Hercules Against the Moon Men (1964)

Rating:

aka Maciste Vs the Stone Men (Maciste E La Regina Di Samar)

Italy/France. 1964.

Crew

Director – Giacomo Gentilomo, Producer – Luigi Mondello, Music – Carlo Franci, Special Effects – Ugo Amadoro. Production Company – Nike Cinematografica/Comptoir Francais du Productions Cinematographiques

Cast

Alan Steel (Hercules), Anna Maria Polani (Queen Samara), Jany Clair (Agar), Nando Tamberlini (Claudius), Delia D’Alberti (Princess Billys)


Plot

A moon rock has fallen to Earth in Samar and stone creatures have emerged and taken over Mount Samara. Queen Samara has instituted sacrifices of the locals to these Moon Men. Samara’s advisor Claudius begs her to ask help of Hercules. When she refuses to do so, he calls upon Hercules himself. When Hercules arrives, Samara plots to kill him as part of her scheme to abduct and sacrifice her sister Princess Billys so that the Moon Men’s queen Selena might return to life.


Hercules Against the Moon Men was one of a vast number of mythological musclemen movies (peplum) that emerged from Italy following the surprise international success of the Steve Reeves Hercules (1958). There were literally dozens of Hercules films made, as well as numerous Samson, Maciste, Goliath and Ulysses films, with the names of the musclemen heroes sometimes being changed in international release to add to the confusion. Hercules Against the Moon Men is case in point – it didn’t even start out as a Hercules film but featuring Maciste, a popular Italian muscleman hero from the silent era who was revived in a number of films after the success of Hercules. Maciste was not a character known in the English language and so US distributors simply retitled the character and passed Moon Men off as a Hercules film.

Though nominally drawn from the Greek mythic hero, fantastic elements rarely featured in these Hercules films. (Maciste was never given an origin in any of the films but some of them spuriously claimed that Maciste was another name for Hercules). According to myth, Hercules is the human son of Zeus and had incredible physical prowess but by the time of the peplum films, he is simply a brawny mortal muscle-builder and roving do-gooder. Certainly, Hercules Against the Moon Men is one of the few occasions upon which the Hercules films included some fantastic elements.

Hercules Against the Moon Men seems an odd blend of peplum and the alien invader film. The Moon Men sequences do give the film its few moments of imaginative flourish with the alien invaders led by a robotic creature with a metal face and its minions that are three-metre tall rock creatures. There is the odd imaginative sequence – like a scene where Hercules is tortured in a giant set of jaws being squeezed together by slaves. The film does briefly attain the titanic nature of the mythic Hercules at the climax with Alan Steel picking up the rock creatures and throwing them around and then borrowing a page from Samson and bringing the whole cave crashing down.

On the other hand, Hercules Against the Moon Men is dull. It is poorly directed and photographed and many scenes simply fail to work on any level. There is a sequence where Hercules is trapped in a pit slowly being filled with water – but instead of feeling suspense for his situation, one wonders why he doesn’t simply wait until the water rises to the point that he can just float up to the top and walk away. The climactic sequences with Hercules struggling across blasted windblown plains are dull and boring. The fight sequences, which seem to consist of no more than Alan Steel throwing people around, are tawdry. As with most of the actors in these films, hero Alan Steel (in actuality American-Italian Sergio Ciani) is brawny and inexpressive.



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