Blu-ray Review: Hercules and the Captive Women (1961)

May 9, 2021

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Affable, nonchalant, and totally sleepy-AF Hercules (Reg Park, in his debut in the role) sets sail (along with his son Hylas… who looks to be the same age as our star, and Timoteo the comedy-relief dwarf… who at the least is considerably shorter than our star) and to find out why the skies of Greece are occasionally redder than a baboon’s ass. One nasty storm later, and our heroes find themselves on an island where women are fused with stone walls, and within seconds Hercules has to tangle with a snake, a lion, a vulture, and a lizard man… like every other Tuesday.
Anyway, Herc soon finds himself at the bee-hived mercy of Antinea the Queen of Atlantis (Fay Spain) who is making a race of eyebrow-less Aryan super-men thanks to a magic rock  (which contains the blood of Uranus, which will undoubtedly prove to be a real pain in the ass)… do you people reading these things ever stop and realize the absolute ridiculousness I have to type on a regular basis?
Will Herc lift various heavy objects to survive? Yes.
What works with Hercules and the Captive Women? More than you may suspect actually. For starters, Park is one of the most friendly, laid-back Hercules to ever stride across the silver screen on sandaled feet. Sure he lazes about for a a large portion of the film, but I’ll be damned if that doesn’t make him even more appealing. He’s like a Demi-God that just wants to smoke the good shit and deal with the occasional problem only when he absolutely has to.
Also in the positive column, the sets and costumes presented here are absolutely top-notch… hell there is one set so massive I thought Hercules was supposed to be shrunk down or some such shit… but no, the filmmakers just constructed absolutely mammoth sets, and they are jaw-dropping.
There are plenty of fun set-pieces too, including the aforementioned island of horrors, deadly traps, chariot action… pretty much all you could ask for from a sword and sandal affair such as this one.
I also dug the make-up used on the baddies; they look slightly deformed with their pronounced brows and dead-eyes… it produces a sort of Universal Frankenstein’s monster effect, and gives them an air of menace before they even get up to the bad guy biz.
As fun as the feature is, The Film Detective have thrown on some solid bonus material on this Blu-ray release to add to the good times!
First up we get a mini-doc taking a look at Italy’s Hercules films, followed by an intro to the film recorded by Mystery Science Theater 3000‘s TV’s Frank, Frank Conniff.
Speaking of MST3K, their viewing of the film is included here as well, as is an audio commentary courtesy of Video Watchdog‘s Tim Lucas who provides a fact filled and lively  examination of the film’s production.
Coming at the ass-end of the heyday of cinematic peplum, Hercules and the Captive Women is anything but a weak entry in a dying genre; rather it is an epic, beautiful cinematic dose of pure escapism that is a delight to watch!

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