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HERCULES SAMSON & ULYSSES (1965)
Now this is a smackdown ancient-myth style. No octagonal steel cage. No rules. No surrender. It's Hercules vs. Samson in a brawl to outdo them all hurling spears heaving chunks of pillars and in the clinches bending thick iron rods around each other. Hercules had set out to find Samson and deliver him to the Philistines in exchange for the imprisoned Ulysses and other Ithacans. Samson of course fights rather than submits. But in the course of the titanic Herc-Sam clash something happens. The two rivals develop a mutual respect and decide to join forces against their common foes: the Philistines. From an enduring filmmaking tradition that unites monsters (Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man) desperados (Return of the Badmen) and superheroes (The Avengers) comes a not-to-be-overlooked film that brings together Hercules Samson and Ulysses. Strap up your sandals' calf-high leather laces and get ready to rumble.
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Triple your value here, ...although Ulysses certainly does not go to the same gym that the actors who play the other two title roles do.
Just about all the expected inclusions you'd expect from this genre, .....with the one noticeable exception.
There's usually some ingenious and dastardly way to execute the innocent employed by the villain.
Nothing like that here.
All the other features are present though.
The obligatory dance sequence of course, ...although it's only done by Delilah,(remember that name!), and it's a pretty lame turn in fact. Even the King/tyrant it's being performed for starts to yawn and gets distracted, ...much to the displeasure of she who is writhing in the veils!
The veils are slowly being removed by a muscular man wielding a bullwhip! (Now there's an original touch I bet Salome didn't think of!)
There's the virtuous little wife waiting at home for Hercules to return. Yes, Herc is married here and even has a blond haired little rug-rat, who in one amazing scene uses his dad's mighty hammies and tight buttocks as a punching bag!
Herc wears VERY short skirts and leaves plenty on show for the kid to play with!
Anyway, ...off Herc goes with Ulysses in a Greek-style boat ostensibly to kill a "sea-monster" that's been destroying shipping.
It's really a sea-lion when you get to see it, ....filmed to look bigger, but just an ordinary sea-lion after all. No monster effects, which was a bit disappointing for me.
Then there's the usual storm, blowing the ship off course and destroying it. Survivors, ...including Herc and Ulysses (of course!), wash up of some foreign shore and then become involved in some Tyrants attempts to find Samson, who has been leading a revolt of the peasants.
Mr Tyrant has a whole village tortured and killed, some nailed to the walls. (Maybe that's the unusual method of execution?)
He also torches the entire village, ....well the three flats that comprise the set that is.
Herc spends some time being mistaken for Samson, not because he looks like him, ....but he has muscles and kills a lion bare-handed. Which of course only Samson is supposed to be able to do.(Notice the killed lion is much thinner, and even a different sex to the one he wrestles?)
There is a scene where Tyrant is trying to decide just who is the real Samson. Now anyone with even the most basic knowledge of Jewish religious practices compared to the Greek could determine this with one look! And the tiny little shorty-skirts are just about brief enough to readily facilitate this quick check too!
After being captured by Tyrant and his dancing Evil Delilah, his men are held hostage until Herc can go out and bring in the real Samson.
Samson by the way has a special method of attack. He favours a double-handed raining down of a shower of javelins, which he can throw immense distances and with great accuracy.
He stocks up on these items behind convenient bushes. You'll laugh out loud at the sound effects the foley-studio uses to accompany each throw!
Speaking of foliage, you will quickly notice that the budget ran to several fake palm trees that are shifted around and replanted in subsequent scenes to provide an "eastern" setting. (We are supposed to be somewhere down the eastern end of the Mediterranean.)
You can see the little hills of sand used to conceal the pots if you look closely!
For some inexplicable reason, Ms. Evil Queen accompanies Herc on his quest, .....and makes a very forward pass one night outside her gold lamé draped caravan.
Herc dutifully resists, ..he's a married man remember. But this of course upsets Her Majesty Delilah and she goes off in a huff.
Next we see her pretending to be Hercs captive, and being dragged along on a rope behind his horse.
This is apparently supposed to lure Samson into "saving " her, ...which of course, it does!
Here is the star turn of the whole movie as Herc and Samson battle it out amongst some ancient ruins. It's hit for hit, and turn about in the wrestling holds, but the best bit is the way they totally destroy the archaeological site. They knock everything down while they fight. HUGE blocks of stone and massive statues collapse on top of our heroes, ...but of course they are not hurt in the slightest when the balsa wood blocks supposedly weighing tons fall on them.
They even catch them as they fall and hurl them back!
Ms. Delilah watches on, wide-eyed in fascination at the sight of SO much rippling muscle.
After a long battle when no one seems to get the upper hand, the two muscle-boys seem to fall in love with each other, and decide to join up to fight the Tyrant!
This of course makes Ms. Queeny persona non grata. She actually tries to ride off in disgust when she realises the two men are more interested in each other than in her.
She gets miles away, but Samson conveniently finds two very long ropes that just happened to be lying on top of one of the few remaining vestiges of those ancient ruins and lassoes her on the run.
Not to be outdone, Herc does the same with the other rope. Delilah is then given to a passing peasant to lead off to "a fate worse than death".
She pleads with the boys, using all her by now useless feminine wiles.
Herc is not in the least affected by her histrionics, ...he wants Samson, ...but poor old Samson still has some remnant of sympathy for women, and he weakens and takes Delilah from the disappointed peasant and puts her up in front on his horse.
The idiot! Didn't he read his bible? She's eventually going to blind him, cut his hair and emasculate him! Silly great lummox!
The story goes on after that and there's the usual treachery by that same Delilah, who promises the boys an escape route, but double crosses both of them and they have to fight off the entire army. (Delilah is still bitter about being ditched by Herc for Samson!)
How better to beat the attacking forces than once again resort to another use of all those papier maché building blocks the budget provided?
This time they are stacked up into a fanciful representation of "The Temple of Dagon".
It's perched atop a cliff, and the army is being egged on from below.
Curiously this egging-on consists of Mr Tyrant having his body guard shoot his own blokes in the back with arrows. Killing your own soldiers would seem to stack the odds the wrong way, but this is "EPIC"!
Anyway, clever little Ulysses, who makes up in brain for what he lacks in brawn, shows the two muscle-bound heroes that the temple rests on just two beams for its foundations.
Samson and Herc proceed to lift the immense logs, and dump the whole structure down on the attacking soldiers, ...killing them all.
Then they escape by the fortuitous arrival of a rescue boat, but not before Samson manages to send another of his timely javelins right through the heart of Mr. Tyrant.
Delilah remains completely unscathed in her fetching war armour, ...but she's got that later date with those scissors coming up, hasn't she!
The rescue boat has arrived from home,(Ithica) and it's even carrying Herc's little wifey, and they all sail off. Then big dumb-dumb Samson jumps overboard and swims ashore! What an idiot!
We are left to imagine his forthcoming demise at the hands of the awaiting ultimately triumphant hussy Delilah....
Costumes are quite good really, ...apart from the strange re-use of some army-disposal store Nazi helmets for the guards/soldiers.
They have had small owl heads placed on the front but Nazi helmets are so instantly recognisable that you won't miss them.
There are also Tudor roses applied to the front of each breastplate in another anachronistic touch!
The print/transfer is glorious. Wide-screen too! The sound not quite so hot, but it is a delight to be able to watch a movie in this campy genre in such sharpness. Usually they are very fuzzy, ...some so much as to be barely watchable.
One of the better "ancient world" muscle-mania movies!
The print by MGM is presented in an 1:85 anamorphic format, though I suspect the original was shot in a 2:35 aspect ratio, but you get a picture that will fill out your entire flat screen panel. It is sharp with good color and you won't miss anything on the sides (of the screen).