Hercules and the Captive Women


1h 33m 1963

Brief Synopsis

The ever intrepid world-trotting hunk of a man Herc (Hercules to those who are not his friends) saves a beautiful maiden from the hands of an evil creature. She takes him to her home, Atlantis. Herc kicks some butt and saves her from her mother who wants to kill her and from some scary looking blond guys but unfortunately the rest of the inhabitants are destroyed. Do not worry because Herc escapes along with his son, the maiden and an annoying midget.

Film Details

Also Known As
Ercole alla conquista di Atlantide, Hercule à la conquête de l'Atlantide
Release Date
Jan 1963
Premiere Information
Honolulu, Hawaii, opening: 15 Apr 1963
Production Company
Comptoir Français du Film; SPA Cinematografica
Distribution Company
Woolner Bros. Pictures
Country
France

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 33m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.20 : 1

Synopsis

In ancient Greece, soothsayers intrepret strange signs in the sky to mean that a foreign civilization will conquer and enslave their country. Only Androcles, King of Thebes, sails against the enemy. He shanghais Hercules and his son Illus aboard, and while at sea, Hercules succeeds in putting down a mutiny aboard ship. During a storm, Hercules disappears in the mist, and upon reaching a strange shore, he rescues the Princess Ismene from the god Proteus. Accompanying Ismene to Atlantis, Hercules finds Androcles drugged and imprisoned by Antinea, the queen of the island who possesses the power to control men. After learning of Antinea's plan to conquer Greece and rule the world, Hercules discovers the secret of the queen's evil power from one of the high priests, but he is captured and imprisoned with his son. He manages to escape, however, and using his knowledge of the secret, he destroys Antinea and Atlantis. Before the island sinks into the sea, Hercules reaches the ship and is reunited with Illus, Ismene, and Androcles. Together they sail for Greece.

Film Details

Also Known As
Ercole alla conquista di Atlantide, Hercule à la conquête de l'Atlantide
Release Date
Jan 1963
Premiere Information
Honolulu, Hawaii, opening: 15 Apr 1963
Production Company
Comptoir Français du Film; SPA Cinematografica
Distribution Company
Woolner Bros. Pictures
Country
France

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 33m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.20 : 1

Articles

Hercules and the Captive Women/Hercules, Prisoner of Evil - Reg Park Plays Hercules in a Sword and Scandal Double Feature on DVD


This "double dose of mighty muscles" from Retromedia Entertainment rocks a nostalgic vibe from the glory days of B-movie matinees. Yorkshire-born muscleman Reg Park (who lost the Mr. Universe title to Steve Reeves in 1950 only to take it back the following year) is the star of these steely pepla made in Italy in the final years before the spaghetti western stole their exploitation thunder. For its 1963 American release by the Woolner Brothers, Ercole alla conquista di Atlantide (1961) was given the lasciviously beguiling alternate title Hercules and the Captive Women, which is actually something of a bait and switch. The hopes of local hero Hercules (a relaxed, bemused and bearded Park) for "a calm and tranquil life like the rest of the men" are dashed when Thebes is beset by a series of disturbing plagues. Attributing the threat to unknown forces from "beyond the straits," King Androcles (Ettore Manni) proposes to set sail to meet the faceless enemy head on. Denied a fleet or soldiers by his complacent senate (who include A Fistful of Dollars's Gian Maria Volontè, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage's Enrico Maria Salerno and Black Sunday's Ivo Garrani), Androcles goes it alone with a mercenary crew of galley slaves and cutpurses – and Hercules, whom he had drugged and shanghaied. When their pentekontor is wrecked during a freak storm, Hercules makes his way to an uncharted island, where he rescues Princess Ismene (Laura Efrikian) from the clutches of the changeling Proteus. Returning Ismene to her home on Atlantis, Hercules falls under the spell of the wicked Queen Antinea (gimlet-eyed Fay Spain), who had coldly condemned her own daughter to death to fulfill a prophesy promising her dominion over the entire world.

Despite the frivolity of its opening frames and the down-at-heel depiction of a rain of blood by the use of a red filter, this is an especially fun and vigorous production with uncredited effects work by Mario Bava (who would helm Park's follow-up, Hercules in the Haunted World, later that year). Director Vittorio Cottafavi (Vittorio De Sica's AD on The Children are Watching Us) keeps the action moving at a good clip with plenty of man-to-man fights, helter skelter horsemanship and a sulfurous valley of lepers, augmented by the odd supernatural touch – Hercules' pursuit of the specter of the missing Androcles down a long corridor seems like a dry run for a similar revelation gag in Bava's Operazione Paura (US: Kill, Baby... Kill, 1965). Also ahead of their time are a S.P.E.C.T.R.E.-like acid bath punishment for one of Antinea's luckless minions and a stone-encrusted Ismene begging Hercules to kill her, which anticipates an identical exchange between Tom Skerritt and Sigourney Weaver that was cut from Alien (1979) prior to its release. It's a shame that Signors Volontè, Salerno and Garrani have so little to do here...but you can't have everything.

Retromedia's presentation of Hercules and the Captive Women preserves the film's intended widescreen (70mm Techniscope, to be precise) aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (anamorphically-enhanced for widescreen playback). The image is colorful if somewhat dark and skin tones (even under all that bronzing) incline to the pinkish. The source materials suffer from some frame damage and audio drop-outs, but none of this detracts from what is otherwise an enjoyable, sentimental viewing experience.

Widely remembered by Euro-cultists for his evocative Gothic horror films, Antonio Margheriti (aka "Anthony Dawson") also turned his hand to the occasional sword-and-sandal epic. Margheriti was off finishing I gigantic di Roma (The Giants of Rome, 1964) with Richard Harrison and Ettore Manni while his assistant director Ruggero Deodato took the helm of Reg Park's penultimate peplum. (Margheriti later joined the production and estimates put the division of directorial labor at an even 50/50.) When American International Pictures picked up Ursus, il terrore dei Kirghisi (1964), they changed the name of the hero to Hercules and retitled the acquisition Hercules, Prisoner of Evil. Park (sans beard this time out) and Manni (whose hedonistic lifestyle eventually cost him leading man roles and who took his own life in 1979) are together again as brothers shepherding a peaceful agrarian tribe in the Valley of Maleva. This vaguely Eastern European chunk of real estate was once ruled by The Great Khan, until his suspicious demise and the transfer of his title to daughter Amiko (Mireille Granelli) and her ambitious, murderous cousin, Prince Zara (Furio Meniconi, later a familiar face in Euroaters). When the valley is terrorized by a hideous man-beast who leaves only mutilated corpses in his wake, Prince Zara schemes to use the ensuing fear and unrest to make a grab for absolute sovereignty.

It's difficult to rate the film's merits based on this fairly miserable transfer. The image is by turns dark and washed out, with the dominant color being grape (typical of degraded Eastmancolor). Director of photography Gábor Pogány's original Totalscope (2.35:1) framing has been cropped to a panned-and-scanned 1.33:1, which means viewers literally don't know what they're missing. The English dubbing, often ruinously off the mark, seems to have been performed by a staff of notaries and sous-chefs and the dialogue leaves more than a little something to be desired ("And if you get the opportunity, kill Hercules"). On its own merits, Hercules, Prisoner of Evil doesn't seem to be any great shakes either. The sort of querulous, proto-Trinity & Bambino relationship Reg Park and Ettore Mani shared in Hercules and the Captive Women is nonexistent here and Park spends a considerable amount of time missing in action. The supporting cast is also uninspired, making it difficult to distinguish one secondary character from another. Locations are for the most part limited to dingy torch-lit grottos and dingy torch-lit thatch huts and there is much too much running around in the woods. Given that the substandard Hercules, Prisoner of Evil is only along for the ride on the coattails of the superior Hercules and the Captive Women, we see no reason to complain. With even spaghetti westerns not selling big numbers for DVD companies like Anchor Bay and Blue Underground, the more modestly funded Retromedia is to be lauded for this gift to fans of the slimmest of niche markets.

For more information about Hercules and the Captive Women, visit Image Home Entertainment. To order Hercules and the Captive Women, go to TCM Shopping.

by Richard Harland Smith
Hercules And The Captive Women/hercules, Prisoner Of Evil - Reg Park Plays Hercules In A Sword And Scandal Double Feature On Dvd

Hercules and the Captive Women/Hercules, Prisoner of Evil - Reg Park Plays Hercules in a Sword and Scandal Double Feature on DVD

This "double dose of mighty muscles" from Retromedia Entertainment rocks a nostalgic vibe from the glory days of B-movie matinees. Yorkshire-born muscleman Reg Park (who lost the Mr. Universe title to Steve Reeves in 1950 only to take it back the following year) is the star of these steely pepla made in Italy in the final years before the spaghetti western stole their exploitation thunder. For its 1963 American release by the Woolner Brothers, Ercole alla conquista di Atlantide (1961) was given the lasciviously beguiling alternate title Hercules and the Captive Women, which is actually something of a bait and switch. The hopes of local hero Hercules (a relaxed, bemused and bearded Park) for "a calm and tranquil life like the rest of the men" are dashed when Thebes is beset by a series of disturbing plagues. Attributing the threat to unknown forces from "beyond the straits," King Androcles (Ettore Manni) proposes to set sail to meet the faceless enemy head on. Denied a fleet or soldiers by his complacent senate (who include A Fistful of Dollars's Gian Maria Volontè, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage's Enrico Maria Salerno and Black Sunday's Ivo Garrani), Androcles goes it alone with a mercenary crew of galley slaves and cutpurses – and Hercules, whom he had drugged and shanghaied. When their pentekontor is wrecked during a freak storm, Hercules makes his way to an uncharted island, where he rescues Princess Ismene (Laura Efrikian) from the clutches of the changeling Proteus. Returning Ismene to her home on Atlantis, Hercules falls under the spell of the wicked Queen Antinea (gimlet-eyed Fay Spain), who had coldly condemned her own daughter to death to fulfill a prophesy promising her dominion over the entire world. Despite the frivolity of its opening frames and the down-at-heel depiction of a rain of blood by the use of a red filter, this is an especially fun and vigorous production with uncredited effects work by Mario Bava (who would helm Park's follow-up, Hercules in the Haunted World, later that year). Director Vittorio Cottafavi (Vittorio De Sica's AD on The Children are Watching Us) keeps the action moving at a good clip with plenty of man-to-man fights, helter skelter horsemanship and a sulfurous valley of lepers, augmented by the odd supernatural touch – Hercules' pursuit of the specter of the missing Androcles down a long corridor seems like a dry run for a similar revelation gag in Bava's Operazione Paura (US: Kill, Baby... Kill, 1965). Also ahead of their time are a S.P.E.C.T.R.E.-like acid bath punishment for one of Antinea's luckless minions and a stone-encrusted Ismene begging Hercules to kill her, which anticipates an identical exchange between Tom Skerritt and Sigourney Weaver that was cut from Alien (1979) prior to its release. It's a shame that Signors Volontè, Salerno and Garrani have so little to do here...but you can't have everything. Retromedia's presentation of Hercules and the Captive Women preserves the film's intended widescreen (70mm Techniscope, to be precise) aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (anamorphically-enhanced for widescreen playback). The image is colorful if somewhat dark and skin tones (even under all that bronzing) incline to the pinkish. The source materials suffer from some frame damage and audio drop-outs, but none of this detracts from what is otherwise an enjoyable, sentimental viewing experience. Widely remembered by Euro-cultists for his evocative Gothic horror films, Antonio Margheriti (aka "Anthony Dawson") also turned his hand to the occasional sword-and-sandal epic. Margheriti was off finishing I gigantic di Roma (The Giants of Rome, 1964) with Richard Harrison and Ettore Manni while his assistant director Ruggero Deodato took the helm of Reg Park's penultimate peplum. (Margheriti later joined the production and estimates put the division of directorial labor at an even 50/50.) When American International Pictures picked up Ursus, il terrore dei Kirghisi (1964), they changed the name of the hero to Hercules and retitled the acquisition Hercules, Prisoner of Evil. Park (sans beard this time out) and Manni (whose hedonistic lifestyle eventually cost him leading man roles and who took his own life in 1979) are together again as brothers shepherding a peaceful agrarian tribe in the Valley of Maleva. This vaguely Eastern European chunk of real estate was once ruled by The Great Khan, until his suspicious demise and the transfer of his title to daughter Amiko (Mireille Granelli) and her ambitious, murderous cousin, Prince Zara (Furio Meniconi, later a familiar face in Euroaters). When the valley is terrorized by a hideous man-beast who leaves only mutilated corpses in his wake, Prince Zara schemes to use the ensuing fear and unrest to make a grab for absolute sovereignty. It's difficult to rate the film's merits based on this fairly miserable transfer. The image is by turns dark and washed out, with the dominant color being grape (typical of degraded Eastmancolor). Director of photography Gábor Pogány's original Totalscope (2.35:1) framing has been cropped to a panned-and-scanned 1.33:1, which means viewers literally don't know what they're missing. The English dubbing, often ruinously off the mark, seems to have been performed by a staff of notaries and sous-chefs and the dialogue leaves more than a little something to be desired ("And if you get the opportunity, kill Hercules"). On its own merits, Hercules, Prisoner of Evil doesn't seem to be any great shakes either. The sort of querulous, proto-Trinity & Bambino relationship Reg Park and Ettore Mani shared in Hercules and the Captive Women is nonexistent here and Park spends a considerable amount of time missing in action. The supporting cast is also uninspired, making it difficult to distinguish one secondary character from another. Locations are for the most part limited to dingy torch-lit grottos and dingy torch-lit thatch huts and there is much too much running around in the woods. Given that the substandard Hercules, Prisoner of Evil is only along for the ride on the coattails of the superior Hercules and the Captive Women, we see no reason to complain. With even spaghetti westerns not selling big numbers for DVD companies like Anchor Bay and Blue Underground, the more modestly funded Retromedia is to be lauded for this gift to fans of the slimmest of niche markets. For more information about Hercules and the Captive Women, visit Image Home Entertainment. To order Hercules and the Captive Women, go to TCM Shopping. by Richard Harland Smith

Quotes

Today is dedicated to Uranus!
- Ismene

Trivia

Notes

Opened in Rome in August 1961 as Ercole alla conquista di Atlantide; running time: 101 min; in Paris in February 1962 as Hercule à la conquête de l'Atlantide; running time: 98 and 100 min. Originally shown in 70mm Supertechnirama.