RUNNING TIME: 88 min
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
Once, Zeus created seven mighty thunderbolts that kept peace, but some other, rebellious Gods steal them, rendering Zeus powerless, creating chaos on Earth, and sending the Moon on a collision course with our planet. Two sisters named Urania and Glaucia speaks to the Little People and learns that only Hercules can save them, so, after hesitation, Zeus sends Hercules back from the stars to Earth to aid the humans, but the vengeful gods resurrect their own warrior, Hercules’ old foe King Minos. Hercules sets out to find the thunderbolts, which are hidden inside monsters….
There was no way that The Adventures Of Hercules 2 [which is also just called The Adventures Of Hercules, which makes for a better title considering the first movie was entitled Hercules rather than The Adventures Of Hercules] wasn’t going to be a huge amount of ridiculous goofy fun, though in its own crazy way the first movie had a hell of a lot to live up to, and I did wonder if I was going to be a little disappointed. While this sequel certainly entertained, and contained a lot to laugh at, it wasn’t, for me, as consistently bonkers as the first one – I think I laughed about half as much, which is still quite a lot and more than I do at your average modern comedy movie – and even contained a few moments that were well done, which I still haven’t worked out was a good or a bad thing. On the other hand, it has some things in it, especially towards the end where things go totally off the rails, which outdo anything in Hercules for daftness, and it actually rotoscopes some footage from other movies without crediting them – honestly – in moments which have to be seen to be believed. Indeed, the cheapness of this effort makes the viewer wonder how on earth director Luigi Cozzi thought he would get away with some of the things in it, though one has to admire his balls. In the end, both films are tremendously entertaining, but I think on balance the first movie has the edge; both are fine ‘so bad it’s good’ movies, but the second one tips things a bit towards just ‘bad’.
Now considering that Hercules wasn’t exactly a hit at the box office, one wonders why they made a sequel to it, but actually The Adventures Of Hercules 2 was shot before its predecessor actually came out in cinemas. What happened was that the producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus weren’t impressed by the film Hercules was shot back-to-back with, The Seven Magnificent Gladiators, and asked Cozzi to shoot some extra footage for it. Then they changed their mind and released The Seven Magnificent Gladiators almost how it originally was, but then asked Cozzi to write a story around the scenes and make a few more scenes with Lou Ferrigno, not telling him that he was involved in a sequel for Hercules until production was over halfway through. William Berger, Eva Robins and Claudio Cassinelli also returned in their respective roles of King Minos, his aide Daedelus [wearing an even kinkier costume] and Zeus respectively, though we got a different and much younger Hera, Maria Rosaria Omaggio. Shot just over a couple of weeks, The Adventures Of Hercules 2 got a more limited release than the first movie and went straight to video in the UK. Never mind, four years later Cannon got Ferrigno to appear four years later as Sinbad Of The Seven Seas, which Cozzi co-wrote and co-directed. Released by 101 Films next Monday, I’m going to buy it. I need more films like this in my life.
So we begin with another prologue where a narrator describes how things begun, but here some of the visuals are trippier and what we see and hear contradicts what we saw and heard in the first movie. The creation of the Universe, which is described as the result of Pandora’s Jar [not box] exploding in the first film, is changed in the sequel to be the creation of: “An ancient angel-like figure: a goddess whom the ancients named Emperia. From within her came the Seed of Light.” Anyway, moving on, and we now get extremely lengthy opening titles, clearly modelled on those in the Christopher Reeve Superman films, along with extensive highlights from Hercules. We do eventually get to the film proper though Hercules doesn’t actually appear for some time. However, we do see a woman being sacrificed to a fire monster, which is….I kid you not….a rotoscoping of the Id monster from Forbidden Planet, just coloured blue instead of its red-orange colour from the older film. For goodness sake it doesn’t even look like it’s made of fire. It seems more like it’s composed of electricity. We then meet our two main female protagonists, and, while Milly Carlucci isn’t too bad as Urania, the woman playing her friend Glaucia, Sonia Viviani, might be one of the worst actresses ever to grace the screen, her reactions and line delivery truly something to behold. Meanwhile Cozzi proves he hasn’t lost his knack for amazing dialogue.
Glaucia:”We need cunning”.
Urania:“I’ll go to the Little People”.
Glaucia:“Yes, they need cunning to survive”.
These Little People by the way….well, there’s only two of them and they are extremely similar to the two Fairies that turn up in most of the Japanese Mothra movies and a few instalments of the Godzilla series. After this, it’s just Hercules battling monster after monster, replete with lots of slow motion, it being highly convenient that each thing he kills has one of the thunderbolts he’s looking for inside it. There’s a gorilla/bear-type thing, Mud People, and even an encounter with a Gorgon which both in terms of staging and the design of the creature is clearly ripped off from Clash Of The Titans, though the animation isn’t bad. The suspense of this sequence is somewhat hampered by the fact that some the people who have been turned to stone can be seen breathing and one even moves a sword, though there’s some nice blue and red Mario Bava-style lighting here [Hercules At The Centre Of The Earth is clearly an influence on both of these movies], and this is followed by a surprisingly eerie bit when Hercules and the girls pass through a wood full of creepy white wooden dolls which are the souls of people taken by a demon. Meanwhile Minos is brought back to life by the villainous Gods [they aren’t very powerful, these Gods] in almost the exact same way that Dracula was resurrected in Dracula Prince Of Darkness, to babble on about science [there actually is a theme, though usually stupidly expressed, of science versus religion, running through both movies], and of course the Moon is about to collide into the Earth!
When the endless Pac-Man sound effects stop for a moment, the dialogue in this movie mostly consists of someone saying what they’ll going to do in the next scene, while characters are constantly wondering off, going somewhere, and then returning. The almost total lack of sets partly gives the film the feel of a caveman picture, though there are some interesting visuals here and there, like the Temple Of Echoes with its top reflecting the bottom and wavy coloured lines in the middle. Overall though it’s not quite as insane as the previous film until the final twenty minutes where the action goes into space where it really will feel like you’ve taken some illegal substance. It seems that money ran out for Cozzi to stage the climax properly, so Hercules and Minos, now equipped with the Sword Of Ice [well, the Sword Of Fire he previously used didn’t work out so well] appear as neon signs in space, and not only have they obviously rotoscoped bits from their fight in the first movie [the destruction of Atlantis is recycled too], they actually….and I can’t believe I’m writing this….trace footage from the 1933 King King when Hercules turns into a gorilla and Minos becomes a dinosaur, then a giant snake. I guess they must have figured that no one would notice at the time.
Hercules seems to be almost a different character in this one, being far more intelligent and talkative, though Ferrigo sounds a bit different this time around, sounding as if he was either dubbed by somebody with a similar voice or they altered the voice in post-production. William Berger really does have a ball playing Minos here though generally the acting is piss-poor, some Amazons who turn up to attack our hero coming across as especially bad. Pino Donaggio’s score from Hercules, still perfectly pitched between cheese and grandeur, is entirely re-used. I don’t think I’ll be returning to The Adventures Of Hercules 2 quite as often as I will Hercules, but it’s still hugely enjoyable and sometimes genuinely gasp-inducing [if in the wrong way], while there’s a charm to both movies you just don’t get in today’s big budget GCI-filled blockbusters. How can you dislike a film which contains the line: “May the stars be with you”? You have to admire Cozzi and company. Well, I do.
“Thankyou Mr Cozzi, for creating two movies that will never fail to brighten up my day”.