Goliath and the Dragon, like most of the sword and sandal films, doesn’t really make much sense. The reason why it in particular doesn’t make much sense is that the US release was handled by American International Pictures, and it was heavily re-edited and re-written with new scenes added. It’s actually a Hercules film, and follows the story of Hercules’ twelfth labor fairly closely, but the English dub changes so much of the story it actually becomes quite hard to follow. It opens promisingly enough with Goliath travelling to the underworld to recover the blood diamond of the god of vengeance, fighting a puppety Cerebus and a giant man-bat along the way. Meanwhile his brother Illus is sneaking off to see Thea, princess of Ancient Greek Country, who Goliath hates because he wrongly believes she had his family killed (it was actually her uncle/warder/creepy guy King Eurystheus). All of this is part of an elaborate plot to kill Goliath, have Eurystheus marry Thea, and attack Thebes. Because that is what evil king’s do, apparently. When that doesn’t work, they send a slave girl to convince Illus and Goliath’s wife that Goliath is secretly in love with Thea. When that doesn’t work they convince Illus to poison Goliath. When that doesn’t work they kidnap Illus and attempt to execute him by elephant. When that doesn’t work they send Goliath’s wife to hell after she is kidnapped by a convenient centaur. Eventually all the plans come to naught, Illus marries the princess and the villain is thrown into the snakepit.
There’s a glimmer of a, if not good, at least entertaining, film in here, but the editing so badly butchers the story that all the little subplot and villainous plans blur together. The effects are ambitious, if a little obviously puppety, save for a stop-motion dragon added in for the US release. But the draw is Mark Forest as Goliath/Hercules, and he’s a bit disappointing. Like most sword-and-sandal stars, they’re playing off the Steve Reeves look, and pretty closely at that in this case. And while Forest’s singlet is impressive, he’s actually fairly dull and needlessly serious looking for the entire film. Very little personality shines through, and no fun at all. The film is also relentlessly heteronormative, with no camp or accidental homoeroticism to salvage it.
Posted by Dorian in PBBC
The Cormorant, 1986, Stephen Gregory
I’ve developed a soft spot for Welsh horror. Add a murderous bird into the mix, and yeah, of course I’m picking it up.
Vulcan, Son of Jupiter is ambitious, you have to give it credit for that. The story is steeped in Roman mythology and features regrettable looking monster costumes that are a special effects stretch for this type of film by any means. The film opens with Venus traveling to Earth for a tryst with Adonis, much to the annoyance of Jupiter, who decides that she must be wed to either Mars or Vulcan in order to tame her. Vulcan and Mars engage in some not at all homoerotic wrestling before Mars and and Venus escape to Earth with the help of Pluto. While Mars and Venus go to Thrace, to hatch a plot with the king to overthrow Jupiter, Vulcan pursues them, losing his godly powers in the process. He’s found by Etna, a daughter of Neptune, but they are quickly captured along with some Sicilians by monsters. Everyone is saved by tritons sent by Neptune and then the plot goes completely off the rails. Mostly this is probably due to poor dubbing and editing, as people race back and forth across the countryside, get captured, escape, get recaptured, Pluto may or may not be helping Mars, Venus may or may not be betraying Mars, Jupiter may or may not be orchestrating all this as a test, etc. In the end the day is saved thanks to more not at all homoerotic wrestling and Vulcan is rewarded with life on Earth as a mortal with Etna.
It’s nice to see at least an attempt at a semi-faithful depiction of mythological themes, instead of the usual willy-nilly name borrowing you usually get with fantasy films, but the goodwill engendered by that is squandered by how poorly made the film is. The camera angles are awkward, the editing is atrocious, and the plot doesn’t make any damn sense. Iloosh Khoshabe plays Vulcan, and even by the standards of a physique film, he’s a fairly obscure actor, though nice to look at. The rest of the screen-time is given mostly to Roger Browne as Mars and Gordon Mitchell as Pluto, and having three bodybuilders run around does make for some pleasant eye-candy. There are plenty of shots of Venus lying around languidly in semi-seductive poses for the nominal audience as well.
Posted by Dorian in PBBC
The Nightrunners, 1987, Joe R. Lansdale
I picked this up mostly as a curiosity, as I prefer “weird horror” Lansdale to splatterpunk Lansdale by a big margin. Mostly I’m just slightly nostalgic for the era of chepish, slim pulpy horror paperbacks.