Hercules Unchained (Ercole e la regina di Lidia) (1959)

PIETRO FRANCISCI

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.  //Spain, 1959.  , , , .  Story by , Screenplay by , Pietro Francisci, based on the play Oedipus at Colonus by  and The Seven Against Thebes by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .

Steve Reeves in Hercules Unchained

The success of the previous year’s Hercules put a sequel into production quickly, and the rush job shows in the messy plotting of this less successful adventure.  once again gleams beautifully as cinema’s best incarnation of the Greek demigod, this time dragged into a war of succession involving two brothers and the throne of Thebes.  While on his way to join this skirmish, Hercules takes a break next to a beautiful stream and drinks its waters, not knowing that it is an enchanted spring that causes memory loss in all who partake of it.  He wakes up in the palace of the Amazonian Queen of Lydia, a matriarchal monarch who makes a trophy husband of him while the mentally unfettered Ulysses tries his best to jog our hero’s memory.  What Herc doesn’t know is that the Lydian Queen has a habit of turning her men into statues when she’s ready to move on to the next hunk, while his wife Iole () is in grave danger after having been left in the care of one of the Theban princes.  As much as the plotting is a shambles, this one is not without its merits: the sense of good-natured fun that made the first one such a guilty pleasure isn’t all sapped out here, and Mario Bava’s contribution as lighting director gives it some fine moments of memorable beauty (Hercules’ encounter with unhappy Oedipus is worth the price of admission alone).

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