Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hercules Against the Moon Men

So now we move to 1964's Hercules Against the Moon Men. It was made in Italian and called Maciste e la regina di Samar. It's actually about an Italian hero called Maciste, but this was changed to Hercules as Machiste would not be familiar to American audiences.
Evil aliens from the moon have landed on the Earth and are terrorizing the city of Samar. But the new Queen of Samar has entered into a pact with the evil aliens that will result in her people's destruction, but she will get to rule the world. She thinks it's a fair trade.
The truly awful opening music starts the movie off on a bad note (no pun intended). You know that old joke about how bagpipes sound like a cat being strangled? This music really sounded like a cat being strangled. And that poor cat is in terrible agony. No, I mean it -- it's awful. I felt so bad that I wrote a cheque to the SPCA before the credits were over.
The first shot is a special effect shot, like a flood or a landslide or something. The rocks just seem to roll back and forth across the landscape on the screen. Then Hercules fights someone in a giant hedgehog costume. It's hard to tell exactly what Hercules is fighting because the fight stays in the shadows. Which is just as well.
There's another scene with a rider who is supposed to be thrown from a horse. Except that he isn't thrown -- he jumps. And it's a bad and clumsy jump.
The aliens are awful. Much like Ronald Reagan did, the aliens make all their important decisions based on astrology. Their rock-man costumes are just really bad versions of Star Trek's Yarnak.
Then there's the sandstorm. For large chunks of the last act, the entire cast is wandering around lost in a sandstorm. They just walk in circles, blinded by the sand and bumping into each other. And this goes on and on. And on.
There's a couple of cool moments -- I counted two, and okay, the rock-men grew on me a little by the end -- but this is cheap film-making at its cheapest.
On the plus side, Sergio Ciani (billed here as "Alan Steel") seems to be having fun as Hercules. He can't act worth a bean, and neither can anyone else, but it's clear that he's enjoying himself. And what a toupee he has!
This would be the last film by director Giacomo Gentilomo. He quit the film industry to pursue a career as a full-time painter. And who wouldn't have after this?

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