Hercules, Prisoner of Evil (1964)
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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 .
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.
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.
Anyway the usurper and his partner who is a sorceress have the common serfs under control, but for Ursus who leads one of the tribes. The sorceress gets the big guy under her control and turn him into some kind of ravenous beast.
Good thing the good guys have someone skilled in the black arts who brings Ursus around.
Just like Hulk Hogan going over to the dark side.
Lots of dull dialogue and badly choreographed fight scenes make for a really boring viewing experience, with Park putting in a forgettable central performance as the bland hero: the bodybuilder might have the physique, but he sure lacks the charisma. Mind you, with such an uninspired script and flat direction from Margheriti, he never really stood a chance.