Monday, October 28, 2019

By the Gods!

Halloween week continues here at PEPLUM TV.

Today, it's HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD (1961; Ercole al centro della Terra) starring Reg Park, as Hercules, Christopher Lee, George Ardisson and Leonora Ruffo.

Atmospheric and moody, this PEPLUM was directed by Mario Bava, who excelled in the horror genre. Colourful and yet dark, the story is Hercules has to rescues his wife, Deianira (Ruffo), from the evil clutches of Zico (Christopher Lee). Deianira is in Hades and Hercules and his companion Theseus travel to the underworld to rescue her but they first have to defeat Lico.

The film is filled with elaborate sets and a colourful tapestry of worlds with an atmosphere of horror throughout. This was Reg's second movie, right after HERCULES & THE CAPTIVE WOMEN (1961). Both films would use some of the same sets. Scenes from this movie were reused effectively in HERCULES THE AVENGER (1965) also with Reg. A Spook & Sandal!

Hercules (Reg Park) and Lico (Christopher Lee) are Good and Evil!

Princess Deianira (Leonora Ruffo) is seemingly brought back to life at the start of the film.

A 'rock man' tortures Theseus (George Ardisson)

A view of the underworld

Hercules tries to save Deianira in Hades!


Richard Svensson said...

To me, this movie is an odd blend of thrills and disappointments. It's clear that it had a lower budget than Park's earlier "Hercules and the Captive Women", but that doesn't stop Bava from diving into the ambitious theme of the movie. He's using leftover sets, hanging miniatures in front of the camera, and every optical trick he has in his toolbox. The visuals are thus lovely and impressive, but what lets it down for me is that it seems to be the most sparsely populated Peplum I've seen, perhaps mostly because of the grand backdrop. It seems everyone in Hell was given a day off, except for a few souls who had to stay around to run the place. The Hell of Freda's "The Witche's Curse" seems absolutely elaborate and Dante-esque by comparison.
Having both the Italian original and the US dub, I prefer the original. It seems Chris Lee had the opportunity to dub his own voice in that one.

PEPLUM TV said...

I don't disagree with your comments. You have to remember that many think this is the best PEPLUM film ever so many would disagree with you but as I've always mentioned here at the blog, it's not the best. You're correct about the comparisons with Freda's MACISTE IN HELL and Bava's HAUNTED WORLD. I think HELL is so masterful in many scenes. My main problem with HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD is that I find it very static.