Thursday, September 28, 2017

Movie Review: Sinbad of the Seven Seas

Sinbad of the Seven Seas
Cannon Films, USA, Italy, Iraq 1989.
Claimed to be based on Edgar Allan Poe's story "The Thousand and Second Tale of Scheherazade," but we only believe it because they say so.

Mother (Daria Nicolodi, known for Dario Argento's giallo films) reads her daughter a bedtime story about brave hero Sinbad the Sailor.
Buffed-up sailor named Sinbad (Lou Ferrigno) sails the seas with his merry men Prince Ali (Roland Wybenga), Viking (Ennio Girolami), Bald Cook (Yehuda Efroni), Chinese Soldier of Fortune Cantu (Hal Yamanouchi) and Poochie the Dwarf (Cork Hubbert). In Basra kind Caliph (Donald Hodson) rules the happy city. Princess Alina (Alessandra Martines) is awaiting for Ali. Evil Vizier Jaffar (John Steiner) wants to be caliph instead of the caliph and uses black magic to mesmerize the city making everyone mindless puppets.
Lou Ferrigno
Alessandra Martines
John Steiner
So when Sinbad returns, there is nobody to welcome him. Unacceptable. Sinbad marches to the palace to see what is the problem. Jaffar throws Sinbad into dungeon and his friends have to save him but they get captured too. So Sinbad has to free himself using a rope made of snakes(!) Meanwhile Jaffar tries to corrupt the Princess and hides the magic jewels that protect the city. The Princess is tied to acrylic machine where colourful juice flows in tubes.
Sinbad's crew
Roland Wybenga
Prince Ali
Tight spot
Jaffar has also ally, mercenary friend or whatever Soukra (1980s bodybuilder Teagan Clive) whose function is to sarcastically comment on Jaffar's failed attempts to destroy Sinbad. The dialogue hints that there was about to be Soukra's and Ali's duel but nothing such ever happens. In the end she is even partying with the heroes, who would have thought about that.
John Steiner and Teagan Clive
Jaffar and Soukra
Undead horrors, Amazons and rock monsters guard the gems. Amazon Queen Farida (Melonee Rodgers) can suck man's will away. And so the Amazon gymnasts capture the whole crew. Amazon Queen goes for the alpha male and vamps Sinbad. But once the curse is broken, the Queen is not so hot anymore. Bye!
Melonee Rodgers
On another island there are undead suits of armour (raising from the dead like the "Blind Dead"), jumping zombies but also eccentric Wizard Nadir (Leo Gullotta) and his nice daughter Kira (Stefania Girolami Goodwin) who gets kidnapped by hideous laser-shooting Zombie King. Jaffar is watching the show so Sinbad boasts like a pro-wrestler everytime he gets a gem. Curiously when there is a fight Sinbad always throws his scimitar away and trusts his muscles instead.
Stefania Girolami Goodwin
Leo Gullotta, Stefania Girolami Goodwin and Lou Ferrigno
Balloon ride
I'm gonna get ya!
Enzo G. Castellari knocks off American Sinbad-films, and even taking couple of sets from Lou Ferrigno's Hercules-films. Dov Seltzer's synth-heavy soundtrack sounds typical for the Italian cinema of the 1980s but it is highly anachronistic for a peplum film.

Whereas the Hercules film tried to take the subject seriously (albeit with unintended hilarity) Sinbad does not even try. The beginning still goes on like a regular peplum, but then it goes into silly mode. Every scene with Jaffar is a riot as he delivers ham like it was Christmas coming. And the dialogue is such that the makers cannot have been serious. Of the crew Bald Cook and Poochie are the comical duo. Originally Luigi Cozzi was going to direct it but Enzo was called instead. The film was made in 1986, but shelved for three years (not a good sign) and in 1989 Cozzi was hired to save what could be saved and complete the unfinished film making the end results even more confusing. The result is an entertaining trainwreck that alternates between awesomely cheesy and so bad it is good. Although the story is childish, echoes from Italo-horror make this difficult to market as a family-oriented film.

This is an incredibly fun movie. And this film has even two Lou Ferrignos!

Rating: So bad it is good or Very good

Starring: Lou Ferrigno, John Steiner, Roland Wybenga, Ennio Girolami, Hal Yamanouchi, Yehuda Efroni, Alessandra Martines, Teagan Clive, Leo Gullotta, Stefania Girolami Goodwin , Donald Hodson, Melonee Rodgers, Cork Hubbert, Romano Puppo, Attilio Cesare Lo Pinto, Armando MacRory, Giada Cozzi, Daria Nicolodi, Ted Rusoff, Massimo Vanni
Directors: Enzo G. Castellari, Luigi Cozzi (uncredited)

Monday, September 25, 2017

Movie Review: The Adventures of Hercules II

The Adventures of Hercules II a.k.a Hercules II a.k.a The Adventures of Hercules (Le avventure dell'incredibile Ercole)
Cannon Italia Srl, Italy, USA, The Netherlands, 1985.
The Adventures of Hercules II
Envious Gods steal Seven Thunderbolts of Zeus and evil forces are released on Earth. Moon is about to collide with Earth so someone has to do something. Humans are sacrificing maidens to Antios the Fire Monster. Sisters Urania (Milly Carlucci) and Glaucia (Sonia Viviani) are trying to destroy the monster and ask help from the little people. The little people tell that Hercules (Lou Ferrigno) can help them. Since the last movie, Hercules has become a constellation but Zeus (Claudio Cassinelli) sends the beefy hero back to Earth. 
Sonia Viviani
Milly Carlucci
Claudio Cassinelli
As soon as Hercules has arrived, he is attacked by a wookie. After punching the stuffing out of it, Hercules finds the first Thunderbolt. Meanwhile rebellious Gods and Goddesses Flora (Laura Lenzi), Poseidon (Ferdinando Poggi), Aphrodite (Margie Newton) and Hera (Maria Rosaria Omaggio) use major blood donation from Atreus (Raf Baldassarre) to resurrect King Minos (William Berger). Meanwhile Glaucia meets Hercules but slime people (eeeww)  have kidnapped Urania (Milly Carlucci). 
Lou Ferrigno
Furry monster
Maria Rosaria Omaggio
Goddess Euryale (Serena Grandi) turns humans into stone. Hercules would make a fine door stopper but he disagrees. Euryale's henchmen green laser men(?!) are only an easy practise. Euryale requires a more careful approach as her gaze is lethal.

The Gods shouldn't have trusted Minos as he and evil scientist Daedalos (Eva Robins) plan to use Ice Sword to destroy the Gods. Hercules also visits Mermaid Thetis (Sandra Venturini) who gives Hercules powers to destroy Antios. But enemies do not finish there as evil amazons and spider queen Arachne (Pamela Prati) make life difficult for Hercules and friends.
William Berger
Sandra Venturini
Margie Newton)
It has the same kind of silly fun as the prequel. The plot does not matter so much, as long as there are wild and crazy events happening. The film is stuffed with mythical creatures, so even most boss battles are quick. Sometimes it feels like a Japanese rubber monster movie, as monsters jump out everywhere like ninjas. And the end fight has King Kong vs Godzilla in space, I'm not kidding. The previous film had Hercules epically pushing apart the continents of Europe and Africa. This time Hercules tops that and pushes apart Earth and Moon when they are about to crash. If a third movie was ever made, what would there have been left to push apart? Galaxies?
Hercules triumphant
Space King Kong vs Space Godzilla
The handmade monster effects of the previous movie are now mostly replaced by animation and rotoscoping effects. But there is a stopmotion fight with Euryale that nods to Ray Harryhausen's Medusa battle in the original "Clash of the Titans." Otherwise the regular enemies are men in rubber suits. I wouldn't be surprised if the slime people- costumes were  leftoevers from zome zombie film.
The filming sets are quite exhilarating. The architecture constantly uses massive heads. We're not in Kansas anymore.

Flora's temple
Euryale's lair
The dimension of the little people
Lou Ferrigno's wife Carla appears as Godddess Athena.
Carla Ferrigno
Rating: Very good

Starring: Lou Ferrigno, Milly Carlucci, Sonia Viviani, William Berger, Carla Ferrigno, Claudio Cassinelli, Ferdinando Poggi, Maria Rosaria Omaggio, Venantino Venantini, Laura Lenzi, Margie Newton, Cindy Leadbetter, Raf Baldassarre, Serena Grandi, Eva Robins, Sandra Venturini, Andrea Belfiore, Alessandra Canale, Pamela Prati, Christina Basili, Paola Marcari
Director: Luigi Cozzi

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Movie Review: Hercules (1983)

Hercules (Ercole)
Cannon Italia Srl, Golan-Globus Productions, Italy, USA, 1983.
The film begins with the creation of the world when Pandora's Jar appears in space. Jar jar breaks and forms the planets. The breaking of the jar releases also evil forces which is bad. In the battle of good and evil the humans must show what they're made of. The Gods living in Moon prepare to watch how the battle will end (only popcorn is missing). Hera (Rossana Podestà) roots for evil and Athene (Delia Boccardo) roots for good. To balance the battle, Zeus (Claudio Cassinelli) creates powerful hero Hercules (Lou Ferrigno)! He is raised in Thebes as son of King. 
Lou Ferrigno
Claudio Cassinelli
Hera's Sacred Sword is stolen and traitors working for King Minos (William Berger) murder Hercules' parents. One of the maids puts baby Hercules into boat (and so Golan-Globus tied this story to the legend of  Moses). Zeus offers a helping hand to keep the boat safe. Hera does not like that and plans to destroy Hercules. And so baby Hercules does his first heroic act by destroying two big rubber snakes. 
Delia Boccardo
Rossana Podestà
A couple of farmers (let's just call them Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru) (Stelio Candelli and Gabriella Giorgelli) find the baby and raises him as their own son. Hercules grows up and trains his strength using Conan's Wheel of Pain Fitness Method(TM). Muscles are useful for farm jobs as the family does not need an ox to plow the field. Also uprooting trees with bare hands is a good workout. Hera's bear kills Uncle Owen (as Hercules' unlucky foster parents are short-lived), so the muscleman throws the pesky teddy into space. And so the constellation of Great Bear was born. 
We do not need ox!
It becomes common that Hercules throws a lot of stuff into space. Here's a log flying through space. 
Space log
King Minos (William Berger) believes in science (Science for the sake of Science!) and asks Daedalus (Eva Robins) to help kill Hercules. Daedalus sends mechanical monsters after Hercules but Minos is clearly unhappy to see how small they are. The first monster does not hurt Hercules but manages to kill Aunt Beru and that makes Hercules angry.
Eva Robins
William Berger
King Minos
There's nothing to gain from farm life, so Hercules seeks to do heroic deeds. Hercules has to prove his strength to King Augeias (Brad Harris). After that he has to clean the stables of 1000 horses. Princess Cassiopeia (Ingrid Anderson) falls in love with him but the gods have other plans. Hera's favourite, naughty Minean Princess Adriana (Sybil Danning) kidnaps Cassiopeia with help from traitorous advisor Dorcon (Yehuda Efroni).
Ingrid Anderson
Yehuda Efroni
Not at all suspicious looking King's Advisor Dorcon
Hercules swims to Sorceress Circe's (Mirella D'Angelo) island. Old granny offers some warm tea, then demands to get a small amount of Hercules' blood. It is a fair trade as the granny turns into beautiful sorceress. Hercules and Circe visit many places and even detach continent of Africa from Europe.
Xenodama, King of Africa (Bobby Rhodes)
After adventuring with Circe, the final quest is rescuing Cassiopeia from Thera. Thera is actually built above Atlantis, so Hercules contributes to the destruction of Atlantis too as collateral damage. Oops!
Nice granny offers some tea
Mirella D'Angelo
Golan-Globus- duo produced a wacky mythical adventure with awesome cheese, vintage special effects and gorgeous women in skimpy dresses. Freely interpreted mythical story is combined with scifi-elements. It is nice that although being often clumsy, the special effects are still old school stop-motion effects. It is not Ray Harryhausen, but it has its moments. Fans of B-grade peplums find a lot of fun in this movie. Hercules fighting a laser-shooting metal centaur on a green planet with three moons shining on the sky, how awesome is that? Interestingly there is a lava pit sacrifice attempt oddly similar to "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" that was made year later. "The Incredible Hulk"-star Lou Ferrigno has Herculean physique, being one of the bulkiest actors to play Hercules, and the script gives him every opportunity to use his muscles. As often in Hercules-movies, the hero has several scenes where he is chained and the he breaks the chains. Lovably camp movie experience throughout.
Metal centaur vs a man with a club
Sybil Danning and Ingrid Anderson
Adriana and Cassiopeia
Saved from the lava pit

Rating: Very good

Starring: Lou Ferrigno, Brad Harris, Sybil Danning, Rossana Podestà, Ingrid Anderson, Mirella D'Angelo, William Berger, Bobby Rhodes, Gianni Garko (as John Garko), Yehuda Efroni, Delia Boccardo, Claudio Cassinelli, Franco Garofalo (as Frank Garland), Gabriella Giorgelli (as Gabriella George), Raf Baldassarre (as Ralph Baldassar), Stelio Candelli (as Steven Candell), Valentina Montanari (as Valerie Montanari), Rocco Lerro (as Roger Larry), Eva Robins (as Eva Robbins, Giovanni Cianfriglia, Anthony La Penna, Edward Mannix, Mindi Miller, Marc Smith, Susan Spafford
Director: Luigi Cozzi

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