Hercules in the Haunted World

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“An all new height in fright and might!”

Return to a magical age of bulging loincloths, papier-mâché boulders and hilarious dubbing mishaps in the strangest, grooviest, most far-out entry in the genre of ‘60s Italian sword-and-sandal extravaganzas, Hercules in the Haunted World! Directed by legendary horror maestro Mario Bava (Black Sunday), Hercules in the Haunted World stands out from the dozens of other 50’s/60’s sweaty Italian musclemen films thanks to its garishly wacked out psychedelic atmosphere filled with all the signature Bava touches: weird settings, lurid colors, druggy creatures and pleasingly cheesy special effects. And add sinister horror icon Christopher Lee to the mix as an evil, jealous wizard named Lyco, and it all adds up to pure B-movie bliss. When musclebound demi-god Hercules (here played with befuddled blankness by three-time Mr. Universe Reg Park, who also starred in Hercules and the Captive Women) finds that his va-va-voom fiancee Queen Dianira has fallen into a memory killing stupor while he was away “on business,” he calls upon his shirtless pals, the skirt-chasing Theseus and the annoying buffoon Telemaco, to help him find the cure. Soon, our heroes are battling lumbering monsters made of stone, retrieving golden apples from the tree of Hesperides and braving the horrors of Hades to rescue Queen Dianira from the clutches of the evil Lyco, who has taken Herc’s honey to hell for his own unspeakable purposes. That’s about it for plot, but what really matters are the fantastic flying corpses, the sexy chained sirens, the weird and wild battles between highly-oiled muscle men and, as always, Hercules’ tendency to hurl boulders whenever he gets confused (which is fairly often). A true ‘60s camp classic. (Dir. by Mario Bava, 1961, Italy, dubbed in English, 91 mins., Not Rated) Digital