Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Hercules in the Haunted World|
Actors: Reg Park, Christopher Lee, Leonora Ruffo, George Ardisson, Marisa Belli
Directors: Franco Prosperi, Mario Bava
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Hercules (Reg Park) must battle a monster made of stone, retrieve a golden apple from the tree of Hesperides, and brave the horrors of Hades to rescue his beloved from the clutches of the evil Lyco (Christopher Lee). O... more »
Terrific DVD showcase for eye-popping Bava beefcake epic
Surfink | Racine, WI | 09/10/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Fantoma's DVD release of Mario Bava's Hercules in the Center of the Earth ought to elevate his stature in the film world, if not as a "serious" movie director, then certainly as one of the cinema's most talented and artistic lighting cameramen/cinematographers. The story is fairly generic muscleman stuff and the acting is competent if unexceptional (although three-time Mr. Universe Reg Park definitely has a believable physical presence as Hercules); what really sets this movie apart from virtually any other peplum flick are Bava's neon-hued Technicolor visuals, which at times border on the hallucinatory. Throughout most of the movie he tosses off shot after stunning shot, many only a few seconds long, nearly every one impeccably lit, artfully composed, and accented with vibrant color. Bava's interweaving of light, shadow, color, and sometimes literal "smoke and mirrors" to define space, mood, and even character is consistently impressive, even more so after reading the liner notes describing how little he had to work with. Cool sequences and striking set-pieces abound, including Deianira rising from her sarcophagus and floating across the room (like Lon Chaney in Son of Dracula); Hercules's eerie visits with the sibyl; the psychedelic ocean vistas on the voyage to the Hesperides; Lyco (Christopher Lee) reflected in a pool of his victim's blood; the flying ghouls rising from their slimy crypts (which must have given nightmares to the kiddie matinee crowd in 1964); and the climactic showdown between Hercules and Lyco, shot in an atmospheric Roman grotto. There's almost too much to appreciate in a single viewing. While I'm not normally a huge fan of sword-and-sandal flicks (though I did watch lots of them on Saturday afternoons as a kid), and I could've done without the `comedy relief' character, I still have to strongly recommend this movie not only to fans of Bava's other movies (particularly Planet of the Vampires), but also anyone who simply appreciates breathtakingly beautiful color cinematography.
Fantoma's DVD is transferred in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and anamorphically enhanced, from a virtually pristine Technicolor print of the original Italian-language dub. There is only the lightest of speckling evident; otherwise it's crisp and clean, with lush, richly-saturated color, and excellent contrast and detail. Optional English subtitles are included, as well as the (continental) English-dubbed soundtrack. Unless you're extremely subtitle-phobic, I recommend the Italian-language soundtrack with the subtitles. The English dubbing gives the film a campier, less serious tone and often renders the dialogue much more prosaically than the subtitles (example: Hercules's final words to Deianira in the subtitled version, "Man's love is passionate, but often inconsistent. Ours will last forever"; in the English dub, "As long as Theseus steals other men's girls, I have nothing to worry about.") Unfortunately we don't get to hear Christopher Lee's actual voice in either version. The DVD also includes excellent Tim Lucas liner notes; a gallery of approximately 45 color and B&W stills, posters, and ad mats; and a comparatively rough-looking trailer, matted to about 1.66:1 and suffering from medium to heavy scratching and lining, poor color, and merely acceptable sharpness and detail. The film is broken into 16 chapter stops and the Dolby 2.0 mono sound is full and clear. The definitive edition of an unmercifully neglected film."
Joey Narcotic | New Zealand | 11/23/1998
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Most of the Italian Hercules movies made during the '60s were silly sword & sandal sagas. And so is this one. But, as directed by the great Mario Bava, it's also an atmospheric exercise in cinematic style. The photography is great, the special effects are innovative, and Bava uses colour as strikingly here as he did in Baron Blood. Christopher Lee makes a great villain, too. So what if the silly storyline wanders far afield from its mythic origins? The weird flying zombies alone are worth the price of admission."
Bava is brilliant
Wayne A. | Belfast, Northern Ireland | 08/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Somewhere in the recent release of Danger: Diabolick someone points out that although Bava was given 3 million to make that film he only spent $400,000. Bava worked in that giddy realm of making do when making low-budget films. Roger Corman and his people were great at that but Bava was an artistic genius--his movies are frequently stunning, even though you might be looking at $200 in sets and props.
I love this film, almost as much as "Planet of the Vampires"-- my favorite Bava and very nearly my favorite film (Alphaville and 8 1/2 top it for me). Even the soundtrack on this Hercules flick is spectacular.
What's to like? Well, with minimal props Bava comes close to turning a cheap Hercules film into something rivaling the original "Beauty and the Beast" for sublimely weird atmosphere. One scene with Hercules and the Oracle is uncanny: I know I'm seeing two vases, some colored gels, tinsel, a mirror, and about 50 bucks in other stuff but my ever-vigilant analytical mind goes right to sleep during this bit and the magic of it never fails to overtake me. The Oracle is even wearing a mask left over from "La Dolce Vita."
When Hercules and his sidekick enter Hades the real craziness begins (as it should, considering it's Hades). Again, many stunning and surreal scenes. The film has its lumps and bumps but its amazing that it isn't solid lump, as most budget films can be. It also has Christopher Lee doing a swell job as the villain...as usual. All in all, a great and edifying film experience and I'm thrilled it was cleaned up and given to the world in such a wonderful form. I'd use this wonderful movie in any film production class to show students how art and genius can triumph over budget any day (I'd also use Guy Maddin's "Careful"--in his own Canadian way Maddin might rival Bava, in fact since his plots never force him to exceed his limitations his films are seldom lumpy).
Just released--"Danger: Diabolick" another Bava miracle I was glad to put on the shelf beside the previously mentioned films.
The most spectacular set in the film was actually painted on glass by Bava in about a day or so. It makes the sets in Bond films look weak."
Action, terror and fantasy.
Angel G. Garcia | Madrid, SPAIN | 02/27/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Here it is a nice and different movie from the 60's, a mixture of Sword&Sandal and terror,with astonishing special effects. Hercules (NATURAL bodybuilder Reg Park) opposes the evil and tyrannical Lyco (Christopher Lee). So Hercules must rescue his beloved princess Deianira (Leonora Rufo) from the curse that Lyco has put on her, and according to the oracle, must go down to Hades. Two friends accompany Hercules, one them is very funny. After many adventures, the hero fights a stone monster, gets a golden apple and a concoction from a flower, they return from Hell. Before the end there are some incredible, delirous and chaotic scenes in a graveyard with some creatures getting out of the tombs that become living deads and zombies and others like flying vampires all attack Hercules. Finally comes the punishment and the evil Lyco turns into dust. Sucessful color special effects by Mario Bava."