Sunday, September 10, 2006

XX. ERCOLE CONTRO MOLOCK (HERCULES VS. THE MOLOCH) (1963)



Ercole contro Molock (Hercules vs. The Moloch)
Year; 1963

Director & Writer; Giorgio Ferroni / Remigio Del Grosso
Country; Italy & France
Duration; 91 minutes / 75 minutes (Portugal 'hack')
Original Ratio; (2:35:1)
Available; DVD Region 1 Trimark DVD release.
DVD Aspects; Colour * Fullscreen * English Dub * In glorious 'Euroscope' (well should be) *

Alternative; Conquest of Mycene (USA) Conquista di Micene, La (Italy) (alternative title)
Hercule contre Moloch (France) Hercules Against Moloch (USA) Hercules vs. the Molloch (USA) Hercules Vs. The Moloch (USA)

The Players; Gordon Scott (Glauco/Hercules), Rosalba Neri (Pasifae), Michel Lemoine (Oineo), Arturo Dominici, Jany Clair, Alessandro Panaro, Nerio Bernardi.



This is another cash-in riding on the success of the Hercules cinematic hit machine. It’s quite a decent little flick too retelling very, very, very loosely the Minotaur legend.

Rumour has it that Mario Bava leant a hand in some of the sequences. There’s a psychedelic sequence involving pretty bongo playing women that has that Bava touch but I can’t understand if he did have anything to do with the film why he wouldn’t want his name credited somewhere.

Due to Bava’s previous applauded film outings that received critical acclaim it is also a wonder why the producers didn’t insist too.

I feel Ferroni is presenting more of homage to Bava but as all of this is unclear we can guess and be satisfied with our own individual rationales.

Carlo Rustichelli provides the decent cinematic score which lifts the occasional dull set pieces to bearable.

The Moloch creature of the title is a surprisingly striking villain and seems more like an Egyptian god in representation.

Unfortunately what lies underneath the mask is excruciatingly funny and seems to let down the fine proceedings before it. A minor affectation on the whole.

There are some surprisingly macabre touches to the character too such as his penchant for defacing the victims before their death, believing all beauty is offensive. This is achieved by deformed claw like nails and in one brief scene we get to see a glimpse of the aftermath.

Gordon Scott plays the titular hero and performs his role with enough ebullience to hold an interest, he seems well casted to play this type of role. Scott also brings a wholesome ‘valiant’ side to the Hercules/Glaucus role, clashing beautifully with the unsavoury, mentally unstable Moloch.

The plot is quite convoluted but makes sense with a bit of focus and demonstrates the corruption of power when deformed mortals are hailed as gods.

Ferroni also went behind the lens on the other peplum movie ‘The Trojan Horse’.

Ancient Mycenae suffers a terrible earthquake. The temple of Moloch is also destroyed and the mysterious ‘priests’ flee from the ruins.

The king is fatally injured and with his dying wish puts his pregnant wife Queen Pasifae in charge and their stepdaughter Medea into her care.

Pasifae’s offspring is born hideously deformed and disfigured, due to the trauma of the quake. Mycenae is built again and this time also makes the architecture virtually impregnable.

Understandable, when we get to know how many nearby cities it manages to piss off. We learn how the Mycenaens are regularly kidnapping their young, dehydrating the rest of the civilians and their general overall cruel tyranny.

In 20 years the city grows and once again becomes the most affluent, dominant and monocratic societies it once was.

Pasifae joins forces with the cult of Moloch and with the cult’s advice and assistance raises the child as the living embodiment of the god incarnate.

His face is encased in a dog-like metal mask and his home happens to be the underground of Mycenae.

The youth of the surrounding areas are regularly harvested where they are presented to the faux deity for his cruel pursuits of disfigurement, archery practice and sacrifice.

In the city of Tyrins, a powerful, righteous gladiator named Glaucus returns from seeing the horrors inflicted by the Mycenaean’s and decides it has to stop.

He manages to get into the city disguised under the pseudonym of Hercules by volunteering for another bout of Moloch sacrifice.

His amazing strengths and demonstration of pectorial prowess enamours the Queen but in true Hercules fashion he falls for the purer and sensitive Princess Medea.

This enrages Pentius, the head of the Mycenae army who also is in love with Medea. When he forces her to marry him Hercules steps in and prevents it.

Enraged and jealous Pasifae sends Hercules to an arena where he will fight in mortal combat to the death and Medea as a handmaiden in the Temple of Gaea, Mother Earth.

Mycenae successfully shit kicks Tyrins to victory, Hercules is told about the defeat and Medea is told she is to be sacrificed.

As the sacrifice starts Hercules’ anti-Moloch propaganda pays off with the people and they begin to rebel against the cruel dictatorship.

Eventually Hercules and his band of soldiers venture into the underground where they are sieged by Molochs handmaidens. In some awesome scenes their drapes ignite the underworld existence with explosions and rip rooting destruction. Pleasent delirium.

Against this frenzied, violent backdrop Hercules finally comes face to face with the treacherous Moloch and they begin their combat to the death…..

A surprise to see was the fat faced owl lady again still supporting shite hair-do’s since her Moon Men outing but in a pleasanter role in a slightly (?) superior peplum.

Part of the Adventures of Hercules box set this is a super print despite the full screen; the print used is entitled Conquest of Mycenae and despite the scarcity does not lack quality overall.

Some of the action and 1-2-1 sequences are annoyingly hampered due to the ratio aspect and seem to lose their impact because of it. We will never see this in any other version soon or quite possibly at all so Trimark deserves big praises indeed despite a few minor flaws.

This is a region 1 only release, sadly not available in the U.K on any format. You can buy it from this link.