Hercules in the Haunted World
A prime example of a sword-and-sandal film, "Hercules in the Haunted World" (1961) sends the titular hero to Hades for the Stone of Forgetfulness—the only thing that will save his girlfriend, Princess Deianira from the depths of an unnatural swoon. Played by bodybuilder Reg Park, Hercules squares off against King Lico, played by none other than the ever-delightful Christopher Plummer.
As noted in the UEN SciFi Friday article on "Goliath and the Vampires" (1964), "sword and sandal" movies (also known as pepla) typically had low budgets, gladiators or biblical characters, and well-muscled heroes who fearlessly battled sinister forces. Many Italian directors launched their careers with pepla, including Sergio Leone, the visionary responsible for the films that introduced Clint Eastwood to the world.
A sequel to "Hercules and the Captive Women" (1961), "Hercules in the Haunted World" was directed by Mario Breva, one of Italian horror films' leading forces. Initially a painter and sculptor, Brava turned his talents to cinematography as a more reliable income stream. With a filmography of more than 70 features—including "The Day the Sky Exploded" (1958), also featured on UEN SciFi Friday—sci-fi fans may be grateful for his career choice.
Dr. Maria NewtonDr. Maria Newton, Associate Professor in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of Utah, discusses Hercules as portrayed in film and psychosocial aspects of fitness.
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