There's more well-muscled beef on display here than at a cattle farm in Texas, but for fans of camp/cult titles or action with a mythological bent, this double bill of Italian-made sword-and-sandal adventure films will provide some old-school thrills. In the widescreen Hercules Against the Moon Men
, Alan Steel (née Sergio Ciani) steps into the toga as the World's Mightiest Mortal (though in the original Italian version, he was called Maciste) to defeat a hot-blooded queen in cahoots with a race of evil invaders from the Moon. And in Riccardo Freda's The Witch's Curse
, Kirk Morris is Maciste, who must travel to Hell in order to save a woman possessed by the spirit of a dead witch. While the atrocious English dubbing renders these films into laugh fodder (Moon Men
made for one of the funnier "experiments" on Mystery Science Theater 3000
), their lush photography, frenetic pacing, and moments of pure budget surrealism (the ape creature in Moon Men
, the visit to Hell in Curse
) are solid reminders to both novice and veteran viewers of the Italian film industry's inventiveness and eye for spectacle, as well as the unadulterated fun these films provide. --Paul Gaita
Hercules Against the Moon Men (1964, 86 min.) - It's muscles versus monsters when a meteor-like object crashes into the ancient country of Samar, where Moon Men set up headquarters inside "The Mountain of Death" and demand hundreds of human sacrifices. Evil sexpot Queen Samara secretly joins the Moon Men after being promised she'll be "The Most Powerful Women on Earth" once their dead queen returns to life. And it just so happens that the dead Moon Queen is a dead ringer for pure-in-heart Princess Billis, whose blood must be given to the Moon Queen when the planets align and everyone is "under the evil of Uranus." Fortunately their dastardly plans are spoiled by Hercules, who also confronts a gorilla-like beast with gigantic fangs, the Moon Men's "huge deformed rock-like creatures," and the Queen's spike-covered torture machine. But when Herc isn't looking, Samara slips him an aphrodisiac that turns the muscular superhero into her own personal love slave! This colorful sci-fi sword and sandal fantasy is one of the most enjoyably wild and wacky of the Italian Muscleman movies, presented here in gorgeous widescreen "Cromoscope!" "C'mon men, let's storm the palace!" "The Witch's Curse" (1963, 75 min.) - When the villagers of a Scottish town believe an innocent woman is the reincarnation of a witch once burned at the stake, Maciste sets things right by going to Hell, literally, in the 1963 feature pitting Kirk Morris against The Witch's Curse!