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Oh hell.

I just went through four Hercules films a few months ago, and honestly, that pretty much did it for me in terms of Hercules films.   I don’t want to see any more, except the Lou Ferrigno ones, and that’s because those have to be seen to be believed.

Still, I told myself I was going to do everything in the Treeline box.   Besides, it can’t be worse than Atomic Brain or Phantom from Space.  

Can it?  Well, let’s find out.  Stiff upper lip and all that, one two three.

Well, according to the screen, this is actually called “The Sons of Hercules,” so it may not have him in it.  It still will probably make me tired. 

And it starts out with a song, a kind of beach music type thing.  “The soooooons…of Hercules!”  and it talks about “these men of steel” doing various things while we see clips of them doing various things.  These remind me of the opening to the old “Thunderbirds” TV show where we’d see clips of what was to come in the episode during the opening credits.  We see sons fight a pretty cool looking dragon, get yanked by a pair of chariots, throw things, and whip some…really odd looking monster, like a walking tree with a single glowing eye.  And more stuff happens.

And we get another title:  “Land of Darkness, Part I” which fills me with dread.  How long is this going to take?

Okay, I’m going to stop that.  You’re here for a review, not to listen to me groan and complain about every little thing that’s gone wrong in my life.  So I will straighten out and fly right and keep my eye on the ball til the cows come home.  So swears the reviewer!

We open with some guy’s sweaty back.  He’s straining at something we can’t see.  “Through the centuries, in olden times,” says a narrator, “there lived—the sons of Hercules!”  We see that the guy is doing some gardening.  “Heroes supreme!  They roamed the earth,” he goes on, as the guy starts roaming the earth, “righting wrongs.”  We still haven’t seen this guy’s face, but he has blue pants on.  “Helping the weak and oppressed, and seeking…adventure!”  They guy walks out of shot.  “They were the mightiest of mortal men.  One of them was…” and we vaguely see the guy through some brush.  “…Argolees!  It is of his deeds we tell now.”  And the guy walks toward the camera.  “And of his struggle in the Land of Darkness.”

And Argolees walks along, while elsewhere there are a couple of sleeping women.  One of them gets up and sneaks away, and runs into the forest. 

The other lady, who is older, wakes up, and notes the absence of the other.  Intuitively, she dashes off in the same direction, calling out “Gilka!”

And we cut back to Argolees, walking along, and he walks along some more, and finds a stream, and drinks from it, and Gilka finds the same stream (further away from Argolees) and thinks a bit of skinny-dipping is in order.  We artfully cut to the surface of the water so we can’t see anything, but before we get much of a chance, a lion roars.   Both Gilka and Argolees look up, alarmed at this. 

And we see the lion.  Yup, that’s what I would call a lion.  Of course, it’s a male lion, which I didn’t did much hunting.  Don’t the lionesses do that?

Anyway, Argolese is ready for action (from the lion) and the lion comes up to him and they wrassle a bit.  They actually use a real lion throughout, and Argolees grabs it and stuff and otherwise does things to make the lion look pretty angry at times, so this is a well-trained lion.  I wonder if Clyde Beatty is around!    Gilka, in the meantime, holds her robes over her chestal area and hides her face in her hands.  The other lady shows up to comfort her.

Argolees and the lion wrassle some more.   The lion seems to think the point has been proven, and he starts to go away, but Argolees throws a big (Styrofoam) rock at the lion, and it hits him!  The lion is pretty mad at this, and it looks like more fighting is in the offing.  And it’s more wrassling. 

Finally, the lion is (I guess) killed, though the fact that it licks its lips shatters the illusion a bit.   Argolees checks his neck (it is still there) and acts pretty winded about the whole thing.   Gilka and the other lady are looking at him.  Finally, he collapses, the music turns tender, Gilka runs over to him and strokes his face, and we fade to a somewhat mediaeval looking village, where robed types stroll about and someone is herding sheep. 

Inside some house, an obvious Second Banana runs to the now spiffily-dressed Argolees and tells him “The king is coming!”   Argolees smoothes down his black scarf.  He has also changed his blue shorts to some yellowish ones.   The king comes in and is told that this guy is the chap who saved his daughter (Gilka) from the lion.  (The other lady is identified as a nurse.  Both ladies are still wearing their same clothes.) 

They all marvel how Argolees killed the lion with his bare hands, and that must mean he’s pretty strong. 

”I was without weapons, and your young daughter was in danger,” Argolees says.  “I did what I could.” 

The king grabs a loaf of bread, tears it in half and gives half to Hercu—uh, Argolees.  Argolees, in turn, gives half of his half to Gilka and starts snacking.

The king tells Argolees that in his village, there’s this ancient tradition.  “The man who saves the life of one of our maidens, has the right to marry her.”

Argolees looks really pleased.  “Why, that’s wonderful!” he says, looking at Gilka.

”With the exception of the daughter of the king!” says the king sounding rather peeved.  “As in this case,” he adds.  Seeing how he’s put everyone into a bummer mood, he changes the subject.  “I wonder if you’ve heard about the dragon of the mountains, of the way he ravages the countryside,” he says. 

”Yes, I’ve heard something of it,” Argolees says, almost prissily. 

King says it sure would be great if Argolees could go out and kill this dragon, bringing back a tooth as proof he’s kaput, kapeesh?   King then says he could marry Gilka, who he calls “Tenka” but he puts his arm around the gal we all know and love as Gilka so I’m not going back to change it and you can’t make me. 

Argolees agrees to seize the dragon wheeze and make his heart freeze for all his teasing ~SLAP~ ouch, that really hurt!   Anyway, everyone’s happy as Argolees goes off to fight the dragon. 

So, he goes back to trudging through the grassy plains.  And he finds a mine entrance.  (It can’t be a cave, it is perfectly rectangular.  Maybe someone made the dragon a nice cave so it would behave in a nicer way, and this plan didn’t work.) 

And inside is a pool of water.  Argolees looks around awhile, I guess this “water” thing has him stymied.  But he finds another path, and walks along that, then the lights suddenly go on and he nearly trips and falls.  But he recovers nicely and keeps going.  And he comes to a temple-type building, with lit torches and stuff.  And someone screams out his name.

Well, as you can picture he looks pretty startled by this.  He turns toward the shouting and some witch-woman (I think the king mentioned her as knowing the dragon’s locale) says that while he’s “come to destroy the dragon” it will “not be easy” for him.  She notes that a bunch of guys have made the attempt and they all died “horribly.”

Argolees says he’ll kill the dragon and bring the “claw” as proof.  Uh, you’re supposed to bring a TOOTH, Hercu—uh, Argolees, and bringing a claw is just the sort of thing the king’s lawyers would seize on. 

The witch-woman shouts “NO!” at Argolees and says, well, pretty much what I said, tooth not claw.  Only she wants the smallest tooth, “the one full of poison.”  Oh great.  As opposed to one of the medium ones full of candy.  If it’s not one thing….

She also notes that Argolees can only kill the dragon if she (witch woman) is on his side, and she makes a fire whoosh totally huge to prove her point.  Works for me.  She gives Argolees a magic lance to kill dragons with, and he admires the long, stiff pole.  He asks her where to find the dragon. 

She mumbo-jumbos about how it’s a day away, near a mountain and the ocean.  She flowers it up totally hippy-style but that’s the gist of it.   She says there’s a tree with an amulet there, and if you stand there, the dragon comes. 

Hey, king?  Wouldn’t it be easier to just tell people, “Don’t go travel to the amulet and stand around it, and if you do, don’t come running back here complaining about being eaten and/or burnt!”?   That would be one of my edicts if I were king.

Anyway, Argolees says he’s off to kill the dragon and witch-woman goes on and on about how he has to bring the tooth back, only the tooth, just the tooth, and he says OKAY I have GOT that, I have to LEAVE now.  But he says if the Gods help him, he can’t bring the tooth back to her because it’s already been promised.   Well, witch-woman isn’t happy about that, I can tell you!   She tells him that the poison in the tooth will work “only on one occasion” and she repeats that.  She laughs and laughs and seems to enjoy being evil, and since she was tricked about dragon’s teeth maybe that’s her only pleasure now.  

Me, I start to think that that “one occasion” will be tragic for someone.  Probably someone who dies because of it.  Anyway, Argolees leaves the cave and goes back into the sunlight, now clutching a dagger.   “Only on ONE occasion!” the witch-woman yells from her cave and I really do think we’ve all got it, thanks.  One time, after that, no more poison.  Noted. 

So, Argolees slogs across the plains, then through a forest.  He pauses, but then moves on. 

And somewhere, some guys in armor come out of the shadows, and confer together.  The music tells us this is bad news, though I can’t help wondering who the hell these people are.  Are they with the dragon, or some random guys Hercu—um, Argolees has to defeat later? 

I suppose we’ll find out.  All these guys ride up on horses and the leader appeals to the god of war, saying said god has always protected them, so they’re going to sacrifice a bunch of people from (a quick shot) the king’s village!   Oh no!  And not a single Son of Hercules around when you need one, isn’t that just typical.  They kill some random no-one we’ve not heard of before, and then go to attack the village. 

They fire flaming arrows into the village walls, but those seem to have vanished when they actually ride in to make their attack.  Though I must note that they use flaming arrows to shoot some villages, and toss torches here and there.  So flame is obviously one of their themes.

King and Gilka look worried at this carnage being wrought.  Boy, lions, dragons and now flame-barbarians—these people can’t catch a break, can they! 

The leader of the ruffians (I’m going to call him Mr. Bad) rides up to the king and says all the king’s people are slaves now, and King says, in essence, “You are a rotter,” so Mr. Bad has him arrested then laughs and laughs.  He can laugh pretty evilly because he has a mustache like most evil people do, including Martians.

And there’s more carnage and stuff, Mr. Bad orders everything burned and sacked and notes that no one should be allowed to escape this burning and sacking.  And he and his bad men ride around and stuff.   The Second Banana from earlier decides to hide in a basket.   But this doesn’t work, as Mr. Bad himself finds him and orders him removed from the basket. 

But then, rather than behead him or whatever, they dump him in a barrel of water and seem to feel that’s all the evil to be done unto Second Banana.   But when he tries to get out, they dump him back in the barrel.   Uh, well, hm.  Gosh, what cruelty etc, but really, that’s quite a stroke of luck, there, Second Banana.  Don’t waste it!

And Mr. Bad and the Badites ride around some more while flames are high in the village.  And the Badites ride around, showing their swords and stuff, and they ride, and Second Banana submerges in the barrel whenever anyone gets close, and so gets pretty wet.   I suppose it is intended as humor.  Well, the road to Hell and all that…

Finally, I guess everything worth burning is burned and everyone worth enslaving is enslaved, so we see Second Banana breathing with relief.  Yes, we’re all glad he survived and stuff.  Well, some are glad.  Others are more impatient.

And we cut to Argolees stalking the dragon.  He seems to have found the tree with the amulet, or at least a tree with vague crap hanging from it.  So he walks up this little hillock, but the hillock doesn’t want to be walked on!  Yes, it was the dragon, sleeping under its favorite amulet, and Argolees is shaken off the (non) hillock. 

And the dragon unfurls so that we can all savor his awesomeness.  Well, consider it savored; that was quick.  He roars and roars and swishes his tail.  He sometimes seems to be a man in a suit, other times a large construct operated by people not paid a lot of money to do so. 

Well, sorry, that was speculation.  He rawrs and rawrs and that seems to be the extent of his offensive powers.   He’s certainly no Trogdor.  Argolees contemplates throwing his spear, and after less than a minute, he does, and impales the dragon, and it starts smoking (not cigarettes or pipes but on its own).   Argolees looks pretty excited, like this was pretty friggin easy (I was thinking the same thing, only less excited) but then we get an abrupt cut to black.

And we open on some town somewhere, with folks running a lot.  Ah, these are the folks from King’s village, being herded to some central locale probably to be laughed at evilly by Mr. Bad.   There’s Gilka!   And I think that’s King, too, being shuffled along. 

And to a fanfare, Mr. Bad shows up, along with some ladies and some color guards or something.  And he goes to a throne and sits in it, politely waiting until the music has finished fanfaring.

”Gracious Queen, we bring before you the finest of the conquered!” some guy says, and either Mr. Bad swings a lot (if you catch my meaning), or I missed something about an Evil Queen.

Damn it, do these Hercules things always have to have an Evil Queen? 

”Bring them here,” says Some Guy, clarifying, “before the Queen!”

Queen, if I am seeing this print okay, seems to look a lot like Nurse from earlier.  Mr. Bad leans in to tell the Queen (who has red hair) that she’s the one who will decide the fate of the prisoners.  You know, I bet she already knew that.

Queen looks over the assembled prisoners and declares that Gilka is to be her slave, and the others can be dealt with however, “as long as the people are pleased.”  Guess that depends on who’s to be pleased, I think.  Most of the captured folks, for example, would be pleased if they were told they hadn’t done anything so they could go free, and then live on an island somewhere. 

Gilka is brought before the Queen, made to kneel, then put into the “handmaiden’s quarters.” 

Queen glances briefly at someone in her entourage, but heck, enough of that palace intrigue stuff!   We cut to Hercu—damn it, Argolees, running over the bleak plain to triumphant music.   So I guess he killed the dragon and got the right tooth.  Glad that took only a moment or two.  I might have become excited!  Well, doubtful but could be.

But then he looks and sees that the village looks rather burnt.  He looks peeved at this and runs the rest of the way.   Arriving among the still-flaming ruins, he stands and looks, waiting for his cue.

Fortunately, Second Banana calls out to him, specifically, and Argolees goes to help the man stand up out of his no-doubt soiled robes.    Argolees asks what happened, and Second Banana says that the Badites enslaved everyone, and they’re really bad, and they happen to think that if they eat brave people’s hearts, they’ll become brave too.  Which leads me to say, double yuck-o! 

Argolees hauls Second Banana to his feet and says that they’ll free the King people from the Badites.

”The two of us?” Second Banana asks in comedy panic, and when told this is the case, asks “Why me?” but we don’t get to hear his hilarious answer because we cut to some bleak plain.  With Argolees and Second Banana walking along.   And they continue to walk, until they come to a forest.  Argolees presses Second Banana about more details concerning the Badites, and he’s told that they live underground and drink blood.  And stuff.  And they continue to walk, and behind them is a figure!   Wow, is it a crew person or an evil person!  

Turns out it’s a guy in a bear suit.  Only Second Banana sees him, so Argolees puts this down to scaredy-cat-ness.   I think it is all supposed to be funny.  Like a brick!

We see the bear shuffle across the plain to comical, uh, harmonica music?   And as Hercules…DAMN IT I MEAN Argolees and Second Banana walk along (to the same music), Second Banana stops to rub tree sap on his face.

No, really, that’s what he did, I didn’t make any of that up.  Perhaps it’s to show he’s a sap?  Speaking for myself, I already got that part.  Behind in the distance, the guy in the bear suit walks along.   And he does a pretty good job of walking the way a bear does, except bears don’t walk on their back legs for long distances (I don’t think), unless Clyde Beatty tells them to.   The bear sniffs and apparently likes the tree where the sap was. 

And Argolees and Second Banana are now walking through a forest.  Good, good.   Second Banana points off-screen and says, “There’s the gorge of molten lava.  They say those horrible [Badites] live on the other side!”  And it sure is a gorge with red lights and smoke around it.   “What’ll we do, huh?  Huh?”  Second Banana asks, but Argolees walks forward determinedly and they come to the edge of a ravine or a cliff or something.  They look into the stock-footage and are worried.  Second Banana wants to turn back, but he is told to “be quiet!”

And we see some riders in the distance.  Second Banana is scared of them, and Argolees grabs him and they hide while the riders ride past.   We see the hooves on the ground.  Uh huh, good.  Glad we weren’t left with the impression these were floating horses with no feet.  

Argolees and Second Banana hide by hurling themselves into a crevasse while someone says “Hoo!” and there is a stone bridge that eases into place, so the riders can cross.  Which they do.  Then the bridge goes back up, through the magic of reverse footage, and we get to watch the whole thing!  Yay!   No, not yay, the other one.  Boo!

Argolees says, “They are more clever and more powerful than I had imagined.”  Yeah, they have a drawbridge, watch out!

”It’s quite impossible to get the better of people who are hiding in the bowels of a mountain,” Second Banana avers.  So, we’re done watching, since these bad guys can’t be defeated?

”It is equally impossible to leave Gilka and the others in the hands of those savages!”

”Is it?” Second Banana asks, clearly hoping the answer is “Oh, wait, I guess we can leave them.  Let’s go!”  But that isn’t the answer he gets. 

Argolees leaves the frame, so he can uproot a giant tree to act as a bridge.  We already know he’s good at landscaping (from the beginning of the film) so this should be right up his alley.   Second Banana quavers and quakes as the deed is accomplished (in real time).   But Argolees isn’t even winded.  He does send Second Banana across first, which (comically) takes a long time. 

And then the bear shows up!   Second Banana gets across okay, but he sees the bear and shouts, “Look out!” and the guy in the bear suit turns into a real guy in a bear suit, and he and Argolees have a bit of a wrasslin’ match, but it seems to end with Argolees and the bear becoming friends.    Everyone’s smiling, anyway.   And the bear, unharmed, goes back to the forest.   Well, that sure added a lot in a relevant way, didn’t it?  I’m hoping the answer is “yes” but I am braced for the inevitable.

And once Argolees is across, he throws the tree into the lava so as to leave no trace of their entry.  “What now?” asks Second Banana.   I guess he was asking about something else, because Argolees says they have to remove any traces of their being around.  Second Banana asks about getting back, and Argolees waves that concern off with a remark about using “the secret passage.”   I guess he means the drawbridge.  Hope he knows how to yell "Hoo!"

So they go off into the mountain.  They occasionally look at the landscape there.  And there is some bird or animal that makes a noise like a car alarm.  But…no matter, they continue to walk.   And they walk some more.  And even a bit more after that.

Second Banana jumps up to grab at a bit of fruit (I’m assuming) but a net falls and ensnares him.  Luckily, the net was just some random trap and no one was watching it or anything, so Argolees just takes it off and advises Second Banana to “get up!”   There’s more comedy about this net and the bait and stuff, but it isn’t really comedy so never mind.  And now it’s over and we’re back to walking along. 

They find some water leaking out of a rock wall, and Second Banana has to drink, and a hail of spears poings into the wall.  Argolees notes how this is another trap.   So they walk along some more, and a hail of arrows flies after them, and Second Banana didn’t even do anything!   But Argolees spots the trap, and yanks on a vine, and another hail of arrows flies out…right toward Second Banana!   He drops and rolls through a pretty convenient cave mouth though, which saves him from arrows but also hides him from Argolees.   Some.  Until Argolees goes through the cave opening that was apparently RIGHT THERE the WHOLE TIME.  Argolees comes across Second Banana and kicks his buttocks (a bit) with his shoe.  Second Banana starts at this. 

So, now they’re in a cave, right next to a big temple with a snake god face, and the music turns weird, and they walk along somewhat.  Including walking down some stairs.  And some of the Badites are coming along, marching, but they two good guys hide under the stairs, and they double back to go to the opening that the Badites came out of.   And they come to a place which has lava, and wouldn’t you just know it, but some Badites come marching along!   Isn’t that always the way!   Luckily (for Argolees, but not for them) there are only two of them, and Hercu—uh, Argolees hurls them into the lava.   I should imagine this makes them fairly dead.  

So Argolees and Second Banana continue through the tunnels and they come across some moaning noises.   And they find some guy buried in mud, and they yank him out of the mud.   He tells them he’s someone’s brother and he was “left to die in this filthy hole.”  Wow, harsh.   He goes on to note that he knows he’d going to die, but his father’s been chained in the great cavern.  

Well, if this wasn’t enough info for us to absorb, some Badites show up and start making trouble!   Luckily, Argolees is pretty strong and he makes short work of them.  Yeah, sure, the music kind of makes it seem like it might be exciting, but come on.   These guys are such nothings, they won’t even get close to killing Second Banana, let alone Argolees. 

Sure enough, Argolees tosses them all into the mud, where they appear nonplussed.   And the first Mud Guy tells Argolees and Second Banana that someone (“Talika”?  How many names does Gilka have?) is a slave to the queen.   But I think we already knew that.  So the Mud Guy dies having no more lines. 

Argolees swears that the Badites are going to pay “for this foul and cruel murder” and the music gets all fan-farey.   He strides off with determination, and we cut to the Queen in her chamber, and her warriors are largely there as well.

They’re commenting on the guards who were tossed into the mud, and they’re not happy about that.   The various toadies aver that no one has ever defeated the guards, and the Queen notes that “an enemy who is invisible is the worst enemy there is,” so those of you with a lot of enemies, write that down.

She goes on to note that Mr. Bad is sure strong and stuff, so his honor has been impugned, but the whole city ought to be searched for invisible super-people before impugned honor gets the upper hand.   Gilka looks concerned at this, and behind her, a slave chick bites her lip also in concern. 

Mr. Bad says, “I shall attend to it myself.”

And we cut to a bunch of slave laborers, all laboring slave-fully, while sundry overseers oversee this slave-labor.   Argolees looks out upon this unfair vista.   Then he and Second Banana run down a corridor, but they’re spotted by a Badite.  “Hey you two!  Stay where you are!”  He then blows a fanfare on his hornpipe.  And some other Badites decide to rush up to do some whopping.   And they run through lots of corridors, while the Pipe Guy fanfares rather a lot of variants on fanfares.  Argolees runs into some guards, but he punches them and runs on, then finds some more, but he punches them too, including using one of their own number as a club. 

And he runs on from this scenario, and beats up some more Badites, then runs on, and hides from some more Badites and doubles-back on them, but someone says “Fire!” and the room to which Argolees has run is suddenly filled with flame.  And some more Badites show up and appear to walk through this flame to confront him.  And they close in on him.

And we cut to Second Banana, well-hid, watching some slave chicks carry food to the privileged.   And he grabs a chicken from the plate of the last slave chick (unseen) and chows down, glad to have something to stuff into his face.   And we get to watch him eat until a comedy music cue tells us we’re done with him.

Cut to Argolees, all chained up, being brought before the Queen.   Some chick related to Mr. Bad says that this must be the strongest guy ever, and Mr. Bad captured him, so Mr. Bad must be totally great.  Mr. Bad, being politically savvy, says that all honor is due to the Queen for being so inspiring to everyone, so she actually captured the strong man.   Queen looks right pleased at this, and rises to question Argolees.  I hope she asks him why he had to bring along his Comedy Sidekick along, because so far Second Banana hasn’t contributed anything at all (other than wasting everyone’s time).

She walks down a long, long gangplank to Argolees, who suddenly looks humbled when the Queen (eventually) gets to him.   Queen notes this is correct on his part, as she has defeated him. 

”I’m looking at you,” Argolees says, “and all I can see is the cruelty of your people!”  Oh, good thing to say while you’re in chains.  “But cruelty and violence only bring submission, never loyalty, and your reign will soon end!”

Well, as you might imagine this doesn’t go down well with Queen.  She tells him that tomorrow, he’ll be torn apart by elephants and her warriors will eat his flesh to acquire his courage and strength.  As I said before: Double-yuck-o!  I wonder if one of them will get the buttocks?

And the interview is over.  “Take him away!” Queen says, and some soldiers do just that.

Cut to some room where Gilka is crying her eyes out.  Nurse says, “My poor little Gilka.  You are weeping over your misfortunes.”  Gee, you think?   “While I for a long time have not had the release of tears.”  Whatever that means. 

”Do you dare to speak of your misfortunes, Melissa?” Gilka asks, obviously having picked up a few traits from being Queen’s slave.  “You, the only daughter of a tyrant, protected and nourished by all the power his cruelty arouses.”  Okay, so this isn’t Nurse, and now that she gets a proper close-up, I can see that.

”The cruelty of the tyrant as you call him stems from our Queen Ella,” she says, distaining commas.  “She is the one who bewitched my poor father forcing him to put her on the throne!”  She turns to Gilka.  “But tell me something.  How are you concerned with the man who was condemned to death today?”

Well, Gilka leaps up at this.  “You mustn’t ask that, how did you guess?” she says in alarm.  The two stare at each other.  Gilka talks about how she’s in love with Argolees.  Melissa says she’ll see if she can help.

Cut to Second Banana, looking down at some guards gambling in front of a cell door.  They don’t seem to be using money, just throwing the dice and reading the number.  It’s rather desultory.  Maybe they’re gambling over the buttocks. 

We pan across the cell and see that King is one of the prisoners.  Back at Second Banana, he tries to get the King’s attention by loudly whispering, “Detail, detail!”   How he expects the guards not to hear is a mystery for you philosophers. 

Well, as it turns out, one of the guards sees Second Banana and gives chase, to wacky xylophone music.  Second Banana hides, and when the guard approaches, he (Second Banana) puts his foot in some loop of rope, which releases a board which knocks out the guard.  The comedy music continues as Second Banana checks to see how thoroughly the guard is conked.  Turns out, pretty thorough. 

We then cut to Second Banana, wearing the guard’s uniform and again checking the guard—who looks rather dead, to be honest.  He’s open-eyed and not moving and, thus, doesn’t react to Second Banana’s waving hand. 

Well, he walks off, right into a crowd of guards who don’t seem at all fooled by his uniform, as they unsheathe their swords and chase him.   He does do a kind of amusing hop before he runs away.  He runs around a rock, and everyone follows after, and the last guard to follow is…Second Banana!   He does a kind of comedy take at finding himself thus situated, and turns and ducks, uh, under the rock, somehow.   The guards all return, apparently running in circles around this big rock.   I guess they used up all their evil when they attacked the village and are running on goof fumes now.

”We’re running in circles and getting dizzy!” one of them notes.  They accuse one another of leading the chase, and the chief notes that Mr. Bad will not be happy with this behavior.  So they all go off elsewhere, Second Banana comes from out of the rock (looking well pleased with himself) and for some reason, we see a quick shot of the lava. 

Then we cut to some slave chick carrying one of those pillows that usually has a crown or a sword on it.  In this case, it has some kind of smallish scepter, which is presented to the Queen who takes it, while a brassy fanfare lets us know we’re about to see Argolees whop some major Badite buttocks.  Well, come on, they’re not going to kill him…unless the rest of the movie is some of the other “sons” (plural) of Hercules who will take vengeance. 

Queen waves the scepter, and to the rolling tones of some tympani, two elephants are slowly brought out, and the crows goes wild.  They really enjoy elephants.  Good for them.  Say, I wonder if some donkeys will come out too, and we can have a charged political debate!  

Oh, it turns out there are more than two elephants, looks like four in fact, and they raise a forefoot each.   They roar like some guy imitating a ghost through an Alpine horn.  A quick shot of the crowd shows us Second Banana posing with the rest of the guards.   Glad that got worked out.

And more shots of elephants.  Even though they’re live (circus) elephants, they look oddly like stop-motion.  And Argolees is brought out in chains, and chained to the elephants. 

And the Queen addresses the masses, saying (again) that the warriors will eat this guy, and the one who can tear out his heart will become general.   Damn, harsh way to get promoted but I suppose those were different times.   And the Queen slowly sits down, and there’s silence for a while, and then the elephants start pulling Argolees in different directions.  And these elephants are really well trained, I must say.  

But Argolees starts puling them backwards, because he’s so powerful and all.  And the elephants’ roaring reminds me of the Id Beast from Forbidden Planet.  Wow, that was a cool movie, I should see that again.

Oh…this movie?   Well, the struggle goes on a while.  A shot of Mr. Bad shows him looking remarkably like Ming the Merciless.  And we get some shots of Gilka, all dolled up and worried, and Melissa looking impassive (but interested in this powerful stud, I bet) and Argolees’ feet, struggling in the sand.    Also, elephants, manliness, Second Banana (who doesn’t act, because I bet he knows this is easy for Hercu—damn it, Argolees), and more of our principals. 

There’s a shot of Mr. Bad signaling to one of the Badites, who comes over and nods, and then Mr. Bad leaves and no one seems to notice this (except the cameraman and me).  I’m sure he has nefariousness planned, but we still have to watch this struggle go on.  I could take a break with some nefariousness myself, but I didn’t direct this.  How do you know?  Second Banana is still alive, that’s how you know.  Now shut up and let me write!

The elephants are being poked with pokers because they’re not killing Argolees fast enough, and over the Queen’s viewing box, there are shields that look like the symbols for Reverse, Play and Forward.   I just happened to notice that because the rest of the movie has become kind of…repetitive would be the nice way to put it.  I’ve spent the last few minutes repairing a CD, that’s how…uh, less interesting the screen has become. 

”I’m finished,” Argolees says.  “God of the sun, I beg you, make these chains break.”  And just like that, they do!   Wow, who knew it was that easy!  Not me, that’s for sure. 

And freed of their own chains, the elephants go nuts a bit, and one of them heads straight for the Queen!   But guess who rushes forward and grabs the elephant by the foot, and stops the elephant from stomping on the Queen!   Well, if you guessed Second Banana, you are completely…wrong!   It was Argolees himself, I’ll have you know.  

Now, of course, this shows he is a stand-up moral kind of guy, who hates senseless violence, but the seasoned Hercules watcher (sigh, like me) knows that this means the evil Queen will fall in love with him, and offer him riches, and maybe even prepare a special mind-control drink, and otherwise STRETCH THE MOVIE OUT like Argolees was about to be stretched out between elephants.  As she watches the elephant non-action, Queen has this great expression like she’s just found out that there is a Santa Claus after all. 

Anyway, the elephant thus, uh, discouraged, Argolees rushes to see if Queen is okay, which she is.  An off-screen loser holds a blade at Argolees’ back, but Queen orders this guy away, and (as Second Banana helps Gilka out of her faint, which we missed), Queen says that, together, she and Argolees “cannot fail to rule the entire world.  Let Argolees be granted the highest honors!”  She then leaves, like she’s detected a foul odor, and Argolees grins, and Second Banana and Gilka grin as well, but come on, this will all end in tears, yes?   You should see the faces on Second Banana and Gilka, though.  Second Banana’s face is “Wow, this is pretty good, looks like there may be hope!” and Gilka is “Wow, that man of mine!”  

And…what the hell?   We fade to black, they fade in as we see Argolees bend some iron bars, and hear a narrator say, “To the conclusion of the adventure in the Land of Darkness.  You will see Argolees, the son of Hercules, as he brings his mighty strength to bear in breaking free from bondage.”

Well, glad you spoiled that all for us, Narrator, you’re worse than I am!     And we see some supporting beams being melted in intense heat and finally collapsing.  “Rebellion bursts upon the city inside the mountain,” the Narrator goes on, as we watch…rebellion busting.   Oh, glad that was spelled out for us.  “While Gilka’s life—“ We see her chained up somewhere—“slowly ebbs away.”  Back to fighting.  “You will see the son of Hercules, as he routs a host of creature [sic] soldiers, single-handed.”   So Second Banana is useless, well, I actually figured that.   And the narrator tells us that Mr. Bad “murders again” and we see King trying to free his daughter, and Mr. Bad throws a spear which kills King, and the narrator spells out that this is, indeed, the person who Mr. Bad just murdered.   Just in case, you know.

Then we cut to Argolees, messing with some big Stonehenge-type rocks.  I’m not going to guess, because I’m sure the Narrator will tell us.  Sure enough!  “Summoning all his powers, Argolees performs an almost impossible feat!”  And we see him straining at the rock bridge that links the Badites’ world with that of regular, decent folk.  “He moves the Bridge of Stone!” the Narrator finishes, and we see the rock bridge break into a few bits and tumble into the lava-filled abyss. 

And the funniest shot I’ve seen in a while happens, as we see mounted Badites ride to where the bridge should be, but isn’t, and they tumble into the lava.  Not just one or two of them before the others catch on—no, the whole damn troop rides to their deaths! Damn, they are stupid X2!   “The [Badites] plunge to their deaths, while catastrophe overwhelms their secret city.”  And we see some arches and stuff collapse into flame and general destruction. 

I sure HOPE this narrator is saving me lots of time, and the movie is over, or perhaps we will cut to some different adventure (perhaps with a different son, too).  But as they say in the Star Wars movies, I have a bad feeling about this. 

”Finally!” the Narrator says, as Argolees is in the center of a bunch of horse-mounted Badite guards, “you will see the ultimate struggle!   As [Mr. Bad] and his mercenaries run rampant against the mighty son of Hercules!”  Actually, it looks like Hercules is pretty much beating the crap out of the mercenaries, but, I, erm, am sure that it, uh, was (is) more interesting than just that.  In fact, we seem to see Argolees kill Mr. Bad by strangling him. 

Can we go home now?  It’s late, and we haven’t had food in some time, and now we know how it all ends.   Can we have some mercy?

Sigh, I guess not.  We cut from this thrilling collection of spoilers to some chicks dancing, which they seem to do a lot in these kinds of movies.   It’s your typical “odd culture” dancing, which means it doesn’t have to be good, just kind of lively.  And it’s okay, but I can’t help thinking it’s just adding to the running time.

We cut to a table where Melissa, Argolees, Queen and Mr. Bad are all seated, admiring this display.  “I’m offering you this spectacle in honor of our new alliance,” Queen says to Argolees.  And we get to see more spectacle.  Oh, thanks.   Now that we KNOW HOW IT WILL ALL END, I suppose spectacle is all we have now.  Damn you, spectacle!

As the dancers writhe around a statue (the footage of which seems lifted from a different movie) we get a few close ups of the cast (Second Banana, still pretending to be a guard, steals food).  Queen notes how Argolees doesn’t seem to find any of these dancing chicks beautiful, and he gazes rather significantly at Gilka, Melissa, and finally Queen, and notes that none of the dancers “have eyes like periwinkles.”   So, ladies, if you want a son of Hercules for a boyfriend (or more), I hope you’ll keep in mind the fact that he likes seashells.  (Fun Fact: A periwinkle is a type of snail.)

And we see some more “dancing” which is more like semi-erotic writhing.  Finally, Mr. Bad rises from his seat.   He holds up his hands and the music just stops!  Wow, he is pretty influential it seems.   And he leaves, and walks through a rough-hewn corridor, and says (arms outstretched), “Oh God of the demios…accept my sacred rite as a sign of thankfulness  for the alliance between—“

Well, the director decides to interrupt Mr. Bad, as we cut to Queen mentioning to Argolees that he ought to put on “the red cloak” and then meet her at her private room.  And we cut to some maidens discretely wrapping Queen in some sort of cloak after a bath, but this movie having been made way back when, we don’t get to see any more of Queen than we already have.  So, yep, we’re disappointed all around.  Can that be Second Banana’s cue to provide some comedy? 

Well, not yet, as we see Queen sitting down, and fawning ladies all roaming about this big perfumed bathroom set, and her (Queen) getting her hair combed and otherwise “done,” these things being a mystery to male types. 

Queen turns to Gilka.  “Your eyes are much too beautiful to belong to a slave-girl,” Queen opines.  “One rarely sees that pale INCLOO blue.”   (I’ve tried as many times as a Hercules film warrants, and cannot decipher the phrase.)   (I tried again.  It’s not “pale inchoo”, it’s “periwinkle” like what Argolees said earlier.)   Elsewhere in the bathhouse, some slave chick notes to another slave chick, “It won’t be long before she has a sacrifice, so she’ll be able to acquire the color of her eyes.”

”Poor little Gilka,” notes the other slave chick, just in case we were bored out of our skulls and didn’t care who the first one was talking about.  I mean, uh, in case we were sealed in freezing tubes and hated life.  Or something similar.

”You will all leave me,” Queen says, and boy do the slave chicks seem eager to do so.  Gilka, of course, being dim and desired, is the last to go, and Queen gives her a long look before we cut to Hercu—um, Argolees.  He’s wiping stuff on himself, because that is the custom here.  And he goes on wiping and wiping, until he remembers the dragon’s tooth that he cleverly hid in…his crotch.   And, finding this tooth, he grasps it tightly and leaves the shot.  But first, he (cleverly yawn) hides the tooth in his vest, then he puts the vest on.

I’m a lot less drunk than I ought to be.  I mean, come on, this is not only a “Hercules” film, but one that doesn’t even have Hercules and DOES have a narrator who told us, ten minutes ago, what we might expect to happen!   Sure, I put in spoilers but I warn you way ahead of time.  And now we’re being set up for the “Queen offers him poison scene,” as I’m sure we all remember the tooth can cure anything, but only once, even drunkenness!  Why, don’t mind if I do!

Or was that kill anything, like my interest?  I forget.

As Argolees leaves, a female hand puts a smoking bowl in his room.   A musical sting tells us this can’t be good.   The hand also grabs the vest that has the tooth and snatches it away.   But, it turns out Argolees didn’t leave quite fast enough.  He smells something bad, so he hesitates until (despite adjusting his belt a lot) he succumbs to the bad smells in his room.   Let that be a warning about burrito night!  He collapses.

And we cut to Queen’s room, where she sits, and stands just as a lady enters with her cape over her face.  And like generations of insecticides, this fools her!   Plan Nine from Outer Space was the first but not the last time someone tried this trick.  Queen asks of this obviously non-Argolees person, “Is that you, Argolees?”   And she doesn’t even bother to turn around.    So, when Melissa stabs her in the back, and she (Queen) falls into a convenient pool of water, even the musical sting doesn’t seem all that surprised.

Now, the rest of us are kind of surprised, I think.  Because Melissa wasn’t presented as a villain before.  Unless she was and I was too drunk to notice.   It was like they got their scripts that morning and the director said, “Okay, Melissa, as the villain—“ “But my copy of the script says I’m not a villain!” Melissa would protest, and the director would rip the script out of her hands and say, “You are now.”   I guess Melissa did hate the Queen, but she’s been doing that for years, why kill her now unless she knew she was in a movie now and the cameras were rolling?

Well, anyway.  We cut to Mr. Bad talking about stuff to a Badite.  Security is on Mr. Bad’s mind and he lets this underling know this is no uncertain terms.   Seems pretty dull but it isn’t my fault.   And guess what!   Melissa shows up, calls Mr. Bad, “Father!” and tells him that “one of our slaves” has pretty much killed Queen.  Well, he looks shocked at this news.   He asks who the slave was, and when told (by Melissa) that it was Gilka, he says “She will die at once, by my own hand!” because he’s a hands-on kind of guy.

So I guess we can see that Melissa can do her machinations pretty well.  Why?  Still don’t know that.

”I appreciate your great anger, father, and I know how you must be suffering,” Melissa says.  “But the girl who has killed our beloved Queen deserves a much more horrible death than the one you propose!”

Mr. Bad looks like, well this is beyond me, but the youth of today and all…

Melissa goes on about how youthful Gilka’s beauty is.  She notes how the women, here, will want to drink Gilka’s blood, and Mr. Bad looks fairly askance at this.   “Deliver her into my hand,” Melissa says, “and your revenge will be a superb one!”  Not waiting for Mr. Bad to be, you know, bad, Melissa orders Gilka to be removed from her slave pen to another, different slave pen.  The slave pen of doom!   Well, I am hoping that is its name. 

Mr. Bad continues to look pretty penetratingly at Melissa, and as various underlings go to see that evil is done, Melissa says that Mr. Bad should see to it that she, Melissa, is crowned Queen as soon as possible.  And she goes on a bit about how she’s supreme and everything.

Mr. Bad rises, kisses his daughter’s hand, says, “Your slightest wish is my command.”  And that is enough of that.  He kind of looks like he’s weighing his options or otherwise trying to be sly.  

But if he’s actually the King, how can his daughter be the Queen?  It doesn't work that way.  Unless there’s some kind of rule, you know, like no drinking blood unless there’s a queen on the throne, kings don't count, aces high.  

We cut to Gilka in a sort of cross we ALREADY SAW her in when the Narrator spilled various beans.   A soldier comes in and taunts Gilka that her blood will be useful to the new Queen.  Yes, it goes on longer than that but that is the gist.  Random Guard continues to taunt and then slaps her with a  whip and she screams.  And some blood runs down her leg into a bowl. 

And we cut to Melissa, apparently tasting the wondrous feeling of power for the first time ever, as she walks into the Queen’s throne room and admires the décor.  Because she is evil and can therefore like whatever strikes her fancy.  It can all be put down to evil, in the end.

…did someone just say “The End”?  Oh, damn, it was only me.  Heck and darnation!

Anyway, the music is all swelling with evil majesty, and finally Melissa sits in the throne. 

And Second Banana shows up in Argolees’ room, and is aghast to find him collapsed on the floor.  He shakes Argolees awake and natters on about the dragon’s tooth.  Apparently, they drugged Hercules so someone could steal it.   Actually, damn it, they drugged Argolees so they could steal it.  Second Banana burbles about Gilka being captured and so on, so they dash off to affect a rescue.  

And we’re back with Melissa on the throne.  She’s kind of sleeping, almost, because she starts when a Badite guard shows up to mention that “Argolees has disappeared, without a trace.”

”Send out a search party.  He must be recovered alive or dead at all costs!”  Satisfied at giving an imperial order, she excuses future failure by saying, “If they cannot discover where he is, you must bring into action the Warriors of Iron.”

Guard basically says (in very fancy tones) that he won’t fail, and he goes off to (more than likely) fail.

Cut to Argolees and Second Banana coming to a big iron gate.  Argolees bends the metal and they go through.  This takes a long, long time, and in the end Argolees barely manages to bend some of the smaller bars.  The music rises in an incredibly noisy crescendo.  They take a few brief steps into the corridor, Second Banana says that Gilka’s cell is at the end of one passage, and he (Second Banana) will take care of any soldiers.  Which I think means he’s going to try to be funny.  Can I hear a groan?  GROAN.  Thank you, rock and roll!

Some guards show up, and Second Banana directs them the wrong way.   He then skeddadles off, and instants later they follow so they weren’t fooled for a moment but only went where he pointed to throw him off their intent.  I guess.   Second Banana runs up some steps and throws a lever, and the guards are suddenly surrounded by a wall of flame.   They start yelling how they’re burning, and he raises the lever, the flames go down, the guards start to leave, and he lowers it again, they start yelling again.   I think it’s supposed to be funny, but it seems rather sadistic.  “Soldiers of the Queen!” Second Banana yells with disdain, then he blows a raspberry at them and runs off.  (I think Argolees was originally captured in this fire room.)

And we cut to Argolees slamming himself against a heavy door.  Second Banana comes up behind and, in response to Argolees’ query, says yes he’s sure Gilka is being held behind that door.  Argolees finally slams it open, and he looks inside.  “We’re too late,” he says.  Guess we have to take his word for it because we don’t get to see. 

Then a gong sounds.   Second Banana, who is remarkably well informed all of a sudden, says that this gong betolds a sacrifice about to take place, so perhaps they’re not too late after all.   Or at least, not much late.

The film goes black for a few seconds.  A few merciful, wonderful seconds!   Then it comes back.   Right where we were.  Argolees and Second Banana run back down the steps and go through some more corridors, and down more steps.   Somewhere along the line, Second Banana loses Argolees, but he goes on and gets back to the cell where everyone is being held.   Here, he pretends to be a captain and gets the guards to release the Good King (Gilka’s father).  Of course, we already know he’s going to get a spear in the back so it’s not much of anything.  Except running time. 

So, Second Banana frees King, sternly telling him he’ll pay for being so, um, disliked by the Badites.  And he gives him a couple of mild slaps, but as they leave he asks forgiveness saying “this is the only way” but I bet King knew that, since King didn’t say anything about “Hey, you’re my loyal Fruits Basket, what are YOU doing here?” and thus get Second Banana killed.

…hey, wait a minute!   You stupid King. 

Anyway, the two of them go meet up with Argolees, and Argolees says that King should tell him everything he can about Badites and the women who love them.   King mentions that the entire city is surrounded by a barrier which keeps the lava out.  If Argolees can lift the gates, that will destroy the city.  King (who here looks and sounds a bit like Claude Rains) says all the other prisoners should be freed so they can help. 

Argolees wants King to show him the barrier, while Second Banana is ordered to go back through the guards and alert the prisoners.  The two teams move off in opposite directions.  Argolees and King come upon a whole bunch of guards lined up on some stairs (lots of stairs in this city) and he knocks them down like dominoes.   This leads to a fight.

The two of them give a good account of themselves, killing several guards (Argolees manages to throw a spear through three of them at once).  They run off.

Into a pretty cool set.  I guess this is under the city, it’s all lit rather purplishly and reddish, with bubbling urns of flame pouring smoke into the low ceiling (the whole place is barely tall enough for Argolees).   Kudos to the art director and set builder here. 

A brief cut to Mr. Bad as he explains that they’re going to sacrifice Gilka so that Melissa can be Queen.

Then we’re back with Argolees and King, as they come to some kind of giant pulley-thing.

”Look at this,” he says, pointing to the winch, “it’s one of their many clever systems of defense.  The [Badites] were prepared for the day that their enemies might discover the underground fortress.  So this is what they have planned to do if ever they were attacked.  A certain number of volunteers would turn this winch, then another group of [Badites] would swing over the other one, so that the boiling lava would sweep out and destroy all the invaders.”

Argolees, who looks pretty impatient during this elaborate explanation, responds by saying “Come on!”  And they run off.  Well, I’m glad we learned some culture, there.  Otherwise it would have just been a waste of time.  Hey, wait a minute!

Actually, they dash to the other side of the winch and try to open it.   King adds his strength to Argolees, which I guess can’t hurt.  And this goes on a long, long time.  And then a chain breaks, rendering the winch useless, so Argolees has to haul the chain by hand himself.   Hey, anything for running time, right?   He tells King to go off and help warn the prisoners, and you should see how fast King scoots for an old man.

We cut to the main hall, where the assembled throngs are uh, assembled to see the sacrifice and stuff.  We see Gilka tied to a big wooden X.

But enough of that, back to Argolees straining, okay?   And he finally manages to move the gate.  Oh, it was only a little bit.  So we watch more straining.  And back to the sacrifice.  Melissa walks a little bit.

Hope you were holding on to your heart, there, because we’re back with Argolees.  It’s like a game of Pong, where everyone loses!   We see various parts of Argolees in extreme close up as he strains and sweats and generally is fairly manly.

Back to the guards where Second Banana freed King.   Sure enough, Second Banana comes back and says to the lone guard, “Hey there, why don’t you finish that story about—" but that’s all he says as he was only trying to distract the guard away from attacking slaves!   Who attack and overcome the guard.  So Second Banana’s been busy in the six or seven hours that Argolees has been straining at that gate-thing.

Well, the slaves are noisily happy to be freed, and King shows up to warn them about the lava and tells them to head for the throne room.  And honestly, these slaves are so loud and noisy it’s a wonder they aren’t immediately set upon by suspicious guards.  

But no matter, we’ve got more straining to watch!   Argolees finally manages to open the gate enough so that the lava itself will finish the job, which it does. 

Back to the ceremony, and Melissa is sitting on the throne.   Thrills!   Too many thrills, since we cut back to some smoke creeping down a stairway, and Argolees running through that cool purplish room.   Then some rocks falling.  Always welcome, rocks falling.

And we’re back with Queen, hands reaching out to crown her, but the whole hall starts to shake alarmingly and the hands withdraw.  And rocks and crap starts raining down on the assembled masses.   Melissa looks like she hates this, but then we try “Crowning Ceremony--take two” and the hands reach forward again, and the hall shakes again!   Finally, all the slaves arrive in the hall and, as before, begin to make short work of the guards.  Tell me again how these Badites managed to terrorize the country? 

Elsewhere, some more guards find Argolees, but he kicks them and fights them and overpowers them.  He throws flaming buckets on them, just for good measure.

Back in the hall, King frees the rather catatonic Gilka (I suppose she was having her blood drained) and just like we saw, Mr. Bad throws a spear and impales King, who then dies.  We’d be sad if we didn’t already know it was going to happen.  Hey, maybe this is like those Greek myths where everything was foredained by the Gods and there wasn’t anything you could do about it—when they spoke and cursed you, it was like a trailer that gave away the whole movie (your life).

Anyway.  Argolees throws an idol on the rest of the guards, and we see red jelly creep down miniatures.  I mean, lava pour through the city.  In the hall, the fighting goes on and with a dreamy, self-satisfied look, Melissa looks at the crown in her hands, and slowly (very slowly) puts it on.   And just like the last two times, the hall starts to shake!   That is one unlucky crown, I can tell you.  Mr. Bad looks pretty non-plussed at the way things are turning out.  “Everyone outside!” he yells, I guess so the fighting can continue in the fresh air.  Melissa doesn’t run outside, she stays on the throne looking like Everyone is trying to ruin my party.

We cut to Second Banana, guiding the slaves to freedom.  Then we cut to Mr. Bad, addressing some guards.  “Soldiers, listen to me!” he says.  “Argolees has destroyed our kingdom.  We must fight him!  All follow me, hurry!”  And they run off.  So, if you see some guys fighting Argolees, you’ll know why, now. 

Argolees makes it to the hall, where everyone’s dead except Melissa, who appears to be in a trance.  Argolees grabs her arm and shakes it, and she says, “How you dare to touch your Queen!” 

Argolees asks where Gilka is, and points out that “the kingdom you have seized is going up in flames, destroyed by the lava.”

Clutching the dragon’s tooth, she mentions how this powerful amulet will keep her safe.  It goes on for longer than that, of course.  Argolees insists on knowing where Gilka is.  She goes on about how famous she’s going to be, but Argolees asks about Gilka over and over, while she goes on about her terrifcness.   Finally she points out where she is.   Argolees could have saved us all running time by just having a look round, but he didn’t. 

He goes to her, and King, who’s not quite dead, says that Gilka is still alive and Argolees should save her.  Sounds like a good idea to Argolees, so he does.  King dies. 

Well, Melissa stands bolt upright at this.  “Now I am angered.  Kneel down before your rightful Queen!”

”Melissa,” says Argolees, forgetting the “Queen” part, “you should know that the amulet has the power to work only once.”  And he leaves, and she has this great Oh crap look. 

Man, that lava looks disgusting.  Melissa orders it to stay back, but it doesn’t.   (Lava is like a cat, you can’t tell it to do anything.)

And elsewhere, Argolees is carrying Gilka up the stairs, and more elsewhere, slaves and guards are escaping, until they run into each other and start fighting.  And the gross lava flows down some more stairs.

And the Badites find some horses, somewhere, and ride off but they’re not as fast as running peasants.  The peasants run outside, and lower the stone bridge as, below, Melissa has another Oh crap moment, brought to you by lava.  Argolees gives Gilka to some random guy and says he should take care of her and, also, get everyone across the bridge.  He (Argolees) is going to “hold back” the Badites, maybe with some magic tricks or sing-alongs, he doesn’t specify.

So, the slaves all get across the bridge.  Gilka seems to be well enough to walk, now, as she tries to go back to get Argolees but the slaves are firm with her.  Melissa keeps on giving us Oh crap looks, now with new alarmed Oh no! Looks.   Part of this complete crapfest. 

Argolees also runs across the drawbridge, not sure about the success of the “holding back” he was going to do.  He could have run across with the others, you know.

And just like we saw before, he gets under the drawbridge, and throws it into the lava.   It takes much longer than this simple description, naturally.  The Badites are still riding through the underground city, they really took the long way unless they stopped at a restaurant or something.  And some of the Badites manage to get across, but like we saw before (sigh), many of them tumble hilariously into the lava.   They’re stoic, I’ll give them that—not a single death scream, not even from the horses.

Well, the ones who made it across look pretty peeved, and they turn to attack Argolees, now standing at the edge of the cliff.   Hilariously, one of them rides at him, Argolees gets out of the way, and we see another miniature horse and rider tumble into the lava.

The others all circle him.  He grabs one of them and throws him off his horse and takes his spear (the guy just runs away).   He then spears or kills all but Mr. Bad, and as we saw in the preview (sigh), he jumps on Mr. Bad’s horse behind him and strangles him.  But he doesn’t kill him. 

No, they fight it out for a while, fists (Argolees) against sword (Mr. Bad).  Mr. Bad knows when he’s beaten, though, so he jumps on a horse to run away, but Argolees gets in front of the horse so it rears up, and Mr. Bad slides off the horse to, you guessed it, tumble into the lava.   He alone of all the Badites screams as he goes down.

And guess what?  Melissa is still not dead!   She’s not very happy either.   And I suspect from the music that the “not dead” part is followed by “yet,” then followed by “dead.”  Argolees told her the tooth would only work once…did she make a wish with it or something?  I don’t remember it coming into play except when it was stolen.   Unless she used it to kill the Queen (the murder was shot so we couldn’t see).  Okay, it was supposed to be deadly (one time), but how does that help against lava?   Lava isn’t really susceptible to poison you know.  But she seemed to think it would protect her and make her famous and play the accordion for her.  And none of that happened!

What does happen, just now, is that she falls down on the steps, the whole roof of the hall collapses, fires start everywhere, and then the top of the mountain explodes!  

Hercules watches the mayhem, and Gilka runs up to be beside him.  The music turns mushy as they turn to each other.  And all the slaves are cheering their fool heads off (directed by Second Banana).   And Argolees and Gilka walk toward the cheering throngs, superimposed over the mountain exploding (I guess they thought that was cool).

Fade to black, then our credits, with that same folk-rock Moody Bluesish song.  “The sons of Hercules!  They are there, when the need arrives, there to show that mighty [bites] still survive, on land or on the sea…as long as there is need--there’ll be sons of Hercules!  There’ll be sons of Hercules!”  We also see that cool monster from before, like some giant tree-monster with barbed tentacles.  Kind of like a scarier version of The Green Slime.  I’d pay money to see that monster!  Well, a little money.  A quarter.  A quarter and, hang on.  A quarter and about nineteen more cents.

Directed by “Lewis Mann” and produced by “Al World.”   Yeah, right. 

Well, let’s sum up.   This one wasn’t as bad as the one with the Mooninites, but then I think that’s not really possible in this universe.  It wasn’t as good as the one with the “Captive Women,” but it wasn’t really that bad (for a Hercules film).   I mean, it was bad in that everything stretched out like crazy (you haven’t known non-moving cinema until you’ve seen Argolees straining at something in sweaty close-up).   But there were parts that were entertaining.   Like the animals.  They mostly used real animals in the fights, and they were well trained and it’s always nice to see well trained animals.    Those of use who have cats rarely get to see this.

So, normally, this would be considered “Okay” fare, a bit predictable and rather episodic, but kind of entertaining when it wasn’t stretched out unreasonably.   I mean, I’ve seen worse.   And I didn’t hate Second Banana, he actually was useful in this go round and honestly amusing in a couple of moments.  That has to be a first, or at least a close second.   But there was one element that makes this one jump out of the ordinary.

That element was that bit, right in the middle, where the narrator gave away the whole rest of the movie, while showing us footage that supported his claims.   It was like attending a lecture where, right in the middle of his talk, the speaker let out a loud scream with no explanation, then resumed his speech.   What you’re going to remember most vividly is the scream.   “Remember when we heard Doctor Whatever speak?”  “Yeah, I remember he screamed in the middle.  What did he talk about?”  “I dunno, but boy that scream was loud.”

The episodic nature of the film (lion fight, dragon fight, almost bear fight, rescue the town) makes me think it was compiled from episodes of a television show, and that bit which tells the rest of the movie was some sort of “Next week, on The Sons of Hercules…”   But even teasers don’t give away the whole thing; they’re supposed to tease you into watching next week (hence the name).    The song was also very televisionesque. 

Other than that, probably the most memorable bits were the things that kept threatening to happen.   The tree monster from the credits, for example, never showed up.   Then the bear followed Argolees, but turned out to be okay—I kept expecting him to show up later, but that was just thrown in there.  “Hey, the producer’s son has a bear suit!  Let’s put him in the movie!”   The Warriors of Iron were named but never shows up (you can’t seriously tell me those losers on horseback—who ride right into lava—were Warriors of Iron.   I won’t even buy the argument that the “Iron” might have referred to the thickness of their skulls).

What’s really odd, and what bothers me, is that my overall impression of this is: “not bad.”   Because, reading this over to correct spelling and things, it sure seems like the movie kind of was.  Bad, I mean.  Maybe I’m building up an immunity to Hercules pictures (yes, including those made by his sons, smarty-pants).   What a sad sort of mutant power that is.

Can I recommend this?   Well, if you’re trapped in a steel box and this is the only thing on the small television just outside the tiny window of your box, it won’t entertain you, but at the same time it won’t make you want to wriggle until your box falls into the nearby lava pit and your sad existence ends.   If that counts as a recommendation…wow, how the mighty have fallen.