Sunday, September 03, 2006


Maciste e la Regina di Samar (Hercules Against The Moon Men)
Year; 1964

Director & Writer; Giacomo Gentilomo
Country; Italy & France
Duration; 90 minutes [Italy]
Original Ratio; (2:35:1)
Available; DVD Region 1 Something Weird Video DVD release.
Colour * Widescreen * English Dub * In glorious 'Cromoscope' *

Hercules Against the Moon Men (USA)Hercules and the Queen of Samar (International: English title) (informal literal title)Hercules vs. the Moon Men (International: English title)Maciste contre les hommes de pierre (France)Maciste et la reine de Samar (France)Maciste vs. the Moon Men (International: English title)Maciste vs. the Stone Men (International: English title)

The Players;Sergio Ciani [Maciste (Hercules) (as Alan Steel)] Jany Clair [Queen Samara ]Anna Maria Polani [Agar] Nando Tamberlani [Claudis] Delia D'Alberti [Billis] Jean-Pierre Honoré [Derax] Stefano Carletti [Mogol] Roberto Ceccacci [Redolphis]Anna Maria Dionisi [Tavernkeeper's Wife] Attilio Dottesio [Remar] Franco Morici [Timor] Paola Piretti [Taris] Giuliano Raffaelli [Tavernkeeper] Goffredo Unger [Tarin]

I am going to seem very ungrateful. Nearly every movie of peplum orientation I have lamented how most, if not all, need widescreen ‘decent’ treatment, this version under review has such. The film itself is a different kettle of fish; I found this a weak entry despite the promising title and the odd sci-fi orientated plot.

My first nag is that it’s almost an hour into the movie do we get our monies worth. The build up before has the odd ‘action’ sequence but relies heavily too much on prolonged cave chases and chit-chat. My second moan is that for some reason I found the dub annoying, the voice-overs seem too ‘contemporary’, the level dominates over the film score and the acoustic effects and seems in desperate need of a better ‘mix’.

Although the narrative plods along at a fair pace the movie just seems to ‘lack something’. All the ‘staple’ peplum motif is apparent and up to this point in time had been tried and tested, the production values seem polished enough but there is an inescapable ‘dullness’ throughout that smothers the directive intention.

What is pleasing are the effective vista shots, using exceptional attention to the unusual terrain and a homage to Bava in the pilgrimage of Hercules et al to the mountain of death. Gentilomo seems to know he is doing well as these sequences are milked for all that they are worth and seem to go on for a bloody long time.

Alan Steel plays the demi-god this time and despite achieving Herculean feats is quite uninteresting and lacks character dynamics that could make the role his very own. There’s not much substance there at all as Steel just carries out his role and offers very little else.

The tyrant Queen Samara is another let down, she too lacks the general allure and witchery of her cinematic forebears and where the other characters commanded respect and fear, Samara seems to be a neurotic fat faced owl most of the time.

Giacomo Gentilomo does try to achieve some effort with a little budget but seems terribly ‘over’ ambitious and visually, little funding is clearly evident. Due to the lack of finances or sheer lacklustre the ending comprises of a series of stock footage disasters. These have seen better days and despite the tender loving care being evidential on the whole to other frames these are scratchy, sore-thumb prints that do stick out from the rest regarding quality.

The creatures range from the inventive, hokum bred ‘Rock Monsters’ to an embarrassing ape creature with two huge jaw fangs. Unfortunately the Rock Monsters are foolishly underused and really only demonstrate their full destructive potential at the end of the film.

In the ‘aliens’ domain Gentilomo films through an iridescent green filter. Although this doesn’t sound all that inspiring it does add to the memorability and ethereal feel in such sequences. At least the director achieved something commendable out of the slapdash.

Over-ambitious, overlong but otherworldly ‘Hercules vs. The Moon Men’ is relatively unique in plot and adventure but unfortunately these do not save the film from venturing into the ‘bland cash-in’ status. It has potential but on the whole is a take or leave, hit and miss affair.

A meteorite crashes into the ancient place of Sumar. The inhabitants ‘The Moon Men’ set up home in ‘The Mountain of Death’, from there they tuck into the local population for sacrificial offerings.

This behaviour is condoned by Queen Samara who has struck a deal with the ‘Moon Men’, they offer her the position of the most powerful woman in the world once their inanimate queen returns to life causing an apocalypse destroying most life on the planet.

The Moon Queen is the spitting image of Princess Billis, Samara’s step sister. Billis is pure in heart and good to the core so therefore is a highly prized want of the Moon Men as her uncanny resemblance would prove be the ultimate life force their Queen needs in order for her to regenerate.

Billis will be drained of blood distributing all the nutrients needed to the cadaver and with the energies from Uranus will return to life once more.

Hercules is mortified by all of this and journeys to Queen Samara but is victim to several ‘traps’ and a moth eaten ape creature. He takes on the rock creatures and the powers of the moon men and appears to be victorious until the scheming Queen laces his wine with a powerful aphrodisiac which will turn Hercules into her love slave.

Whilst Hercules falls under the Queen’s seduction technique, Samar and it’s innocent inhabitants brace themselves for the end of the world…………..

Available in a pristine print from Something Weird Video DVD (Buy from this link). Region 1 only. There is also a bonus feature film extra ‘The Witch’s Curse’, reviewed later.

Personally I would shell out on Something Weird Video’s ‘Goliath and the Dragon’ for much of the same but a lot less disappointing.

Praise indeed to SWV for releasing this movie in such a decent quality, it’s a shame they did not choose more wisely when it came to the feature.

This was the directors last film project and he pursued a career as a painter, let’s hope he was more successful at that.


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