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“IT FLOODS THE SCREENS OF THE WORLD WITH WONDERS NEVER BEFORE SEEN!”
1960: Hercules Unchained is a 1959 Italian-French epic fantasy feature film starring Steve Reeves and Sylva Koscina in a story about two warring brothers and Hercules’ tribulations in the court of Queen Omphale. The film is the sequel to the Reeves vehicle Hercules (1957) and marks Reeves’ second – and last – appearance as Hercules. The film’s screenplay, loosely based upon various Greek myths and dramas, was written by Ennio De Concini and Pietro Francisci with Francisci directing and Bruno Vailati and Ferruccio De Martino producing the film.
While travelling, Hercules is asked to intervene in a quarrel between two brothers, Eteocles and Polynices, over who should rule Thebes. Before he can complete this task, Hercules drinks from a magic spring and is hypnotized by a harem girl who dances the “Dance of Shiva”, loses his memory and becomes the captive of Queen Omphale of Lydia. The Queen keeps men until she tires of them, then has them made into statues. While young Ulysses tries to help him regain his memory, Hercules’ wife, Iole, finds herself in danger from Eteocles, current ruler of Thebes, who plans on throwing her to the wild beasts in his entertainment arena. Hercules slays three tigers in succession and rescues his wife, then assists the Theban army in repelling mercenary attackers hired by Polynices. The two brothers ultimately fight one another for the throne and end up killing each other; the good high priest Creon is elected by acclaim. [Wikipedia]
“A TROPICAL PARADISE, UNTOUCHED BY MAN…WHERE A BIZARRE CIVILIZATION EXISTS.”
1977: The Island of Dr. Moreau is a science fiction film, and is the second English-language adaptation of the H. G. Wells novel of the same name, a story of a scientist who attempts to convert animals into human beings. The film stars Burt Lancaster, Michael York, Nigel Davenport, Barbara Carrera, and Richard Basehart, and is directed by Don Taylor.
This movie is the second in A.I.P.’s H.G. Wells film cycle, which includes The Food of the Gods (1976) and Empire of the Ants (1977). [Wikipedia]
Shipwrecked Andrew Braddock washes ashore on a remote, tropical island in the Pacific. There he is attended to by the seemingly kindly Dr. Moreau and his dour assistant Montgomery. Also living in Moreau’s stockaded fort is the beautiful and exotic Maria, to whom Braddock is immediately attracted. The island’s natives appear very strange to Braddock, who questions both Moreau and Montgomery on their unusual appearances and behavior. Not satisfied with their explanations, Braddock discovers that these monstrosities are actually wild predator animals that have been imported to the island and, as a result of genetic manipulation and surgery, have taken on human characteristics, including rudimentary speech. Lionmen, hyenamen, bearmen, and other mutant monsters are kept in check by their fear of Moreau’s whip and surgical laboratory, “The House of Pain.” Disgusted by these unnatural experiments and cruelty, Braddock attempts to stop Moreau’s work… with tragic consequences. [IMDb]
“The greatest cowboy ever to ride into the Wild West. From Poland.”
1979: The Frisco Kid is an American western comedy film directed by Robert Aldrich, starring Gene Wilder as Avram Belinski, a Polish rabbi who is traveling to San Francisco, and Harrison Ford as a bank robber who befriends him. [Wikipedia]
It’s 1850 and newly-ordained orthodox rabbi Avram Belinski sets out on horseback from Philadelphia to San Francisco, knowing only that California’s “somewhere near New York.” Cowpoke bandit Tom Lillard hasn’t seen a rabbi before. But he knows when one needs a heap of help. And getting this tenderfoot to Frisco in one piece is going to cause a heap of trouble — with the law, Indians and a bunch of ruthless killers. [IMDb]
“The adventure of a lifetime is about to begin.”
1984: The Last Starfighter is an American space opera film directed by Nick Castle. The film tells the story of Alex Rogan (Lance Guest), an average teenager recruited by an alien defense force to fight in an interstellar war. It also features Robert Preston, Dan O’Herlihy, Catherine Mary Stewart, Norman Snow, and Kay E. Kuter.
The Last Starfighter, along with Disney‘s Tron, has the distinction of being one of cinema’s earliest films to use extensive computer-generated imagery (CGI) to depict its many starships, environments and battle scenes. It is one of the first films to use CGI to represent “real-life” objects instead of digital graphics.
The Last Starfighter was Preston’s final film role. His character, a “lovable con-man”, was a nod to his most famous role as Harold Hill in The Music Man. There was a subsequent novelization of the film by Alan Dean Foster, as well as a video game based on the production. In 2004, it was also adapted as an off-Broadway musical.