Article 5398 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Luigi Cozzi
Featuring Lou Ferrigno, Brad Harris, Sybil Danning
Country: Italy / USA
What it is: Sham Sword and Sandal
Hercules must save Cassiopea from being sacrificed in the kingdom of Thera.
Lou (Incredible Hulk) Ferrigno may have been the draw in this movie, Sybil Danning may have provided the cheesecake, but my attention was drawn to the name of Brad Harris, whose presence was the movie’s nod to the sword and sandal movies of the sixties; Harris played Hercules in THE FURY OF HERCULES. I was initially excited about seeing this, especially when I realized that it was directed by an Italian film director under an anglicized name (Luigi Cozzi as Lewis Coates); it seemed to me that it would be a revival of those movies from twenty years earlier. So how had twenty years treated the genre? The first thing I noticed is that it was goofier and cornier. The special effects were more modern, though not necessarily any less cheesy. There’s more female flesh on display. Then, during a scene in which we see a classic sword-and-sandal battle, it occurred to me that it was stock footage from one of those earlier movies. This was when the depression began to hit me, and it only grew as the movie went on. Where were the crowds of extras? The battle scenes? Those wonderful locations? This movie felt puny, claustrophobic, setbound, and lacking in the human element that pervaded those earlier movies. There’s some campy fun to be had; I was especially amused by the sequence where we learn how the constellation of Ursa Major came about. But overall, I felt the magic was gone. This wasn’t a revival of the sword and sandal genre; it was a death knell. No, those older movies weren’t classics, but they had more soul than this.