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Sword & Muscleman, Vol. 1 [DVD]

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Overview

Synopsis

Hercules and the Masked Rider
Hercules and the Masked Rider stars beefcaker Alan Steel. Since the story takes place in 17th century Spain, we suspect that the character's name wasn't "Hercules" when the film was originally released in Italy. No matter: the steely-eyed Steel is most impressive as he tilts with gypsies and evil dons. Just as impressive is the cleavage displayed by the ladies in the cast. Filmed in 1960, Hercules and the Masked Rider came to America in 1963 as part of TV's Son of Hercules package. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Hercules and the Tyrants of Babylon
This one was also released as Beast of Babylon Against the Son of Hercules. Closer to the truth is the original title: Goliath, King of the Slaves. Ex-Tarzan Gordon Scott plays Goliath, not Hercules (though the film was part of the Sons of Hercules TV package). Ancient Babylonian emperor Balthasar, who was the "good guy" in D.W. Griffith's Intolerance, is here described as the Tyrant of Babylon. He lives up to his title by sacrificing selected citizens of Assyria to the goddess Istar. Scott, the rightful heir to Babylonian throne, is consigned to a life of slavery, but by film's end he does a "Spartacus" and saves everybody. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Hercules Against the Moon Men
In this fantasy, Hercules must fight the dreaded moon men who are sacrificing people in the hopes that their spilled blood will bring back their dead queen. He also battles a terrifying giant with a metal head, and several monsters. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

Ulysses Against the Son of Hercules
In this sword and sandal adventure Hercules takes on Ulysses. During the struggle, the two are abducted by deadly bird-men. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

Maciste Nell'Inferno di Genghis Khan
Filmed in 1960 but not available to American audiences until 1963, Hercules Against the Barbarians was also released as Hercules Against the Barbarian; evidently "pluralism" works best at the box-office. This time the legendary muscleman's toga and sandals are filled by Mark Forest. Somewhat anachronistically, Hercules is called upon to fight off invading Mongol hordes. It's likely that Hercules Against the Barbarians was lensed at the same time as Hercules Against the Mongols; it's equally likely that both films were culled from a longer sword-and-sandal epic. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Hercules Unchained
Steve Reeves' second (and last) film portrayal of Hercules is, in certain ways, better than his first. The plot this time is drawn from the legends surrounding the royal house of Thebes, which are most familiar to audiences through the Theban plays of Sophocles. The movie opens with Hercules, his new bride Iole (Sylva Koscina), and the young Ulysses (Gabriel Antonini) travelling to Thebes following the end of the quest for the Golden Fleece (depicted in the previous movie, Hercules). Their journey is interrupted when Hercules must do battle with the giant Anteus (Primo Carnera), whose strength seems to exceed his own until he realizes that Anteus is the son of the earth goddess and can't be defeated on land. On their arrival in Thebes, the trio discovers that the kingdom is in the midst of civil war -- Oedipus (Cesare Fantoni), the old king, is dying, and his two sons, Polynices and Eteocles, are contending for the throne and threatening to destroy each other and the populace. Hercules must leave Iole in the hands of one side in order to try and settle the dispute between the two would-be kings. While en route between the two armed camps, however, he is put under the spell of Omphale (Sylvia Lopez), the Queen of Lydia, who casts out his memory and takes him as a lover, with Ulysses in tow pretending to be his deaf-mute servant. Ulysses must figure out how to keep himself alive, restore Hercules' memory, get them both out of Omphale's grasp before she tires of Hercules and has him killed (as she has her previous lovers), and get them both back to Thebes before the kingdom is burned to the ground. His solution arrives in the form of his father, Laertes, and Hercules' companions from his voyage for the Golden Fleece. They all escape Omphale's clutches and arrive at Thebes as war has broken out between the two brothers and their armies. In a spectacular denouement, Hercules brings his chariot into the middle of the pitched battle, knocking down assault towers and sweeping cavalry before him to halt the battle. Peace is finally restored on a bittersweet note as the two brothers, Polynices and Eteocles, slay each other. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

Colossus and the Amazon Queen
Two gladiators are captured by an Amazon army, and are forced to fight against invading pirates. ~ John Bush, Rovi

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