Thursday, October 27, 2011

You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Mad...Or When I'm in a Hercules Movie

Not to go all Jimmy Wilson from I Accuse My Parents, but it's my birthday, so I'm giving myself the day off from wingnuts.  Instead, I thought I'd post another preview of the sequel to Better Living Through Bad Movies, plucked fresh from the Low Hanging Fruit tree.  The movie itself is a sequel to the 1983 Golan-Globus epic, Hercules, which is perhaps most famous for the scene in which Lou Ferrigno is sodomized by a bear.  Enjoy!

The Adventures of Hercules (1985)
Directed by: Luigi Cozzi
Screenplay by: Luigi Cozzi. Story by: Luigi Cozzi (this credit subject to change, as Mr. Cozzi has received a cease and desist letter on behalf of Homer from the law firm of Dithyramb, Dithyramb, Hungadunga and Pederasty).

The sequel begins with another planetarium show, narrated by Ileum, the God of Making Shit Up. “There existed an angel-like figure,” he tells us. “A goddess.” (If you’re a goddess, but you can only get work as an angel, I would suggest going back to night school and getting your GED.)

“From within her came the seed of fire and light, that was to issue forth all stars, planets, and moons. “ To demonstrate this concept, a large sperm wearing Eva Gabor’s chiffon house dress from Green Acres wanders past the camera. Suddenly, the Foley guy drops a shopping bag full of cowbells, waking up the Eye of Sauron, which immediately starts hurling bowling balls from its tear duct, knocking down two-thirds of the audience, but leaving itself with a tricky 4-10 split. Naturally, all this adds up to the gods creating… HERCULES! (Presumably they followed the Biblical paradigm of molding a man from the earth itself and breathing life into his nostrils. Except in this case, Zeus was a little low on modeling clay, so he fashioned Hercules out of Muscle Juice brand posing oil and a tube of Sudden Tan.)

Zeus has been ruling the universe thanks to his “seven mighty thunderbolts,” but then four gods (represented here by three aging Italian starlets and a Michael Rennie impersonator whose spiral-permed beard gives the impression he killed the lead singer of Dead or Alive and glued the victim’s scalp to his chin) went rogue and stole the lightning bolts as part of an elaborate scheme to electrocute Lee Trevino.

Cut to Earth, where a drag queen in a maribou-trimmed muumuu and Lucille Ball fright wig brings a whimpering girl to an ancient altar, which is all that remains of a once-mighty civilization that was apparently based on Masonite and corrugated boxes. Lucy bellows, “the fires await her silken flanks!” So, we’re having flank steak. Yum. Good thing I brought my Mom’s famous German potato salad. Say, how long do you like to marinate your ingénue?

He spread-eagles her over a granite sphere that vaguely resembles the kind of exercise ball Wilma Flintstone would have used to work on her obliques, then Anteus, the guest of honor shows up. Anteus consists of some rotoscoped footage of the Id Monster filched from Forbidden Planet, and he burns the girl to a smoldering crisp, which completes the sacrifice but ruins the barbeque (I hope everyone’s hungry for potato salad). A Hippie Chick observes the ritual, then jumps on a horse and rides over to the next scene, where she proceeds to bitch about the whole thing to Pocahontas.

It seems their tribe is being flame-roasted like Whoppers by a monstrous copyright infringement, but Pocahontas reminds Hippie Chick that she is destined to save them with her power of prophecy, and maybe she should, you know, get off the pot. Hippie Chick (whose name is Urania – which prompts the question, “How can you have Uranus without Us?” It just seems snooty and elitist) -- sinks to the ground and says No, she’s not ready. And Oh, by the way, I just predicted you’ll be the next victim.

Well! I guess the Color of the Wind this season is black. In desperation, Urania goes to consult “the Little People.” My hope that Peter Dinklage will show up in this film is immediately crushed, however, when we see that the Little People are just the Mothra Twins, who've been forced by a poor job market to move into a double-wide Hibatchi.

They tell her that Rebel Gods stole Zeus’s thunderbolt collection, and now the Moon is going to crash into the Earth, and she really should look up that Hercules guy.

“But nothing has been heard from him in ages,” Urania complains. Or at least not since the first movie came out in 1983. Not so, say the Mothra Twins, for their gift of prophecy and access to reveals that in the past two years Hercules has appeared on both Night Court and The Fall Guy.

Meanwhile, on Olympus (which, for some reason, is on the runaway Moon), Zeus wonders if he’s actually guest starring on Space: 1999, and if so, can he get Catherine Schell to sign an 8x10 glossy? But his secretary Della Street convinces Zeus to hire Hercules to recover the stolen thunderbolts and offer him the same 10% finder’s fee Banacek used to get.

Cut to Herc, standing in out space, arms akimbo, and sporting a flesh-colored posing pouch that brings the phrase “anatomically incorrect” to mind. Seriously, thanks to the steroids, he makes G.I. Joe look like Johnny Wadd.

Herc uses the Enterprise transporter to beam himself down to Earth, where he's attacked by American gymnastics champion Mitch Gaylord, who is dressed as an Afghan hound. Mitch uses the ancient art of Gymkata on Herc, but the fight quickly winds up, as most fights do, on the ground, with the guy in the pedigreed dog costume straddling the weight lifter with the Ken Doll groin.

Herc impales his foe with a fallen tree branch, and Mitch quickly evaporates, leaving behind a lightning bolt! So remember, if you’re ever attacked in the woods by an Olympic gold medalist dressed like a Westminster Dog Show contestant, stab him with a stick, because there’s a prize inside.

Cut to the Rebel Gods (which would make a cool name for a rockabilly band), who discuss their scheme to crash the Moon into the Earth by hiding thunderbolts inside of furries. Hercules must die, and they decide that the only man who can beat him is King Minos, the guy Herc killed at the end of the last movie. So the gods murder a member of the USC Trojan marching band in order to use his blood to resurrect Minos, and to prevent him from breaking into “Tusk.”

Back in the forest, Herc comes upon a gruesome scene. A riderless horse grazes in a clearing, empty leather man-purses are scattered about, and a mannequin lies on the ground, pierced with spear and drizzled with pizza toppings.

Suddenly Pocahontas bursts from cover and throws herself into Herc’s massive arms, weeping that Urania was taken by “Slime people! They rise out of the mud and the mire and hold you by suction!” What’s more, they took her “toward the Great Mouth.”

Fortunately, they’ll be easy to find, because they advertise in the “Adult Entertainment” section of the L.A. Weekly classifieds.

Herc shakes her violently and admonishes, “You should know, this is a very dangerous region!” Which the director illustrates by cutting away to a random shot of a moss-covered stone tortoise in a sculpture garden.

Hercules and Pocahontas find Urania tied up outside a Lions Club haunted house. They cut her down, and are immediately tackled by the Slime People (they vaguely resemble Morlocks who fell into a septic tank, except without the Rod Stewart hair).

Mitch Gaylord is back, and is still quite nimble for a man hand-dipped in human waste. Herc punches away (each time he connects with one of the bipedal turds, fireworks go off, making the epic battle scene resemble a combination of a German Scheiße fetish video and the opening credits to Love, American Style).

They retreat into the haunted house, but their feces-flocked attackers feel that the $7 door charge is a bit pricey for some foamcore tombstones and a bowl of grapes masquerading as disembodied eyeballs, so they shamble off to the showers.

Inside a cavern, Herc and the girls are met by a regal woman who has teased her long, silken tresses into a stately dunce cap of hair. She conducts them through a wax museum consisting of spray-painted models from the life drawing class at the local community college, then points out the back door to the cave, which she assures our hero is almost completely free of crap-coated tumblers.

Suddenly, blindingly bright creatures burst out of the walls! They’re seemingly made of light, and humming with electricity, but kind of tubby and ill-defined, due to the bad post-production matte job, so they look a bit like laser Shmoos. And the best part? They pop when you punch ‘em!

Hercules deduces that nobody but the Gorgon Medusa would keep laser Shmoos inside a wax museum. Fortunately, he saw Clash of the Titans back in ‘81, and we’re treated to a cheap, shot-for-shot remake of the shield-mirror-decapitation scene, leading to 9 seconds of actual stop motion animation! Granted, it’s a really crappy claymation model that makes Davy and Goliath look like Jason and the Argonauts, but it’s a relief from all the Mitch Gaylord cameos.

Herc and his two groupies wander down a scenic jogging path, until they come upon some crudely made plaster of Paris dolls dangling from the trees like Christmas decorations.

“It’s like Hell on Earth!” Urania whispers, deeply unnerved by the lack of twinkling lights and popcorn strings. Actually, it's more like a wind chime clearance at Pick 'N' Save, but an outraged Hercules charges into the bushes, determined to find the fiend responsible. Or maybe that Big Gulp kicked in and he just has to pee real badly.
Herc is attacked by the Ajax White Knight, who is not only stronger than dirt, but armed with a neon battleaxe that shoots blaster bolts. But before he can use his unholy powers to remove the stubborn grass stains from Herc’s loincloth, our hero gives him a clumsy, playground-style push. The White Knight obligingly dies, and a piece of lightning falls out of his pants.

So: three thunderbolts down, four to go, with three minutes left in the first half.

You remember that Dedalus chick from the first film? The greatest artificer known to Man, who expresses her belief in the supremacy of science over myth by wearing a shower curtain cape, a vinyl singlet and a protective groin cup? Well, she’s back, and she and Minos are hatching a plan: they will exterminate all life, both human and divine, then Dedalus will recreate Mankind in her own likeness; so if these two maniacs are successful, we can look forward to genocide, deicide, and a severe shower curtain shortage.
To beat Anteus, the Forbidden Planet monster that’s scheduled to fricassee Pocahontas, Herc needs to fire-proof himself, so he and Urania wander around the bottom of the ocean looking for the cast of Spongebob Squarepants. Instead, they find three telepathic, sub-aquatic strippers, who are sitting in a cave wearing pasties and mermaid tails that appear to be made from shiny foil gift wrapping paper.

They tell Hercules that he can survive the fire of Anteus if he just nips down to Hades and siphons the Styx with a turkey baster, because the River of the Dead is made from sunblock with a 35 SPF rating. So, we’re all primed to follow Herc on a trip to the Underworld, and watch him battle an army of corpses in a major action set piece. Instead, one of the mer-strippers reaches into her make-up bag and just hands him a bottle of Styxblock.

Meanwhile, the drag queen from the opening sequence has returned, and has Pocahontas bound in chains and spread-eagled over Wilma’s fitness equipment.

Anteus appears, and Pocahontas screams, ‘it’s Hell on Earth!” Actually honey, it’s scratches on the emulsion, so relax. Then our hero shows up and challenges Anteus to a clash of titans, which takes the form of Hercules punching a blurry white cursor around the screen until we’re not sure if we’re watching a duel to the death between god and demi-god, or if Herc is just playing Pong.

Hercules wins, is awarded another thunderbolt, and advances to the next level. But we’ve still got 30 minutes to go, so all I can say is, the End Boss better be worth it.

A giant skull slips Urania a roofie and she goes on a cosmic trip; by which I mean she stands in outer space in a cheesecloth bikini while the itinerant sperm from the opening credits zips around her like Tinkerbell.

Meanwhile, Herc and Pocahontas are attacked by Amazons, which sounds fun, but the women warriors are clearly the same stunt men who played the poop monsters earlier in the movie, except now they’re wearing body stockings to hide their hairy Italian forearms, and sporting darts in their breastplates. The fight ends when the Amazons drop a net on Hercules, which, as fans of the genre know, is the equivalent of giving Superman a kryptonite suppository.

They lay Hercules out in a web-shaped hammock, then summon their “spider queen” from the Tri-Wizard Tournament Goblet of Fire (it’s a small role, which the Goblet only took in order to get its SAG card). She means to do the nasty, in the long tradition of Herc-bedding evil queens, but Herc just rolls on top and strangles her in a rather ugly scene that feels like it was lifted from the 1976 film Snuff.  But then she dissolves and we see that she was just another mule who had swallowed a condom full of lightning.

The Rebel Gods bitch about how Hercules is repo-ing all the thunderbolts, then Minos shows up, and thanks to SCIENCE!, he can shoot lasers from his eyes. He disintegrates two of the gods (it’s not clear who, exactly, but I think he kills Poseidon, God of the Sea, and Debbie, Goddess of Pore-Tightening Astringents).

Herc and the girls climb up through the Eye of Sauron, and emerge in the Attic of the Gods, where they find the Sixth Thunderbolt, some squirrels chewing on the fiberglass insulation, and Apollo’s secret stash of bodybuilding magazines hidden behind the water heater.

Then Minos climbs into the Attic to confront Hercules and look for his water-skis. He gives Herc the old, “Join me, and we will rule this Galaxy as Father and Beefcake!” speech. But Herc refuses, so Minos Tasers him with SCIENCE!

But all is not lost, because Athena bequeaths Hercules a shield that will protect him from “evil science.” Unfortunately, it’s a Dalkon Shield, and Hercules is immediately tied up in litigation, sued for compensatory and punitive damages, and later forced to file Chapter 11.

Herc and Minos meet in outer space, where Minos turns a couple of stunt men into rotoscoped line drawings; then Athena rotoscopes Hercules, and they have an epic battle of crude coloring book illustrations which lasts exactly 17.7 seconds, because I timed it. But hey, special effects this lavish are costly.

Minos turns himself into a menacing stick figure, and he and Make Sure You Color Inside the Lines Hercules dance around until Herc impales Mr. SCIENCE!, causing Minos to turn into a Tyrannosaurus Rex. And where did they get the rotoscoped dinosaur footage? Funny you should ask, because Herc suddenly transforms into a line drawing of King Kong, and we get to watch that famous giant ape versus thunder lizard fight sequence again, but this time acted out by neon Magic Marker sketches on one of those black dry erase boards they use to post drink specials in sports bars.
Finally, Kong Herc throws neon reptile Minos at the green screen, and he explodes. Great! The villain’s dead. But there’s still 10 minutes to go in the running time. Crap!

It turns out that Hera hid the seventh thunderbolt inside Urania’s heart, which explains the young woman’s history of heartburn and acid reflux. Urania begs Hera to give her “the kiss of death.” By this point, I’m beyond hoping for a lesbian make-out scene, and if the kiss works as advertised, I’d like to get one myself, please.

Meanwhile, the Moon is hurtling toward the Earth, so Zeus turns Hercules into the Amazing Colossal Basketball Player, and tells him to block the shot. Hercules stops the worlds from colliding, then holds them apart while the Earth gives the Moon a Golden Shower (again, I assume this scene was inserted to increase box office and VHS rentals in the German market).
All is well. Urania is appointed a Muse, which is a great honor, although she later quits when she realizes the job involves sharing a cubicle with Olivia Newton John. Hercules turns back into a line drawing, and uses the Enterprise transporter to exit the movie, because he's just booked a guest spot on Matt Houston.

So, what have we learned? Well, from the closing credits we learned that the single biggest department working on the film was “Cell Animation and Rotoscoping.” We learned that the wigs were by “Sexy Wigs.” And we learned that Cannon Films had the brass-plated balls to slap a copyright notice on this thing. The End.


Thorlac said...

Laser Shmoo is now my porn name.

Brian Schlosser said...

Well, happy birthday, Scott!

You may or may not be happy in your work, you may sometimes shirk, but I know for a fact that you won the essay contest - in our hearts!

If I 1500 miles west of here, I would treat you to a big ol' hamburger sammich and some french fried potatoes!

Anonymous said...

And if I were oh, 10 000 km North of here, I would give you a big old chocolate cake with Happy Birthday, Scott on it in pink icing (with comma).
Ask Mary to give you a big hug and kiss from me, a devoted admirer.
PS This is the most complicated loincloth movie plot I have ever read. Eeek.

James Briggs Stratton "Doghouse" Riley said...

Happy birthday, my friend.

Chris Vosburg said...

Happy Birthday, Scott! I [jaw dropping] thanks for the [drool] WTF? OMG, what are those people doing-- I

Seriously, thanks for this, Scott, it's one of your best, and Happy Birthday. Hope to see you this ChrisVmas.

Unknown said...

Oh, and by the way, as tradition demands,

"Here's twenny dollars, go out and and have yourself a time! We're goin down to Jack Taylor's at the beach! See ya!"

"By the way, I read your essay, Jimmy! [holding finger to thumb] it stinks!"

heydave said...

Happy birthday!
May you receive your very own hot green loin cup; they look great on men AND women!

Kathy said...

Happy Birthday Scott. May you someday be a neon animal fighting another neon animal in the sky. Forever.inglat

mew said...

If you're ever in Rome, go to the Profondo Rosso horror movie memorabilia shop and there behind the counter you will find...Luigi Cozzi. Seriously. He's a really nice guy, and he'll talk your ear off about science fiction and horror movies.

And I'm sure the Sexy Wig shop is somewhere nearby.

Stacia said...

Happy birthday! I got you a bear flung into space, did you get it? Kinda hard to wrap, but totally worth it.

One of my best memories of the last 6 months is watching the Ferrigno Hercules in a twitter marathon... and yet I did not know it had a sequel. Which I must now obtain and devour thanks to your preview. Cannot wait for the book!

Brian Schlosser said...

I also gotta say: big props for the best IUD joke I've read in a long time...