Thursday, November 19, 2009

Herc Smash!

The Plot: One can easily argue that the birth of our counter film culture began in the ancient Myths of different cultures. Seriously, think about it; tales of heroes clashing with grotesque creatures while the Gods cursed them one day while praising them the next. Indeed...Myths were and still are the sh*t. Granted I hated reading as a kid and generally still do but I have to say the Myths always seemed to capture my fascination. Especially the Greek myths which ended up being one of the many seeds planted in the B-culture garden growing out of control in my head now.

Which brings me to the film adaptations of the epic stories. It generally seems to be hit or miss with these movies. For example Clash Of The Titans (which granted looks slightly dated by today's standards) still holds up tightly in cinematic history as one of the greats. Hell, I could pop it in right now and enjoy the escapades of Harry Hamlin in his pre-LA Law days running around in a tunic. Wow that sounded gay. Well anyhow, in 1983 Incredible Hulk star Lou Ferrigno was ready to reboot the tale of Hercules. What ended up happening was probably enough to anger every God of movie folklore. Let us commence with the cheese.

We begin our "epic" retelling with spoken narration (oh brother). We learn from the booming, over dramatic voice about the formation of the cosmos, Pandora's jar being broken and the Gods who live on Mt. moon. Already I'm going to assume they just kind of winged it in the mythology department here and there. So much is included in this narration that I really lost track of how things came about. Just know mankind is screwed from the get go.

We join up with the Godly folk, who's outfits look rented from a five and dime store, chatting casually of how humans are doomed. Zeus and Athena decide not just any man can save them. Zeus starts putting together the ingredients for the perfect man in the cosmic mixing bowl and sends the results to earth as baby Hercules. We follow a superimposed spotlight of sorts over stock footage of scenery for a bit until Hercules ends up joining the King and Queen of Thebes. Hera, being her ever cheerful self, warns us that evil is afoot though...muhahahaha.

Matter of fact, evil is afoot in the greater Thebes area. A fellow by the name of Valcheus along with the Princess Adriana start a rebellion after acquiring the Sword Of Omens...or something like it anyhow. In the bloody revolt, the King and Queen are killed but Hercules makes it out with the help of a maid. She places him in a boat and quickly gets off'd for her efforts. The henchmen following her play the dumb bad guy route and assume the river will take him. Which albeit it almost does until Zeus lends a helping hand. Hera, being the ray of sunshine she can be, sends a few aquatic snakes after him. Hercules plays with them a bit and squishes their heads. Kids...they're so cute at that age aren't they?

A nice childless couple takes in Hercules and raise him into adulthood. Hercules pretty much possess all the strength of the Gods at this point and can rip trees out by their roots. He also manages to take on Ursa Major when it assaults his foster dad. He beats the threatening bear (which was a hybrid of bear stock footage and someone in a really awful bear suit) until it turns into something resembling it's actual constellation in the stars. Athena busts Hera's balls about it but Hera assures her there are still plenty more monsters to go through until Hercules is out of the woods.

Finally, something more scary than the
Burger King mascot.

Matter of fact King Minos, who we hadn't had the pleasure of meeting until this point, teams up with Daedalus and decides to send a few problem makers Herc's way. The first one comes in the form of a giant locust of sorts which offs Herc's foster mother. Whats that you say, that wasn't in the myths? Well don't let that disappoint you, there's more crap on the way in a few paragraphs. Herc short wires it in no time making it disappear.

Well with mommy gone and a plot line to build, Herc heads off to heed the call of champion tryouts in the local town. After a bunch of nonsense and Lou Ferrigno man-breast bouncing, Herc proves himself worthy. He is assigned by the King of the town to take his daughter Cassiopeia on a quest. However, the King's adviser suggests they give him another test for loyalty. Apparently beating up a whole bunch of guys in the tryout was a bit useless.

Herc is given the task of cleaning the horses stables. The veiled Cassiopeia visits him and the two annoyingly banter away for a bit. He promises her that the stables will get done only if she reveals her face to him. This leads to a bit I simply couldn't figure out. Following the tale of Herc in the myths, he diverts the river into the stables to clean them. However, he does so by chucking two large stones into the river...from a hundred feet above it. Unless I'm missing something, or this water defines all gravity laws or Herc decided to travel 100 feet above the stables/river f*ck it, who cares...the water somehow travels to the stables to clean it.

Cassiopeia gets a bit turned on by this feat apparently and the two lock lips. However Zeus, who I guess is against Herc getting some poontang, sends down a lightning bolt to break it up. Kind of like an angry father catching his daughter smacking lips with her prom date. Well the two are knocked unconscious and Adriana decides to wander back into the plot. She instructs her staff to take Cassiopeia prisoner on her boat and to chuck Herc to the sharks. Herc is tossed overboard but escapes death thus landing on an island.

On the island he meets up with Circe the sea witch. The old hag, on Athena's bequest, invites Herc up for some food and drink. She informs him that there is only one way off the island and its dangerous. Herc rises to the challenge but first Circe insists she drinks 10 drops of his blood. Why, well this ends up restoring her youth. I guess we are to assume Herc's red ruby is an early form of Botox or something. Circe in her new shapely form tells Herc about a magical talisman that is being held in hell that she needs to get back.

Herc's next challenge is to face the Hydra which according to this movie is the three headed guardian of hell. Um wait a minute...did they honestly just mix the idea of Cerberus and the Hydra together? Well then...that's a tad idiotic. Anyhow Herc makes quick work of the mechanical Hydra (sent by Minos/Daedalus) and take the rainbow connection to hell. Why there was a rainbow leading into hell is beyond me. Why hell exists in an ancient myth is beyond me too but I'll assume they meant "underworld".

"I told him to get horses but would he listen,
noooooo...(grumble, grumble grumble)"

Herc and Circe take the riverboat over and find something resembling a shiny, gaudy egg that resembles something in the 70s people would put out as a decoration at Easter. Herc passes a test of fire and ice on his hand to acquire the talisman. For whatever reason, the talisman doesn't contain enough juice to get them both to Cassiopeia but they do drop off in the greater Africa area. Um OK...well Herc/Circe make a deal with the King in order to acquire a a magical chariot. Herc does his end of the bargain first which sees him, with the help of Circe's talisman, growing to a rather large size and separating Africa into it's own continent.

Herc and Circe head off to a chamber that contains the magical chariot. This is when things get insanely stupid. You see, the chariot is in good working shape minus the magical horses that would normally pull it. Herc goes into Macgyver mode and knocks down a wall and then has Circe make a rope that they tie to a rock with the other end on the chariot. OK, got that? Herc flings the rock into outer space thus lifting the chariot on a magical ride. How the hell is a rock supposed to pull a chariot? I mean wouldn't gravity cause them to fall at a rapid rate to their deaths rather quickly?

Well before any of these questions are really answered, they end up falling into the ocean at an over-convenient spot right at Cassiopeia's location. They make it to shore but the last of Daedalus's monsters await them. This time, its a half assed centaur of sorts. Circe takes a laser for Herc who ends up easily dispatching the creature again. Circe gives a long winded "hold me, it's getting dark" type of speech before dying off for good. Herc heads off to find Cassiopeia who is being prepped for her sacrifice.

Herc eventually ends up being tricked into a trap door which falls into Atlantis. Um what? Anyhow, he eventually wakes up in chains and resists Princess Adriana's advancements. Breaking the chains that bind him (I guess they didn't learn the first time around) Herc takes out all the guards leaving him and Princess Adriana. He insists she bring him to Cassiopeia which she does...slowly. I found that unintentionally hilarious seeing Cassiopeia is about to be fried in a sacrifice. You'd figure Herc would tell her to speed it up a bit.

Meanwhile, King Minos leads Cassiopeia to the inner sanctum of his kingdom which happens to have a giant lava pit. Wow, in one area you have Atlantis and the other end you have a fire pit. Sounds like a rough bit of real estate. Anyhow, Minos goes into stereotypical villain monologue mode which consists of him revealing his power source and weaknesses. In brief, because the movie took 10 minutes to explain, (taking a deep breath) he contains the power of the phoenix in the lava below and the sword from the beginning keeps it there and it is the source of all his power. Gasp...go ahead and re-read that crap again if you need to. After this explanation, Minos puts Cassiopeia into the unnecessarily slow dipping mechanism.

Herc eventually ends up busting in on them and the final battle commences. Minos whips out a flaming sword (snicker) and the two battle away. Herc eventually pulls the sword out from the beginning and easily offs Minos. Once Cassiopeia is saved, Adriana shows up to make a last stand. Herc chucks the sword at her and for some odd reason she is turned into dust rather quickly. Seeing that didn't happen to Minos, I guess the sword was meant for slaying bee-yotch princesses. Herc and Cassiopeia end up escaping thus saving humanity...oh wait...I'm not exactly sure they did that. Oh well, they're in love and luckily for me the film ended.

Where one can slay this film for it's awful shortcomings, I have to admit parts of me rather enjoyed how overly cheesy it was. And believe me, the cheese was extra thick in this one. Herc chucks things around which usually end up in orbit, the robotic beasts are extremely silly and the dialog leaves a lot to be desired. However, acting wise I honestly was surprised because I expected worst...much worst. Granted it was no Shakespearean endeavor but still...I was surprised. As for Ferrgino, he was built for a role like this and his impressive build made him more than believable.

Overall, one could compare this as a sacrifice to the Gods of bad movies. And I'm proud to pay respect to them by tearing it appart in their honor.

You're A Grand Old A-Hole
(the A-Holes of the film get their moment)
Team Hera

Player hating before there was such
a thing as player haters.


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