Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

Currently Showing at Cinema Steve

Sunday, September 26, 2010

When cave men and fire monsters attack!

Fire Monsters Against the Son of Hercules (1962)
Starring: Reg Lewis, Margaret Lee, and Nello Pazzafin
Director: Guido Malatesta
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

During the Ice Age, a peaceful tribe of hunter-gatherers are attacked by and threatened with genocide at the hands of a civilization of evil cave-dwellers, led hy their horny chief (Pazzafin) and his hard-on for the beautiful Moah (Lee). Will Maxus (Lewis), wandering hero and science wiz, be able to save them... and perhaps invent the shirt?

"Fire Monsters Against the Son of Hercules" is quite the misleading title. First off, there are no "fire monsters" in the movie (there are two-three monsters, but none of them have anything to do with fire... heck, the only reason one even menaces anyone is because stupid savages attack it!). Second, how can a film be about a "Son of Hercules" when it is set thousands of years before there ever was a Greece or a Hercules? (Of course, in its original inception, the film wasn't about a "Son of Hercules". That whole bit, along with the jaunty theme song, was added when the film was packaged for broadcast on American television. But, still, there are no fire monsters anywhere in this film.)

The general plotline here is that of just about every other Italian muscle-man/low-fantasy film from the 1950s and 1960s: The good people are menaced by the bad people--particularly the good people's women!--and they seem doomed for cetain until Maciste/Hercules/Ursus/Samson/Atlas/the-hero-of-many-names-and-few-shirts shows up to to flex his pecs, hurl some boulders and save the day. The film even offers not just one but TWO very lame dance numbers, with the extra one perhaps making up for the lack of an evil queen to seduce and trick the hero into captivity. (Every other standard of this sub-genre is present in the flick, however.)

Overall, the film is a relatively dull affair, although I did find the hero (named Maxus in the "Sons of Hercules edit, but Maciste in other versions) to be refreshingly intelligent when compared to some of the other "Sons" (not to mention Hercules himself) and the caveman trappings to be a nice change of pace. I also found the death scene of a couple of minor characters to be oddly moving... although I may just have been in a sappy mood when I watched this flick.

If you're a hardcore fan of Italian fantasy flicks, "Fire Monsters Against the Son of Hercules" might be just the fun bit of nonsense you're looking for. Others might find it a nice addition to a Bad Movie Night line-up... there are countless moments where even the dullest wit will be able to fire off a joke or two ala the robots from "Mystery Science Theater 3000". Everyone else can probably find better things to waste their time on.

(BTW, I do want to warn you about the theme song. It usually takes me about two days to purge it from my head and stop humming it whenever I watch a movie that opens with it.)

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