Monday, December 27, 2010

Hercules in the Haunted World (1961)

Mario Bava, the Italian Master of the Macabre, conquered the Sword and Sandal genre in between filming two of his greatest Horror masterpieces with the stunning fantasy epic HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD. The great Hercules must travel into the bowels of Hades with his trusted ally Theseus in order to retrieve the sacred stone that will restore life to his lady love, the Princess Deianara, but the treacherous King Lico will stop at nothing to see that Hercules is killed so that he may usurp the throne! The extraordinary use of color, sound, and lighting that would dominate Bava's later films are all present as Hercules battles his way through throngs of the undead in the underworld. His vibrant red, green, and blue hues are met with creeping mists, towering sets, and an incredible mix of matte paintings and miniatures that extend the modest budget into an elaborate production. Our dashing hero is played by the handsome and powerful Reg Park, who must use his brute strength to overcome a conniving Christopher Lee as King Lico. HERCULES has all of the exciting action and adventure of the Pepla films set to an eerie and frightening mood, while demonstrating that Mario Bava's skills as a director reach far beyond just the Horror genre.

Rating: 9/10.

If you liked HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD, check out:
CLASH OF THE TITANS, THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD, JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS.

10 comments:

  1. Wow, I completely looked over this one, guess that was a mistake. Thanks for the review, definately going ot have to get this one!

    Cheers!

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  2. Its titles like this that I purposely overlooked in the past, but have only just recently realized that they are not the B-movies I made them out to be (much like FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED)

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  3. Sword & Sandal movies often play much better in their original Italian versions. They also often contain a startling degree of violence for the time they were made. Bava's other peplum/fusto movies aren't as good as this one. He also worked on HERCULES UNCHAINED and THE GIANT OF MARATHON both with Steve Reeves. The former has a high degree of fantasy elements about it.

    I was elated to discover HERCULES AGAINST THE BARBARIANS (MACISTE AGAINST THE BARBARIANS) in restored widescreen last week on the 3EPIX channel as well as REVOLT OF THE SLAVES, which I'd never seen before.

    There's a small handful of horror tinged muscleman and gladiator movies, Carl, but this is the best of the bunch.

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  4. This was a real treat V, Reg makes a great Hercules and I was surprised to find that this preceded BLACK SUNDAY considering BLACK SUNDAY is so commonly referenced for Bava's key use of coloring. I dont know if I saw the Image disc or the second release of the DVD, but the image quality was pretty shoddy even with upscaling on the 1080

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  5. Hercules In The Haunted World is a classic & sumptuous looking movie from Mario Bava.
    It is interesting as Carl states that the main reference point for Bava's style is Black Sunday, but if you look back at his earlier movies as a cinematographer with other greats such as Hercules (1958) & Hercules Unchained (1959) both starring Steve Reeves, if you were unaware of Mario Bava's involvement it is clear to see his set style & infusion of incredible colour. You would check the credits to see if in fact he were the Director. A true Great of Cinema.
    Both Hercules & Hercules Unchained are available on a Two DVD Disc set from Concorde Entertainment Germany with English dialogue versions & lovely Widescreen prints. A real collectors item very much worth trying to obtain. As the German front cover screams out ... Die Saga Uber Den Starksten Mann Der Welt ! :) .

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  6. Do you mean BLACK SABBATH aka THREE FACES OF FEAR, Carl? BLACK SUNDAY was B/W and released here in 1960.

    Reg Park was in four other fusto movies, each getting worse with each film. His second, HERCULES & THE CAPTIVE WOMEN aka HERCULES CONQUERS ATLANTIS (1961) is also really good and a lot of fun. It also made my '26 Best Sword & Sandal' list. His other three are awful. He did these strictly as a means to advance as a businessman. Schwarzenegger idolized Reg Park and it was he who inspired him to get into bodybuilding.

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  7. I totally did, I dont know how I managed that slip lol..

    I am looking forward to going back to the other Hercules films. I never knew that about Arnold either, that's awesome!

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  8. I remember trying to watch a DVD version of it, only to learn that Lee does his own voice in the Italian language version, but is dubbed by someone else in the English language version. Why? He speaks English you fools!

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  9. Thats common but equally odd in tons of the Italian dubs, it never makes sense, the only thing I can think of is that the dubbing is time consuming and having a name actor like Chris Lee do it would be way more expensive than Joe down the street?

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  10. That and many Italian films, particularly Bava's, were always filmed without audio since most were planned as marketable exports

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