Monday, March 14, 2011

Filmic No F_cking Way of the Day: Hercules in the Haunted World (1961)

Many of the films of Mario Bava, one of the 20th century's most brilliant visual stylists, are also packed to the psychosexually twisted gills with fetishized murder, grue, and vertigo-inducing zoom-lens abuse. But it's a sin to miss Bava's scrumptiously glowing chromaticisms, where red is fucking red and blue is always the glowing sky-velvet shade of twilight, and gold is so rich it's better than sex (well, OK, as good as sex). Luckily, Hercules in the Haunted World has none of Bava's usual nastiness but keeps all the juicy eye caviar. The plot demands that Herc (Reg Park), a surprisingly clever sort of mythological strongman, and sassy pal Theseus (George Ardisson) go to Hades in order to save Herc's ailing love Dianira (Leonora Ruffo). To get there, he must secure the Golden Apple from the Great Tree (and what a great tree it is!) in the Land of the Hesperides, which is ruled over by--gads!--Christopher Lee! Things being what they are in myths, Herc also has to contend with ghouls, demons, taciturn rock creatures, and zombies. (This is a partial list.) Never childish or naive, Bava's film will ruin you in the best way for other self-trumpeting "visual feasts."

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