Hercules(Reg Park) and The Captive Women -A Sword and Sandal story…an interactive article! Chapter One…

An early peplum starring the late Kirk Douglas as Ulysses

The winds have struck up from the East, blowing their breathe in to the sails. By the gods!!! It must be a sign of good fortune. By Zeus or is it Jupiter..I never get that right oh well… Yes you are right my travelers it’s is time for adventure-marauding pirates, earthquakes, mountains spewing hot ash and molten rock and some great unexplained beast to subdue..so come with me on a perilous voyage/quest. With the spray of the sea in our face we will persevere. It will be a most thrilling of times…

Sound familiar. Well maybe not so much now but there was a time. And of late there has been a renewed interest in the peplum(sword & or sandal films), of what could be called- a long ago era. One that I hope resurrects itself in the Cinema & Television of today.

What appears to be a colorful British Quad

It was this fifth outing for the character that established Hercules and the Peplum craze. It was for Reg the beginning. One that would bring additional worldwide recognition outside the bodybuilding arena. The film itself contains and embodies what the future films especially when it comes to Hercules as having a sense of humor. One scene has Herc sitting down at an establishment partaking of food and drink while a fight breaks out among his friends and some of the patrons. Hercules just sits back enjoys it knowing that his services are not required for something of this small stature. And his friends are more than capable.

But what is peplum?- well it was a name that was attached to an explosion of films that came out of Italy and joint productions overseas in Europe during the late ’50s and thru the mid-later ‘60s. The word represented a new genre of film or possibly a sub-genre of the Epic movies. The stories were epic but also included more action and lots of brawny heroes wearing mostly sandals and yes! loin clothes or limited garb and that did apply to the women as well. Although maybe their attire may not have been as revealing as say any that were released during the ’70s(The Arena with Pam Grier) and

’80s think-Conan the Barbarian and The Beastmaster( a gloriously restored 4K recently released from Vinegar Syndrome).

International poster for Hercules Against the Barbarians

It put bodybuilding and bodybuilders on the call for Hollywood and international stardom. Steve Reeves was the first (of several) cast as Hercules in Hercules ‘58_ (Labors of-Italian title) & Hercules Unchained ‘59. Both ravaged the box-office and then the call went out. But it was Terror of the Barbarians that established Reeves as a world cinema contender. After that Steve & sword/sandals was cemented as a viable commodity at the movies. These films played to packed houses(theaters) and Drive-Ins. Always a good bet for a 1st run and making them a the part of a welcomed double feature.

This was still very early ’60s when a new body(face) arrived on the scene- no stranger to the bodybuilding scene. Coming in like a lion or more like a charging rhino- Reg Park split open Reeves sandals as he took on the mantle of Hercules in — Hercules and the Captive Women( Internationally_ Hercules “Conquers or Conquest of” Atlantis) with Hercules in the Haunted World( Co-starring Christopher Lee with direction by Mario Bava). Three more followed. But the first one is the one for me . It even featured some music ques that were later used in an animated series *The Mighty Hercules(1963–66) from Transluxe (a Canadian media company- a major favorite on Saturday Mornings during the ’60s).

  • Trivia — Reg Park did it naturally-Bodybuilding…no steroids or supplements. That is the way to go. And Reg always believed people need heroes and the fact that they look up to their heroes you need to set an example. Remember you may be someones role model and that can have a lot influence on a person.

It was this fifth outing for the character that established Hercules and the Peplum craze. It was for Reg the beginning. One that would bring additional worldwide recognition outside the bodybuilding arena. The film itself contains and embodies what the future films especially when it comes to Hercules as having a sense of humor. One scene has Herc sitting down at an establishment partaking of food and drink while a fight breaks out among his friends and some of the patrons. Hercules just sits back enjoys it knowing that his services are not required for something of this small stature. And his friends are more than capable.

Hercules(Reg Park)at this point has decided to give up adventure all together and really settle down and spend some quality time with his family. Is happy but seeing is believing. So even though an unseen force is threatening Thebes and the surrounding near by kingdoms. He decides to leave it to anyone/everyone else. To actually hear him turn down Androloces(Ettore Manni) and say can’t you get the other leaders help-well that is not what you expect our hero to say. In fact his son Hylos is begging for an adventure. Which Herc has forbidden him to participate in any form there of.

Well after a far less convincing attempt by Androloces to get the other kingdoms to help in launching an investigation including a small fleet to sale into the unknown to where these disturbances seem to hale from. He is left no choice but to drug Hercules and “drag” him to an awaiting vessel along with his Hylos in tow, hiding in the hold. There good friend Timoteo( Salvatore Furnari- a person of small stature who played many side-kick-comic relief in many adventuress tales).

Reg actually makes you believe he could pull a ship to shore as he is doing so here.(Real chain links)
  • Trivia-All effects were by practical means-no CGI existed at the time and I say thank you for that. I want to say for all you special effects aficionados this is what makes the Peplum films not just so fun but memorable. These were the days when many European countries and production companies were trying to show case what was possible on their terms, their talent and ingenuity. Miniature work, “paper mache” boulders, lighting effects, costumes, rubber suited monsters, real sailing vessels(pirate films) and large crowd scenes.
NO WIRES!!!! That’s one big guard and Reg has no problem hoisting this guy over his head.
  • Most of these films boasted a cast of thousands-extras that were actually gathered at real historical sites where some of the gladiator events actually took place back in ancient times. Lending a more fair amount of authenticity and atmosphere to every story.

But when the odds and the circumstances are of a malevolent nature he responds with the strength of 10 men. Whether it is dealing with a storm at sea or dispatching a shape changing god/wizard ready to devour a maiden in distress.

Ismene in peril as she is being sacrificed to appease a selfish “god”/wizard. As she is absorbed in to the cave wall of his domain.

This time a princess- Ismene played by Laura Efrikian( ) who is being offered as a sacrifice by her own mother the Queen of Atlantis. (Thanks mom?!) The queen -Antinea (Fay Spain) And with this Queen- even family or friend who needs enemies!!! Better off to keep her close if you know what I mean. Plus like most vain, control freaks why not go for it all and put in a bid for world domination. While your at it get some help from some of your mutated subjects. Antinea has no problem whisking off the young children under her rule to a lone mountain side to be subjected to the forces of a not so nice “god”.

And the ones that survive are turned in to almost mindless brutes- looking very much like clones of each other. All bearing thick blonde hair, slightly smushed faces, around the eyes and forehead plus possessing enormous strength. And no one is going to interfere.

Now you will just have to give your eyes a treat and watch this mighty adventure to find if Atlantis survives and Antinea has her way or does Hylos and Ismene sail off in to the sunset and does Hercules finally get a chance some well deserved rest and relaxation?

The film benefits a great deal with a fun script. Providing lots of humor mixed with adventure and rousing action and feats of strength. Along with brawling partnered with much derring do. Excellent performances from Reg, Fay, Laura Efrikian as well as the rest of the cast.

Trivia break-behind the scenes

Reg giving pointers to co-star Fay Spain

We are also treated to superb visual effects by Mario Bava with some awesome sets. an erupting volcano, tidal waves and crumbling buildings. Absolutely brilliant lighting- Gothic at times. All from Carlo Carlini(Cinematographer) with some colors-some only visible now thanks to this latest restoration by The Film Detective.

Hercules and the Captive Women was a major box-office attraction when it was released in 1961 in Italy and the international market.

Below- Japanese release poster- (Japanese posters are among my favorites because they are known for emphasizing the action and incredible sights)

It also when made it’s US debut at the theaters in 1963 to the delight of the distribution company because people were flocking to the theater and the Drive-In. To bolster the soundtrack and to create more suspense some of Hans J Salter’s Creature from the Black Lagoon was edited in on the audio and mixed with the European score by Gino Marinuzzi Jr and Armando Trovajoli’s(Seven Golden Men-a Heist film and Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief)original score.

Extra-

Taglines-

Half Woman! Half Stone! THE WEIRDEST! THE WILDEST! Half Woman! Half Stone!

The Might! The Muscle! The Splendour!

Heroic Hercules battles the seductive powers of the wicked Queen of Atlantis!

What Weird Sadistic Ritual Was The Secret of These Women?

Half Woman! Half Stone!

Above-The things you have to do nowadays to make a buck….

The Bluray and the initial film benefit also in that it was originally filmed in 70 mm. Providing for a unique screen experience. Capturing more detail and giving a larger than life presentation. So this is the only way to see it other than at the Cinema. The colors and sound are poppin. It’s nothing short of ear and eye candy.

The Special Edition-The recently released Bluray remastered & 4K restoration from the 35 mm negative is a joy to behold or to take in..The perfect Drive-In fare. Boasting a brand new documentary produced by Ballyhoo Motion Pictures(Daniel Griffith)and offering an audio commentary by Film Critic/Screenwriter/Writer and Fan , Tim Lucas. Plus the MST3 broadcast with Mike Nelson and his wonderful sidekicks & intro by actor-co-star Frank Conniff. Here you are treated to another side of the film going experience with a rip on all things good and “bad” pertaining to film making. An added bonus- liner notes by C. Courtney Joyner(Film Historian).

The Bluray is available via MVD Entertainment Group-see link below and also available on Amazon.

Mondo version of the titles but gives you an idea of the colors and detail that Filmation provided for the titles.
  • **Trivia- The opening titles on the American release were created by none other than Filmation( He Man & The New Adventures of Superman). And they are spectacular. Pay close attention to the colors that were used. Excellent matching to Carlini’s set lighting.
  • *** More trivia- Reg Park was a mentor and role model for one of the biggest, most bankable bodybuilder of the late ’60s -’70s- Mr Terminator himself- Arnold Schwarzenegger.
  • Reg Park- won Mr Universe 3 times — ’51, ’58 & ’65. And remember Reg was also making movies during the ’60s. So doing that and competing kept this guy pretty busy.

Reg’s next film was Hercules in the Haunted World-(vs Vampires)

Before we bring this adventure to a close I just want to thank everyone for all their support as this is my 100th article and already starting on another 100. so thanks to all the fans, readers, my friends, family and all the companies that put up with all my requests for review copies… I love you all as I do this film. I have to confess this is one of those movies that is pure fun. I have watched several times just in last few weeks and I still could pop it in right now … I pick up something new every time. I now all that is to happen and yet I’m still thrilled each and every viewing. I hope you will be too…

Ciao for now,

Best always,

Doc

Next time we explore the pages of Heroes Never Die in part two of Sword and Sandal/Sword & Sorcery

MVD Entertainment Group-

The Film Detective-

Ballyhoo Motion Pictures-

Bodybuilding-Wikipedia-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodybuilding

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Was born the same year that DR. NO (1962) premiered. His first movie, viewed at age 3 was MONSTER ON THE CAMPUS(1958).

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Chris Nersinger

Chris Nersinger

Was born the same year that DR. NO (1962) premiered. His first movie, viewed at age 3 was MONSTER ON THE CAMPUS(1958).

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