70's Fun with Arnold...,
This review is from: Hercules in New York [Import] (DVD)
Low budget is the key phrase in describing this film debut of the pre-'Pumping Iron" Mighty Ripped One, Arnold. But don't let that keep you from enjoying the film, flaws and all, for it really is a lark and a half. The movie is also known as "Hercules Goes Bananas", and that ought to tell you something.
The music is heavily zithered, a la "The Third Man", but seems oddly appropriate to the film. It actually grows on you, believe it or not. We get an interesting view of the gods hanging out on Mount Olympus, and we meet a dashing Pluto (AKA Death). Tony 'Mr.World' Carroll cameos in a weightlifting contest with Herc, and "Dark Shadows" alum Tracy Loomis plays Herc's love interest, Helen. Soap opera regular Ernest Graves steals all of his scenes as Zeus.
On the DVD, you can choose between the Real Arnold voice track, and the dubbed voice track. I sampled the dubbed version, and then quickly opted for the Real Arnold, with his classic Arnold accent that renders him almost unintelligible ("Eye yam Her-cue-leesse!"). The dubbing is classic in it's own way, however, with the ridiculously deep, white, all-American, manly voice so common to dubbed pictures of Herc, et al. But, with an Arnold movie, we need the sound of Arnold's own vocal undulations as he navigates the rocky waters of the English language.
Arnold Stang actually gets top billing over Arnold Strong (Schwarzenegger). Stang was a memorable, but largely forgotten comedian from the golden age of television. Perhaps most memorable for the voices of "Top Cat" (Hanna-Barbera)and "Herman" (Famous Studios), Stang also appeared in "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World". Here, Stang plays the goofy schlub "Pretzie" (so named because he sells pretzels), a perpetually bewildered person who befriends the bewildered Herc.
Herc has been cast out of Olympus for talking smack to his dad, Zeus. Herc wants to meet new people, and see the mortal world, and when Zeus gets tired of hearing about it, he hurls a lightning bolt (which looks suspiciously like a bent piece of re-bar that was spray painted silver), and POOF! Herc is falling to Earth. Before you know it, he's teaching athletes how to throw the discus and javelins, becoming outraged when he sees a movie poster for a Herc movie, beating up escaped grizzly bears, etc. He also starts making time with the daughter of a college professor (with an interest in mythology, of course), and takes up wrestling.
Half the fun is Arnold's acting. The other half is the valiant attempt of the filmmakers in making lemons out of lemonade on their skimpy budget. Stang is a bit over the top at times, but really helps to keep things moving in a typical kid's movie kind of way.
Probably the biggest flaw with the movie is that the relationship between Herc and Helen is never resolved. In fact, Helen inexplicably vanishes before the movie is all wrapped up. The movie does end delightfully, with the mighty Zeus casting an eye towards his old stomping grounds, but the loose ends are kind of annoying.
Besides the dual voice track, the DVD also offers some TV spots from the movie's 1980 re-release (post-"Conan"), in which Arnold is given heavy play.
The DVD is a must-have for Arnold fans, or fans of low-budget dreck for the 70's. Suitable as a guilty pleasure, or as a treat for the kid in all of us.