About midway into the action Hercules suffers a minor wound that takes him out of the story for several scenes. This is a below-average Hercules film and a below-average Reg Park movie. Only completists will want to watch this yucky yarn.
¨Sword and Sandals¨ movie in which Ursus or Hercules lives in a far
land that is being tormented by the bloody raids of a monstrous specie
. As a monster marauds the country commanded by the stiff-upper-lipped
Prince Regent called Zeretelli (Furio Meniconi) , who seized power
several years ago through the assassination of the Great Khan . The
villain regent fears that local hero Ursus (or Hércules) may wrest the
throne from him . To solidify his power , he schemes to marry his
cousin , Amiko (Mireille Granelli) , daughter of the Great Khan and to
take firmly the throne , but Amiko loves the big he-man Hércules , the
leader of the upright villagers . Then , the arrival of the shrewd Ido
(Ettore Manni), the brother of Ursus , provokes a battle between the
two communities . Ursus is trying to encounter and subdue the ominous
monster , being badly injured . Zeretelli takes advantage of this
situation through attacks , rampage , ravage and pillage , but Hercules
is healed by his followers, recovers himself of the wounds ; he then
defeats Zeretelli in combat who now reveals that Amiko is not the
daughter of the Khan . The real daughter results to be Kato (María
Teresa Orsini) , a young woman saved years ago and cared by Ursus and
his townsfolk . The bouncing Ursus , helped by Ido , reunites an army
of rebels to take on the enemy troops . But Ursus is captured , locked
and a witch -who has enchanted various other men in the past- uses her
extreme powers to turn him into a monster . As Ursus imprisoned ,
become a spelled monster and forced to carry out heinous activities as
a terrifying being .
Italian production with dark scenarios , spectacular outdoors and functional production design , including a lot of caves , forests and grottos plenty of stalactite and stalagmite . This is a regular spaghetti , myth-opera with action , a love story , battles and lush landscapes . Breathtaking scenes when Ursus faces off a monster and overwhelming final battle with surprising and moving scenes , including a flood . Reg Park , in his fourth film , is passable as the mythical hero who encounters many dangerous situations while trying to save countrymen of numerous odds . Reg Park himself became something of a cult personality in the Italian epic genre . Reg was a personal fitness trainer in South Africa . His friend and protégé Arnold Schwarzenegger considered Park to be the best of the "peplum" heroes . Reg Park who played the mythic Maciste in a few movies was randomly assigned the identity of Hercules , Goliath , Ursus , Samson or Aron for U.S. viewing . Bouncing and strong Reg was the third American actor bodybuilder , after Steve Reeves and Gordon Scott , to be recruited by Italian producers to star in Peplum films . Reg Park played reserve team football for Leeds United before turning to body-building in 1946 . He finished Mr Universe runner-up to future film rival Steve Reeves in 1950 , then won the title outright in 1951, 1958 and 1965. After marrying South African-born Mareon Isaacs in Johannesburg in 1952, the Parks moved permanently to South Africa . Reg used the amount of money he made acting as hero and gladiator films in Italy to fitness . As the muscle-man Reg Park left allegedly the sword and sandals genre for the gymnasium in South Africa where Reg ran a chain of fitness studios . He was one along with Ed Fury , Dan Vadis , Brad Harris , Alan Steel , Rock Stevens , Gordon Scott whom to seek fortune acting absurdly as muscle mythological figures , but nobody topped Steve Reeves in popularity . Reg only starred 5 Peplum , such as : 1964 ¨Ursus , terror of the Kirguisos¨ , 1961 ¨Ercole Al Centro della terra¨ , 1961 ¨The conquest of the Atlántida¨ and ¨Maciste in King Solomon's Mines" which , handily for Park , was filmed on location in South Africa . Park's last film was ¨La Sfida Dei Giganti¨ until his death (2007) at age 79 .
¨Ursus, Il Terrore Dei Kirghisi¨ displays a colorful and glimmer cinematography by Gábor Pogány , filmed on location in El Lacio and other Roman exteriors . Pogany is a fine Italian cameraman including notorious titles as "The Last Judgment" , "The Magistrate" , "A Man Gets Killed" , Pink Floyd at Pompeii¨ , and ¨Pianos Mecanicos¨ . This oddball Peplum with brief touches of horror was regularly directed by Antonio Margheriti , and it has some flaws and gaps . Being helped as direction assistant by the famous Ruggero Dedodato , author of gore and cannibal films as ¨Body count¨ , ¨House of the edge of the park¨, ¨Jungle holocaust¨and ¨Cannibal holocaust¨ . Antonio M. Dawson was born in 1930 , Rome, and died in 2002 . He was a director and writer , and especially known for his works with miniatures , explosions and flood sequences . Antonio shoots with ordinary aplomb and being famous for Yor (1983), Virus (1980) and Horror castle (1963) . Italian writer-director of horror and exploitation films, a former university engineering student who began in films in 1956 . He was also an expert in special optical effects , FX , and model-making . Often used the pseudonym 'Anthony M. Dawson'. He directed all kind of genres such as Wartime : The last hunter , Tornado , Code Name : Wild Geese , Commando Leopard , Der Commander ; Sci-Fi : War of planets , Planet on the prowl , Criminali Della Galassia ; Action : Operazione Goldman , Indio , The Squeeze , Cyberflic ; Terror : The Virgin of Nuremberg , Virus or Cannibal Apocalypse , Alien from the Deep , Flesh for Frankestein and Spaghetti : Joko and Dynamite Joe .
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A disappointing peplum with horror touches, especially regretful given
that one of my favourite all-time directors, Antonio Margheriti, is at
the helm. Whether it's the typically poor dubbing job - it would have
helped if they had picked voice-over artists who could actually put
emotion and inflection into their voices - or the apparent lack of
interest of everyone involved, who simply go through the paces, this is
below the average for an Italian peplum film. Even Margheriti can't
hide his low budget this time around, with grotty locations and a lack
of conviction in the easily-burnt down sets. The action sequences
highlight actors who are simply going through the paces, swinging their
swords with a lack of energy, and the plot itself is very simple and
doesn't hold together. One thing that is surprising is the twist
ending, hinted at in the film's American title, that Hercules himself
is the monster that has been terrorising the community as a result of
the potion he has been given by an evil witch.
I bought this film on the strength of an enthusiastic review claiming that we get to see Hercules battling "werewolves" in this movie. I'm always a fan of the peplum/horror combinations so my hopes were high for this movie. What a letdown. The "werewolves" are little more than half-naked guys covered in yak-hair and bad make-up, who jump on top of people a lot and just look like what they are, scrawny guys in bad make-up. The immortal character of Hercules doesn't even have many enemies to fight, and lies around for ages in a cave after being injured by one such "werewolf".
Reg Park takes the central role of Hercules (originally Ursus) but his character here is far less developed than in, say, HERCULES AND THE CAPTIVE WOMEN. It doesn't help that Park is wooden in the part - a fault of most, if not all, bodybuilders turned actors. At least this guy's physique is impressive and matched only by Schwarzenegger's in sheer bulk. The supporting cast includes the dependable Ettore Manni, wasted in a dull part, and the usual Italian glamour ladies, but there's not a lot here to get excited about. Even Margheriti seems rather half-hearted in his direction, for there are no memorable scenes. At least I can forgive him, for it was early in his career, but I expected more from the man who gave us CASTLE OF BLOOD. Not a totally worthless film but you can do a lot better in this genre and it disappoints throughout.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie begins with a monster that is terrorizing the surrounding countryside which is divided between two different tribes. One side is led by "Hercules" (Reg Park) while the other has a regent named "Prince Zerah" (Furio Meniconi) temporarily in charge until "Princess Amiko" (Mireille Granelli) is ready to assume the throne. However, Prince Zerah doesn't want to surrender his power and being jealous of Hercules he decides to blame him for the monster's destruction. He also attempts to kill Hercules on more than one occasion with no success. Meanwhile, the monster's reign of terror continues. Now rather than reveal any more of the plot I will just say that this movie was a bit underwhelming for a couple of reasons. First, although he has played the part several times previously, it didn't seem like Reg Park was as fully committed or utilized for this particular effort. Additionally, the reasoning for the monster's presence wasn't demonstrated very well either. Even so it wasn't a terribly bad movie with both Maria Teresa Orsini (as "Katya") and the previously mentioned Mireille Granelli providing some beauty to an otherwise drab affair. Slightly below average.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Jolly legendary strongman Hercules (an engaging performance by the handsome and muscular Reg Park) battles evil sorceress Amiko (gorgeous brunette stunner Mireille Granelli), who transforms men into vicious and hideous werewolf beasts. While the central premise certainly has promise, it's unfortunately rendered pretty flat and uninteresting thanks to Antonio Margheriti's pedestrian direction, the leaden pace, the meandering pace, a plot that fails to blend the horror and fantasy elements together into a cohesive and satisfying whole, the inevitable cruddy dubbing, a crippling lack of tension and vitality, and the classic problem of much dull talk detracting substantially from the too little, yet still quite exciting action (the usual rough'n'ready swordfights are especially stirring). The werewolf monster is likewise a disappointment; he's some pudgy guy in silly hairy make-up who proves to be more laughable than scary. On the plus side the girls are definitely attractive, with the ravishing Maria Teresa Orsini a stand-out as fetching slave girl Kato. Furio Meniconi delivers an effectively slimy portrayal of wicked no-count prince Zeretelli. Franco Mannino's score alternates between slushy orchestral mush and rousing full-speed-ahead barnstorming music. A passable, but overall forgettable diversion.
Quite rare stuff. Two masters of Italian horrors Antonio Margheriti and young Ruggero Deodato directed this film in 1964. It has a lot to do with antique fairy tales and the screenplay is really original. Ursus is the prototype of Conan and other muscled heroes of fantasy movies. He is real hero in this film, fighting against evil, black magic, selfish king with a small number of friends, like Robin Good. Good fighting scenes really liked them. Good costumes and rather progressive score. Bewitched fighters turn in to werewolves like monsters. So this is a real epic fantasy with wise dialogs and 60s colors. Andrey Tripod "www.myspace.com/neizvest" Quite rare stuff. Two masters of Italian horrors Antonio Margheriti and young Ruggero Deodato directed this film in 1964. It has a lot to do with antique fairy tales and the screenplay is really original. Ursus is the prototype of Conan and other muscled heroes of fantasy movies. He is real hero in this film, fighting against evil, black magic, selfish king with a small number of friends, like Robin Good. Good fighting scenes really liked them. Good costumes and rather progressive score. Bewitched fighters turn in to werewolves like monsters. So this is a real epic fantasy with wise dialogs and 60s colors. Andrey Tripod "www.myspace.com/neizvest"
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