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HERCULES (1983) - 3 Slimes
Rated PG
Copyright 1983 Cannon Films
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 23 April 2006

The Characters:  

  • Hercules - I wonder if Lou Ferrigno ever felt typecast? Naw...
  • Cassiopeia - No wonder that Hercules falls in love with her, especially when she is wearing that white sacrificial getup that make her breasts look like a countertop. I was thankful when she removed her veil, because it looked more like a death shroud and was creeping me out.
  • Circe - A comely sorceress who was trapped on a remote island by King Minos' treachery. She spent the time perfecting her shell jewelry skills and blacksmithing armor that intimately fits her body. Zapped.
  • Zeus - This guy needed to make up his mind.
  • Athena - What the heck is stuck to her back?
  • Hera - Supporter of evil who curses the day Hercules was born. Mostly on account of him chucking her minions into space.
  • Daedalus - Supreme god of science, though she hates magic and gods. Her only claim to science is the mechanical beasts she created to kill Hercules. However, they all appear to be magical. I get a headache just thinking about it.
  • King Minos - Cruel ruler of Thira, of which Atlantis is the capital. Wields an amazing firecracker sword, but is hacked to death.
  • Adriana - Sybil Danning wearing a nursing leotard. Skewered by the same sword that killed her daddy (she was Minos' daughter). She turns into ash and bones after her death.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

This movie is, without a doubt, one of the most insane sword and sandal films ever made. Just look at the beginning, with the narrator going on about a whacky creationist theory as brightly colored stars and other special effects play across the screen. To the best of my ability, I am going to tell you about how the universe began (according to Lewis Coates). First there was Darkness, then an explosion. The explosion started the Fire of Chaos. Flaming entropy combined with Darkness (some was left over from before) to create the four elements: Night, Day, Matter, and Wind. Spinning in from nowhere, came Pandora's Jar. (And it looks like a clay amphora converted into a space station.) The jar exploded and the shards become The Planets. The last to form was Earth, where life was abundant. However, before all else, The Gods materialized upon the moon and immediately began dabbling in the affairs of mortal men. Zeus seized on the idea that the forces of evil were strengthened by the powers released when Pandora's Jar broke. The forces of good needed a champion. Thus, from pure light, was created Hercules.

I forgot to mention that the ball of light that is Hercules' essence descends from the heavens and coalesces inside the body of an infant, the son of the king of Thebes. Presumably, the infant's soul is cast out of his body and left to cry indignantly as it is swallowed by the abyss.

Now, Thebes is not all milk and honey. Aided by Adriana and a shortbow wielding rogue, the captain of the palace guard stages a bloody coup. Baby Hercules is only saved through the selfish sacrifice of a servant. She, like the one old woman from "Willow," dies on the bank of a river as the current carries the baby's boat away. Unfortunately, the woman forgot about the raging waterfall downstream. Zeus intervenes and catches the plummeting boat, briefly pulling the entire handful through his reflecting pool (how the gods watch the events unfolding) to gaze at his son. Thankfully, Zeus' godly powers keep the infant from freezing solid or hemorrhaging in the vacuum. Hera starts complaining about interfering in mortal affairs, so daddy drops Hercules back into the river, but past the waterfall. This annoys the goddess for some reason, so she sends a pair of lix to kill the baby. The slimy black monsters are no match for Hercules' mighty grip; he squeezes their heads off. Impressive strength for a baby. I imagine that the queen of Thebes was glad for a wet nurse. "No, don't bite, don't bite! Ahhhhhhh!"

Forget about the new king of Thebes sitting on his bloodstained and ill-gotten throne, because you never see him again.

So, we all know how this part of the story goes. Hercules is found and adopted by a farmer and his wife. He grows up big and mighty, often wondering from where his amazing strength comes from and for what purpose. Eventually, one fateful day, he is helping his father cut down wood and a bear mauls the old man to death. (This is where it gets good.) Not only does Hercules pummel the bear to death, but he grabs the carcass and chucks it into orbit! Hahahahaha! Really, there is a shot of the Earth from space, with a rapidly ascending dead ursine speeding into, then past, your field of view. Granted, it impacts on that black surface that surrounds the Earth and turns into a constellation, but still.

It turns out that the bear was sent by Hera to kill humanity's champion and that she has been doing this on the regular. All of the others were vanquished and hurled into space. The goddess just got lucky and managed to kill daddy this time. Since her elite bear assassin did not work, Hera tasks King Minos (who had a hand in the Thebes bloodshed) to kill Hercules. He calls upon Daedalus and, after a brief conversation about serving gods that he should not believe in, her solution is a trio of tiny mechanical monsters. Minos is just as skeptical as the audience is about the toys, but Daedalus explains that they will grow once in contact with the atmosphere. (All of this apparently occurs on the moon.) Why Minos is not convulsing in agony from lack of oxygen is beyond me. What he does do is start babbling about relativity. Daedalus exclaims, "Exactly!" and then sends a flying widget to eradicate Hercules. It fails, because he pokes it with a large piece of timber.

Yes, I know, relativity has little to do with clockwork automatons. The writer was not as intelligent as Einstein. Well, duh...

Hercules' adoptive mother was killed by the flying gadget, so he finally decides there is nothing remaining for him in the little cottage by the woods. He lights a funeral pyre for mom and continues with that motif, setting his empty house on fire. The sad hero leaves his homeland to try his strength in a tournament. He easily wins the contest, even crushing the spleens of a dozen wrestlers by trapping them against a rock wall with a log. Right after that, guess where the log goes. Chucked into orbit! Right! Anyway, the tournament was being held to find a bodyguard for Cassiopeia. As a final test, that of trustworthiness, he must clean the Augean Stables in just one day. Cassiopeia visits Hercules in the stables and is not surprised to find him sitting and the place still filthy. We all know that he blocks up a river and causes it to course through the stables, leaving them white and supreme. Now, there was something of a side bet going on here. Cassiopeia always wears a veil, because the first man who sees her face shall be her husband. The stout protagonist made her promise that, if he cleaned the stables, she would remove her veil. Well, she takes it off. At this point the director had the great idea of filming Hercules and Cassiopeia lovingly gazing into each other's eyes. The scene seems to go on forever. It is like watching velvet art. I was overjoyed when Adriana arrived, Hercules was knocked out, and both of the lovebirds taken aboard a waiting ship. The bad guys dump the massive champion over the side with little fanfare.

No, he does not drown. Instead, he swims ashore on a remote island and is confronted by an old crone who provides him shelter and food. In return, he allows her to bleed out ten drops of his blood and drink them. Then the nasty looking witch turns into a beautiful sorceress. Even though the story continues to work toward Hercules reaching Atlantis and saving his bride-to-be, the entire section with Circe feels like a side plot. This is probably due to her convincing him to enter Hell and retrieve her magic charm, Circe falling in love with Hercules, and also taking him to see King Xenodama about pushing Africa and Europe apart. Oh, and do not forget the silly chants that Circe uses whenever she casts a spell. Those are choice.

I should stop to warn desperate men about letting ugly old women drink their blood. Despite the movie, your hemoglobin will not transform her into a randy little sorceress. What you will have is a nasty hag, with stained lips, who probably has serious mental health problems.

To get to Circe's magic charm, Hercules has to battle the three-headed guardian of Hell. That would be a giant mechanical hydra. (You were expecting something else?) He does so and they cross the lake Styx to Castle Greyskull. Inside our burly hero retrieves the talisman from behind a twofold magic barrier. The first part makes your arm appear to be on fire, while the second part covers it with ice. We are given reason to believe that some uncomfortable physical sensations accompany the visual effects of pushing your limb through the shield. He finally gets the thing and we can continue with the plot.

Even with her augmented powers, Circe cannot transport Hercules to Atlantis. King Minos' magical protections are far too powerful. This troubles me, because it actually makes sense, which puts it at odds with everything else in the movie. Anyway, King Xenodama has a magical chariot which can transport them to Atlantis. The king's price for the chariot is splitting apart a huge rock edifice. Circe enchants the big muscleman, causing him to grow to the size of a titan. He then pushes the rocks apart and wins the chariot. Unfortunately, it does not come with magic horses. No problem. A length of rope is used to attach the chariot to a large rock. Hercules then chucks the rock into space, causing them to be pulled along. In order to get to another point in the Mediterranean, they travel out past Mars, through the asteroid belt, and finally loop back to Earth to land near Atlantis. Egad. Just be glad that the plot finally delivered us to a point near the end, though there is still goofiness to come.

"Hercules" is a fun movie, though it is terrible on many levels. The acting is survivable (actually, it is better than Lou's "Sinbad of the Seven Seas") at best. The special effects are random, but oh my goodness is the story over the top. My favorite bit has to be Hercules' anger management issues causing him to chuck stuff into orbit. A bear! What is the orbital decay rate of a grizzly? Just imagine NASA warning the shuttle about something that has been spotted on radar.

Houston: "Discovery, we are picking up a large piece of debris heading straight for you. Please confirm and maneuver to a safe trajectory."
Discovery: "Roger Houston, the object is coming into view now. OH MY GOD!"
(All of this assumes that the bear is in a nearly identical orbit and speed as the shuttle. If not, there is the possibility that they would get clipped at 17,000 miles per hour by a hunk of ursine ice. Talk about FOD.)

NASA discovering odd items in orbit would cause a lot of consternation. The very thought of a such a press conference, detailing stuff that made Hercules mad and was subsequently chucked into space, gives me the giggles. What sort of stuff? My best guesses: a bear, a log, a broken sandal, a difficult to open jar of olives, and his mother-in-law.

There was also a darn funny part where a spear is chucked at Adriana and completely misses Instead, it pierces an unsuspecting handmaid who is standing behind the evil woman (she must be a Gemini). You would have to see it, but that part is amazingly funny.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • The four elements are night, day, matter, and air.
  • An hourglass functions perfectly in the absence of gravity.
  • Lasers shoot from Hercules' fists whenever he punches something, because he is made of light.
  • Lou Ferrigno looks decidedly unheroic when he runs.
  • Hell, not a pot of gold, is at the end of the rainbow.
  • Erector sets make some darn annoying sounds.
  • There is a good reason that the space shuttle does not use hemp rope anywhere in its construction.
  • Atlantis was built on a mound of magic sand.
  • Greek warriors often wore lamet cloaks.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • Opening Credits - Produced by Golan and Globus and written and directed by Lewis Coates. Talk about a perfect storm.
  • 15 mins - "I said 'him' you idiot! Does she look like a 'him?'"
  • 21 mins - Just wait until he figures out that those vines are poison ivy.
  • 26 mins - It must be running Windows ME.
  • 46 mins - Somebody teach that boy how to swim!
  • 58 mins - Did they have to model that camelt...bulge in Circe's bronze outfit?
  • 62 mins - "Fear is the mind-killer."
  • 76 mins - Wait, I thought that the volcano was the source of your power.
  • 89 mins - Looks like a bad grill fire.
  • Ending Credits - They had a cameraman whose last name was "Shakey."


  • Narrator: "Thus, with the help of the gods, Hercules and the sorceress created the great continents by separating Europe from Africa."
  • Minos: "And Daedalus, I promise you, the next time I call on you will be for the final showdown. Not science in service of the gods, but science to eliminate the gods."

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note herculeslou1.wav Narrator: "But the first beings that the mists of creation brought forth were not men. They were of the supreme essence and became gods. They claimed the moon as their home."
Green Music Note herculeslou2.wav Hercules: "Why am I stronger than other men? Why does my strength bring so many sorrows on head?"
Green Music Note herculeslou3.wav Daedalus and Minos talking magical techno-babble.
Green Music Note herculeslou4.wav Hercules: "The phoenix is free from the evil that held it prisoner. Its fire is free now to serve the universe."
Cassiopeia: "The world has nothing more to fear."
Hercules: "Neither do I, with you in my arms."

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipherculeslou1.mpg - 2.7m
Watch in awe as Hercules uses a handy anchor to bash a mechanical centaur that shoots laser beams from its bow. Explaining how an anchor of that design came to be in ancient Greece should be the least of anyone's worries here.

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