Hercules the Avenger (1965)

aka The Challenge of the Giant, La sfida dei giganti
Article 3327 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-7-2010
Posting Date: 9-23-2010
Directed by Maurizio Lucidi
Featuring Reg Park, Gia Sandri, Giovanni Cianfriglia
Country: Italy
What it is: Sword and Sandal

When his son’s soul is held in bondage after a lion attack, Hercules must go into the underworld and rescue him. Meanwhile, Anteaus, the son of an Earth Goddess, impersonates Hercules and becomes a tyrannical dictator over the kingdom of Syracuse.

You know, given the number of sword and sandal movies that emerged from Italy in the early sixties, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of them borrowed footage from earlier movies to pad out the proceedings. If they did so, however, they did so with restraint. That’s not the case here. My first hint was a sense of deja vu during a visit to a soothsayer. However, once Hercules does battle with an old man who turns into a lizard creature, I knew that this movie was pillaging footage from HERCULES AND THE CAPTIVE WOMEN, and shortly after that, it started pillaging from HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD as well. At any rate, that explains why this one is so bizarrely structured. What original footage exists seems to involve the home life of Hercules and the machinations of Antaeus, and the complicity of a misguided (as in opposition to evil) queen who agrees to his impersonation as a ruse to get rid of unwanted suitors. Though the final scene of the fight between Hercules and Antaeus is new footage, it’s not really all that novel, as I remember the character appearing in HERCULES UNCHAINED, which also used the gimmick that Antaeus could not be defeated while his feet were on the ground. At any rate, this is an unnecessary movie, as its footage is taken from much better sword and sandal movies.


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