Renegade gods have stolen the seven thunderbolts of Zeus, unleashing the forces of chaos on the universe. Hercules is tasked with recovering these objects of power, and his quest takes him to distant lands where he faces many dangers…
Sequel to the epic cheesefest that was ‘Hercules’ (1983) with ‘Incredible Hulk’ Lou Ferrigno returning in the title role and Luigi Cozzi back in the writer-directors chair. It’s another production of Cannon Films and the partnership of cousins Golan and Globus, but there are even closer links to the first film than all that.
Like the previous story, this one starts with some gaudy 1980s SFX purporting to show us the creation of the universe. However, rather than it being the result of some old piece of pottery exploding, this time the stars, planets and moons come from the goddess Imperia and her ‘seed of fire and light.’ Nice to hear a different take on the big bang theory, I suppose. The opening credits follow, accompanied by clips of Ferrigno’s labours from the first film. Eight minutes in, we actually get some new footage.
Evil priests are sacrificing the maidens of Fajesta to the god Anteus. He looks kind of like the monster from the Id taking a holiday from the ‘Forbidden Planet’ (1956) and doesn’t seem like good husband material. Concerned sisters Urania (Milly Carlucci) and Glaucia (Sonia Viviani) talk it over with some brilliant time-wasting exposition, courtesy of our writer-director. Carlucci decides they need some guidance from ‘the little people’ who ‘speak in the words of Zeus’. They turn out to be poorly-animated angels (played by Christina Basili) who float about in a fire. More exposition follows, and Carlucci collects Viviani and heads for ‘The Forbidden Forest’ where they will meet the Champion of Zeus.
And, finally, with just over 17 minutes of the film gone, here’s Ferrigno in some new footage! He rides through a forest before being attacked by a stuntman in some kind of dog costume! Sadly, men in monster suits have replaced the stop-motion effects from the first film, and it’s no more evident than in this feeble fight scene.
Next, we meet the cabal of renegade gods, led by the evil Hera (Maria Rosario Omaggio). Her partners in crime are the lovely Flora (Laura Lenzi), Aphrodite (Margie Newton) and Poseidon (Ferdinando Poggi). Together they revive the villainous King Minos (William Berger) who you may remember as the best part of the previous film. Of course, he renews his partnership with the questionably clad Dedalos (Eva Robins), and together they unite to stop Ferrigno.
From then on, it’s the usual episodic story of quest after quest as Ferrigno seeks out the thunderbolts, but let’s stop here for some production information. You could be forgiven for thinking that this new adventure looks suspiciously like outtakes of Ferrigno, Berger and Robins from the first film cobbled together with footage of new actors standing around and providing exposition to link it all together. Sure, Claudio Cassinelli is back as Zeus, and he has a new Athena (played by Carlotta Green – actually, Lou Ferrigno’s real-life wife), but it all looks distinctly second-hand. But the truth turns out to be a little more complicated than that.
The original ‘Hercules’ (1983) was shot back-to-back with ‘The Seven Magnificent Gladiators/I Sette Magnifici Gladiatori’ (1983) which also starred Ferrigno and was directed by Bruno Mattei. The story goes that, unhappy with that film, Golan and Globus hired Cozzi to shot some additional scenes. So impressed with the results were the cost-conscious cousins that they told Cozzi to carry on shooting, intending to use the new material to create a ‘Hercules’ sequel without telling Ferrigno what was going on! I don’t know why they kept it a secret from him, but I think it’s a safe bet that money might have been involved.
There are some guilty pleasures to be had in all this, of course. Ferrigno is attacked by slime people who seem to have worked harder on their gymnastics than their fighting ability. There’s a lousy recreation of Ray Harryhausen’s medusa sequence from ‘Clash of the Titans’ (1981). The monster from the Id is all-powerful but can’t stand up to a straight right delivered into the camera. Wacky sound effects blip and zap, and Berger and Robin’s double act is as entertaining as ever.
And then there’s that ending… Ferrigno and Berger fight, only for some reason they become animated, and I mean in the cartoon sense of the word. Berger becomes a T Rex, and Ferrigno eventually transforms into King Kong! It’s beyond cheap, beyond awful, and as hilarious as hell.
How composer Pino Donnagio must have laughed when he found out that his superb musical score from the first film was used again here. I wonder if he got paid.
By all reasonable notions of film criticism, this is truly an appalling picture. But it is a lot of fun.