Thursday, November 02, 2006

XXX. LA VENDETTA DI ERCOLE (GOLIATH AND THE DRAGON) 1960



La Vendetta di Ercole

Year;
1960

Director ; Vittorio Cottafavi
Country; Italy and France

Duration; 98 minutes (Original film aspect ratio; 2.35:1)
Available; DVD Region 1 Something Weird DVD
Colour * Original aspect ratio * English Dub * Superb Transfer*

Alternative;
Goliath and the Dragon (USA) Hercules' Revenge (USA) Vengeance d'Hercule, La (France) Vengeance of Hercules (USA)


The Players;

Gaby André (Alcinoe) Mark Forest (Goliath) Sandro Maretti (Ismene) Federica Ranchi (Thea) Broderick Crawford (King Eurystheus) Philippe Hersent (Illus) Leonora Ruffo ( Dejanara)


Mark Forest, he of cuprinol stage school ability appears as Goliath in this decent slice of sword and sandal fantasy and is rewardingly animate this time around.

Goliath and the Dragon is quintessentially myth enriched and beautifully lavish but is annoyingly confusing in plot.

So much underlying intrigue and mismatched affairs of the heart that only viewing for a second time did things eventually slot in place foe me.

Some elements of the plot still remained unfathomable though and genning up on the movie I did find a plausible explanation that explains why, at times, it lacks narrative and chronology.

Goliath and the Dragon started out as another promising Italian sword and sandal outing to appeal to the masses. Unfortunately the production ran out of money and American International Pictures bailed out.

A.I.P decided to film additional material with the co-operation of the Italians. Although Goliath and the Dragon does make sense it definitely lacks fine tuning in plot and somewhere something does initially get lost in translation which is more than likely due to the demands of the new kids on the block, as A.I.P were getting the producers et al out of a pickle it is understandable.

Another let down is the villain of the peace. Broderick Crawford barks the odd order and growls the odd command but all this is dragged down by his shitty ‘I’m-only-in-this-for-the-money’ attitude.

At times Crawford comes across as being clearly unimpressed by the proceedings, the thought no doubt more on the pay cheque than on he character potential.

Every cloud has a silver lining, allegedly, and these let downs are superseded by spectacle once again. Delightfully rich sets with swish interiors and idyllic exteriors pushes the interest factor up a further couple of notches.

The pace rolls along amicably so, throwing in the odd thrill where necessary but is hampered by the narrative flaw which occasionally just freezes.

In the original Italian version the hero was none other than Hercules. Instead of sticking with this due to legal nitpicking A.I.P wanted a change so the character became Emilius.

It was going to be Hercules after the original Ercole and the film was to be originally titled ‘Hercules’ Revenge’, unfortunately for A.I.P Universal held the rights and Goliath it had to be.

Emilius due to his strength is known as Goliath, which sticks throughout the movie and proved highly marketable.

We also get to see a bit of variety on the creature feature front but due to the budget and basics are hilarious at the same time.

The hilarity isn’t made from a superiority main ingredient should we be dumb enough to compare something conceived in the late 50's, early 60's to effects commonplace in the now.

It is more from more from a charm and admiration by what they could make do with, as most peplum thought has been applied bringing us some smashing vignettes of ancient action and nostalgic adventure.

The visual feast starts with Goliaths ascension to the underworld. In order for his super strength capacity he is laboured now and again by the tasks of the gods. He arrives into a surreal kaleidoscopic underworld.

Purple fogs and e-number lava spews forth across ragged infernal landscapes a surprisingly psychedelic touch considering the movies date.

Goliaths’ aim is to obtain a sacred gem for the Olympians. He first encounters a giant carnivorous dog and then stumbles in the flight path of a humanoid bat creature before he finally obtains his goal.

Goliath is finally rewarded his much earned break and yearns for a bit of tranquillity and stability with his wife Dejanara.

This idyll in the country is broken when Goliaths’ brother Illus brings some bother to the household. Illus has fallen for Thea; she is the fiancée of King Eurystheus who is a bit of a bastard.

Eurystheus is also a heavy duty egomaniac who also has his sights on Phoebes, Goliath stands in his way and despite the inconvenience there has been little opportunity and reason to reason an attack.

This gives enough reasoning for Eurystheus, with the assistance of Alcinoe the slave and his loyal legion commander Ismene, to conquer Phoebes and enslave the people.

When Goliaths' brother is eventually kidnapped he is enraged and we learn that Eurystheus instigated something similar before involving Goliaths parents,which resulted in their death.

For fear of fatal reprisals like before Goliath decides to act and use his godlike strength to defeat the enemy.

Time is of the essence as not only does he need to save his brother from being trampled to death by a herd of elephants but his beloved wife has also been kidnapped by his nemesis and is in bondage, at the mercy of a fire breathing scaly behemoth !

There is a wealth of fantasy going on and let’s face it you can’t get more peplum than the iconic ‘super’man versus a dragon can you.

So the dog demon looks like he has the mange, the bat beast even shows us the wires he uses to fly and the dragon is about to overdose on valium with his heavy head, but these are so memorable due to their comic book boldness.

So rich, so different but a style of filmmaking sadly, so forgotten.

The direction is rightly bombastic and sweeping; sporting a decent rhythm despite a confusing narrative, luridly fun cinematography courtesy of Mario Montuori.

Something Weird Videos region 1 nets us an immaculate print to view and through my research into this genre is really the only best way to view this ambitious type of flick.

Striking in it’s palette of colour, rich in it’s ability to please but sadly marred in other ways, Goliath and the Dragon still has the propensity to delight and is above your average film of this ilk.


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