• Hercules And The Captive Women (The Film Detective) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: The Film Detective
    Released on: April 13th, 2021.
    Director: Vittorio Cottafavi
    Cast: Reg Park, Fay Spain, Ettore Manni, Luciano Marin, Laura Efrikian
    Year: 1961
    Purchase From Amazon

    Hercules And The Captive Women – Movie Review:

    Also known as Hercules Conquers Atlantis (Ercole la conquista di Atlantide in its native Italy), Vittorio Cottafavi 1961 picture Hercules And The Captive Women stars beefy bodybuilder Reg Park as the titular hero, Hercules! When he and some goons wind up in a shipwreck he washes ashore on a remote island where he quickly rushes into action to save a gorgeous young woman named Ismene (Laura Altan) from being sacrificed to a monster.

    However, as Hercules’ luck would have it, there's an evil queen about named Antinea (Fay Spain) who just so happens to be Ismene’s mother and who clearly has other plans for Hercules and his pal Androclo (Ettore Manni). It all has to do with Atlantis and a prophecy about how its destruction is tied to Ismene or something. And honestly, the amount of captive women in this movie can't help but disappoint, because there's really only one, but at least she's cute.

    Released here in its edited U.S. version, Hercules And The Captive Women isn’t deep, but it is fun. It doesn’t reinvent the peblum formula at all but it should please fans of the genre as it gives you pretty much everything you’d want from a sixties Italian Hercules movie: a strongman hero, a beautiful damsel in distress, monsters and magic and a few choice scenes of epic destruction all wrapped up with some pseudo-mythological trappings. It’s goofy, but it works. The production values are on par with other sword and sandal movies made around the same time, meaning that the outdoor locations look great but some of the interior sets put together for the production and monster effects can be a little less than convincing.

    Set to a decent score composed by Gino Marinuzzi Jr. and Armando Trovajoli, the movie is paced reasonably well. As far as the acting goes, Reg Park doesn’t have nearly the charisma that better known Hercules actor Steve Reeves had in the pictures he made. Parks was alright in Mario Bava’s Hercules In The Haunted World but here he’s pretty wooden and the rest of the cast isn’t a whole lot better. Granted, they are dubbed, which never helps, but the delivery just isn’t as intense or as committed as you’d maybe hope it would be.

    That said, the movie, if isn’t necessarily a stand out from the genre, is entertaining enough and worth checking out for those with an affinity for old school Hercules movies.

    Hercules And The Captive Women – Blu-ray Review:

    Hercules And The Captive Women arrives on Blu-ray from The Film Detective framed at 2.35.1 widescreen in an MPEG-2 (??) encoded 1080p high definition transfer taken from a new 4k scan of the original U.S. 35mm negative. Taking up 19GBs of space on the 50GB disc, the colors look a little flat here but are definitely better than the old DVD release. Detail is soft and never reference quality though the elements used for the picture were clearly in nice shape as there’s very little here in the way of actual print damage. There isn’t any noticeable noise reduction or edge enhancement on display here though you can spot some minor compression artifacts in certain scenes (anything involving fog or smoke, for example).

    Audio chores are handled by a 16-bit English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track. Optional subtitles are provided in English and Spanish. Audio quality is fine and overall the track is pretty clean. Dialogue is always easy to understand and follow and the levels are properly balanced even if the dubbed dialogue is occasionally a little on the flat side.

    The main extra on the disc is an audio commentary by film critic and screenwriter Tim Lucas, who proves to be the right person for the job. Optional subtitles are provided in English and Spanish for the commentary as well, which is a nice touch. There are some occasional moments where Lucas goes quite for a bit but overall he paces the track well, covering the history of the film, lots of details on director Vittorio Cottafavi’s career, plenty of insight into the cast featured in the picture, notes on the score and loads of history on the peblum genre in general.

    This release also includes the full Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of the film from 1992, available with an introduction by MST3K writer and co-star Frank Conniff. This one is so ripe with goofy dubbing, nonsensical characters and bad action scenes that it's an easy target for the MST3K crew and this entry does find them in fine form. There's a pretty great reference to the TV series Bonanza in here that fans of TV westerns will snicker at, a few noteworthy musical references and even a Family Ties gag involving a Michael Gross lookalike. Most of the riffing is at the expense of the wooden action and ludicrous plot but the effects get jabbed often as well. Judged on its own merits, this is actually a fun and entertaining adventure movie without the riffing, but let's be honest, it's pretty silly stuff and the Satellite's inhabitants have fun with it.

    Up next is Hercules And The Conquest of Cinema is a documentary from Daniel Griffith at Ballyhoo Motion Pictures that clocks in at just under twenty-minutes. This piece covers the peblum genre from its humble beginnings with older Hollywood productions to the boom years when the Italian film industry was pumping out one sword and sandal film or Hercules film after another at a rapid fire pace! It’s an interesting and well-put together featurette that provides plenty of welcome background information on all that these movies entail.

    Included inside the packaging alongside the disc is The Duel Of The Titans, a twelve-page, full-color booklet insert with an excellent essay on the history of the film and its place in the peblum genre penned by author and historian C. Courtney Joyner – well worth reading.

    Hercules And The Captive Women - The Final Word:

    Hercules And The Captive Women is an entertaining enough peblum picture even if it isn’t the most original entry. The Film Detective presents the film in its proper aspect ratio with an okay transfer and a nice selection of extra features. Fans of the film should be pleased.

    Click on the images below for full sized Hercules And The Captive Women Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Torrente's Avatar
      Torrente -
      Hi Ian,
      Is it a BD-R or is it a pressed disc?
      Thanks for your review!
    1. Jobla's Avatar
      Jobla -
      I'm not Ian, but it is a pressed disc. So are EEGAH and GIANT FROM THE UNKNOWN.
    1. Torrente's Avatar
      Torrente -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jobla View Post
      I'm not Ian, but it is a pressed disc. So are EEGAH and GIANT FROM THE UNKNOWN.
      Thanks a lot for the answer!!
    1. MondoCane's Avatar
      MondoCane -
      Been told the original, remastered uncut Italian version (with English subtitles) is the one to see. No MST3K nonsense, there.