Today brings the nationwide premiere of The Legend of Hercules, marking the big-budget Hollywood return of  Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger director Renny Harlin.Legend… is supposedly the origin-story of the Greek mythological figure HeraclesKellan Lutz takes on the title role. Later this year, we will see Dwayne Johnson appearing in plain old Hercules, so this year represents a mighty comeback for de-muscleman.

FilmOn’s Demand could virtually make a whole section of Hercules films. One highlight is Hercules Against The Son of the Sun (1964), a highly surreal scenario placing the Greek demi-dude in the Amazon (No, that’s not a dirty joke from our sister site, we do mean the river).

Fury of Hercules from 1962 is more wild fun. Not due to the  dialogue, and certainly not because of  the performance of body-builder Brad Harris in the title role. It’s thanks to the undeniable cool bemusement of hip Gallic Pop-icon Serge Gainsbourg as the film’s  heavy, Menistus. In the second of his ‘peplums’ (Italian sword-and-sandal epics, the pre-cursors to Spaghetti Westerns) for director Gianfranco Parolini (Ten Gladiators, God’s Gun – also available free via FilmOn), Gainsbourg seems to take a louche delight in the proceedings, especially when lounging and mugging with the court of Queen Canidia (Lena Bari) and putting Harris-as-Hercules through a series of increasingly ridiculous public trials.

The wake of 1960′s Spartacus is strongly felt in Fury, as the half-enslaved populace of the city-kingdom is in a state of semi-revolt due to Menistus’ obsession with building a defensive wall. This sparks the line which lifelong agent provocateur Gainsbourg  delivers with the greatest relish, “Whatever misfortune should befall Hercules and Canidia, the people will lay it at the door of those rebels and we’ll get away with our hands clean…”

There are enough other performances of note/amusement to keep things interesting, from veteran Italian actor Carlo Tamberlani (SabataThe Divine Nymph) as the rebel leader to Luisella Boni’s dancing courtier Daria (recalling the fin-de siècle animated character) and a group of uncouth brothers led by a Zach Galafianakis look-alike.

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