ERCOLE AL CENTRO DELLA TERRA - Armando Trovajoli - "Hercules In The Haunted World" (1961)
Mario Bava was a very colourful guy, and his career was really starting to roll when he took on "Ercole Al Centro Della Terra," a film of Herculean proportions back in 1961!
Also billed as the more literal "Hercules At The Center Of The Earth," this film has some colourful characters like Reg Park as Hercules (Ercole), a bodybuilder of some noteriety, having been beat out by none other than Steve Reeves in 1950 for the Mr. Universe title, Reg came back and took the title outright in 1951, 1958, and 1965. The man knew how to work!! We're talkin' Mr. Universe here! Damn! They also say that Reg Park was Arnie's soul and inspiration!!
Also known as "Hercules And The Haunted World," this is one amazingly colourful movie!! And why is that? Mario Bava also did his own cinematography, and there is no way to reiterate how important that is to the look of this awesome flick! Look, you can actually have sunrise and sunset all in the same shot and get away with it if you're Mario Bava!
Pageboy haircuts just never seem to go out of style, although that's not my favorite look on Christopher Lee!! Just in case you haven't checked lately, Chris Lee has been in at least 264 films with 3 still set for release probably this year!! What the Hell would we ever have done without him??
Here's one small example of why you don't mess with the cat named King Lico in this film, sure go help yourself, next thing you know, it's pincushion city!!
I love this shot for two reasons, the tongue hanging out of the wall sculpture, and the smirking smile on King Lico's face!!
The amazing and spectacular lighting makes the whole scene look like one giant Maxfield Parrish painting!! The atmospheric music is by Armando Trovajoli, a masestro with over 211 composing credits, who left his mark on many a Hercules and Toto film!!
Not quite the musclehead version of Larry, Moe and Curly, but getting kinda close, maybe more like Manny, Moe, and Jack! Every hero guy needs some buddies!!
AAARRRAAGHH!!! Big scary rock monster, the likes of which haven't been seen since "Missile To The Moon!" Now if only "Missile To The Moon" had been made in colour(nod nod, wink wink), that would be a sight to see!!
Franco Giacobini as Telemachus, gets the job on this outing as the guy in charge of the comedy relief, and is not nearly as obnoxious as this type of sniveling character can sometimes be!
Well, it's getting pretty obvious we are getting closer to the bowels of Hell!!
So finally, here we are in Hell, and what a sight to see, looks like a great place to have the next big Black Sabbath concert!! The psychedelics are built right into the landscape!! Pretty far-out for 1961!!
Herc and his best pal Thesus, played by George Ardisson, need to get across the great abyss, so in my favorite shot, Hercules tosses a boulder with a root tied onto it over to the other side!
Cinch it down good, and now you've got a great opportunity to show off some of Reg's big muscles!!
Oh, Great, wussy boy Thesus loses his grip and drops down into the fiery depths of Hades!!
Oh, but look, there is justice in Hell, as Thesus is saved from a horrible death by a lovely stranger!!
As it turns out, King Lico is in cahoots with The Devil, and this whole excursion was just an elaborate scheme so he could hit on Herc's girlfriend, Princess Deianira, played by sword and sandal diety Leonora Ruffo!
Oh, Yeah, that lovely stranger also happened to be none other than Ida Galli as Persephone, Satan's daughter, and the big man from below is not really happy about her hobnobbin' with Goblins, and especially not with mere mortals, so as you probably already figured out............
Now, it's time for all Hell to really break loose, and Herc has to kick a whole lot of dead ass in the end, and of course, as you would expect, he does a mighty fine job of it!