Clash of the Olympians [4 Discs] [DVD]

This extensive compilation from Mill Creek Entertainment caters to fans of old mythology-themed movie spectacles by presenting a whopping 23 1/2 hours of entertainment from the 1950s and 1960s, a significant portion of which is occupied by films from the classic Hercules series of movies. Stars of the package include Steve Reeves, Alan Steel, Mark Forest, Gordon Mitchell and Dan Vadis; featured titles include The Giant of Marathon (1959), Ali Baba and the Seven Saracens (1964), Hercules Against the Moon Men (1964), Hercules and the Masked Rider (1963), Herod the Great (1960), and Spartacus and the Ten Gladiators (1964).
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Overview

Synopsis

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

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

Kindar, the Invulnerable
Mark Forest stars in this obscure sword-and-sandal epic as Kindar, a sultan's son who was kidnapped after birth and raised by a rebel leader (Mimmo Palmara). Kindar, who has invulnerable skin, grows to adulthood, falls in love with a woman engaged to his real brother (Renato Rossini appearing as "Red Ross"), and prepares to raid the sultan's village before learning the truth. That sets up a desert battle between the two brothers, whose whip-fight is the film's high point. Osvaldo Civirani's assured direction and some slick action sequences make this a worthwhile entry for genre fans. ~ Robert Firsching, Rovi

Giants of Rome
Steve Reeves clone Richard Harrison stars in the sword 'n' sandal Giants of Rome. The Eternal City is threatened by a modernistic doomsday weapon. Harrison decides to investigate, cutting a swath through various well-armed antagonists. It turns out that the horrible weapon turns out to be little more than an outsized catapult. There was a huge built-in audience for this sort of fare back in 1964, so it hardly matters whether or not Giants of Rome is any good...though it is better than most of its kind. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Erode il Grande
The long-forgotten Italian historical epic Herod the Great (AKA Erode il Grande, 1960), dramatizes the dark final years of the title figure, an evil Judean Tetrarch notorious for sending Christ to the cross in league with Pontius Pilate. The story begins with Herod (Edmond Purdom) and Antony's shared defeat by Rome (when the two men foolishly decide to form an allegiance and go head to head with the colossal Empire), and ends with Herod's slide into insanity following Christ's death. Throughout, the ruler exhibits utter lunacy, raving constantly and spewing forth torrents of unbridled anger; the picture's overtone thus remains bleak, despairing and relentlessly gloomy throughout (take it or leave it). Arnaldo Genoino directs; Damiano Damiani, Federico Zardo, Tourjansky and Fernando Cerchio co-scripted. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi

Hercules and the Captive Women
Hercules (Reg Park) and King Androcles (Ettore Manni) are on an ocean expedition when Androcles is washed overboard during a storm near a mysterious island. Making landfall, Hercules finds that the island is the kingdom of Atlantis, ruled by a beautiful, cruel, and ambitious queen, Antinea (Fay Spain), who controls a mysterious source of power. She has transformed her personal guard into super-strong warriors -- each nearly a match for Hercules, put Androcles under her spell, and inflicted terrible wounds on her people, all in preparation for her plan to conquer the world. Hercules finds that her power stems from a source older than the gods on Olympus, one over which he has virtually no power. He must save his friend, release Antinea's people, and prevent her from carrying out her plans. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

The Avenger
In this sword and sandal adventure, Aeneas and his Trojan warriors take on the evil Etruscans to preserve the honor of their hometown. The tale is also known the Last Glory of Troy. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

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

Ali Baba and the Seven Saracens - Hawk of Bagdad
This may be Ali Baba and the Seven Saracens, but it got to television via one of those "Sons of Hercules" packages. Dan Harrison stars in the title role; the "Seven Saracens" (evidently the budget didn't allow for 40 thieves) is a rebel band, bent on ousting an evil king. Suspecting that Ali Baba is a member of the Saracens, the wicked monarch subjects him to all sorts of deviltry. But our hero survives to vanquish the villain. Released in Italy in 1963, Ali Baba and the Seven Saracens was prepared for American distribution the following year. ~ Hal Erickson, 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

Goliath and the Sins of Babylon
An iconic character goes through a gauntlet of torturous tribulations in this 1963 Italian swords-and-sandals adventure drama. Goliath (portrayed by Mark Forest) is compelled to save several virgins, whose fate is to be served as sacrifical lambs to a group of fighters who have overtaken the land of Babylon. ~ Tom Ciampoli, Rovi

Spartacus and the Ten Gladiators
This Italian sword-and-sandal epic tells the tale of the renegade Spartacus who leads a slave revolt to end the practice of gladiator fighting to the death. ~ Daniel Gelb, Rovi

The Giants of Thessaly
Roland Carey and Massimo Girotti star in this epic retelling of the saga involving Jason and the Argonauts from director (Riccardo Freda). Jason (Roland Carey), who is indebted to the gods, must step into action after a group of invaders and ecological disasters beseige the land of Thessaly. While Jason assembles his men to capture the Golden Fleece as an act of goodwill, a turncoast at home named Adrasto (Alberto Farnese) threatens to still his empire away from him. ~ Tom Ciampoli, Rovi

The Giant of Marathon
Rather than telling a dramatized version of the exploits of the Greek runner Phidippides (or Philippides, as used here), this standard Italian costume drama has the great athlete almost single-handedly defeating the Persians. Set in 490 B.C. when the Persian armies were ready to finish conquering Greece and head into Europe, Phidippides (Steve Reeves, who else?) rallies the Athenians and they fight a series of spectacular, massive battles. In reality, Phidippides had run 140 miles to Sparta and back to ask for their help before any battles began. The Persians had already landed on the plains of Marathon, 26 miles from Athens but thanks to Phidippides forewarning, they were defeated by advancing Athenian forces. Phidippides' final run from Marathon back to Athens to warn them about a second attack by the Persian forces is not depicted in this drama -- that last run on top of the futile, 280-mile round trip to Sparta, cost him his life. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi

Hercules and the Princess of Troy
The special effects and cinematography are perhaps the most impressive attributes of this movie. Zeus' son, Hercules, takes on an angry sea monster to rescue fair maiden in distress. This was a pilot for a television series. ~ Tana Hobart, Rovi

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