Hercules In The Haunted World (1961)

MARIO BAVA

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5

Original Title: Ercole al centro della Terra

Alternate Title: Hercules Vs. The Vampires, The Vampires Vs. Hercules, With Hercules To The Center Of The Earth, Sword and Sandal

/, 1961. , . Story and Screenplay by , Mario Bava, , . Cinematography by Mario Bava. Produced by . Music by . Production Design by . Costume Design by , . Film Editing by .

Mario Bava could rarely point a camera without creating a gorgeous image, and here gives us one of his most dazzling adventures as both director and cinematographer. ‘s second outing as Hercules, good-natured and physically impressive if not as charismatic as Steve Reeves before him, sees him arrive at the city of Ekalia in the hopes of reuniting with his beloved Deianira (), but finds her plunged under a spell and kept locked away from public viewing by the city’s ruler Lico (). To free her from this evil control and be reunited in their love, Hercules takes his perpetually womanizing friend Theseus () and their goofy sidekick Telemachus () and they head for, where else, the underworld. First they must retrieve a golden apple, then in the depths of Hades must find an enchanted stone that will solve all their problems, but Theseus also brings back Pluto’s beloved daughter Persephone and, in doing so, brings the deadly god’s wrath upon the land. As silly as it all is, there’s a sincere commitment to the fantasy aspect of the story that allows it to feel like pure escapism, while successfully adding in the eerie flavours of narration by the oracle Medea, and the presence of some pretty scary creatures.

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