sons of herculesEmbasy Pictures

“Tomorrow, in the arena, you will be torn into pieces by my elephants.”

Okay, so, stay with me as I try to go through trying to explain this one to you all. I might fail spectacularly, but that’s just part of the fun. So, there was this syndicated television series in the 1960s that was known as The Sons Of Hercules that were essentially repackaged sword-and-sandal films made in Italy. As to be expected, the original movies really had little to do with either Hercules or his sons, but they were gathered together, given opening and closing themes and narration to tie things into either the Greek demigod or any one of his sons, even if said movie they were chopping up had nothing to do with either.

In the case of the serial “In The Land Of Darkness”, this originally started life as the Italian movie Hercules The invincible, yet for whatever reason this American redux refers to the lead as Argolese. After getting past the theme song, where we’re informed that these progeny of the Greek demigod “were man as men could be”, despite wearing what looks like a miniskirt, and some voice-over narration, we meet up with Argolese, who immediately saves a damsel from a lion attack. The lady happens to be the daughter of King Tedaeo, who offers her hand in marriage to Argolese, if he could bring back the tooth of a dragon. You would have thought saving her from becoming lion chow would have been enough, but no, he has to sweeten the pot a bit. After acquiring a spear from a witch that will kill the dragon — with the witch wanting the same tooth as compensation — Argo fights the dragon, but then learns that the denizens of the village of his betrothed have been taken prisoner by the hordes of Demulus, a tribe that has a nasty habit of eating the hearts of their prisoners. So, Argo and a sidekick “comedy relief” by the name of Babar are off to save everyone. Will we be able to pay attention long enough to see if Argo is successful? That’s the question of the ages, folks…

So, this being an Italian film repackaged as an American television serial, Sons Of Hercules In The Land Of Darkness hits all the classic Bad Movie beats that makes this rather enjoyable in the way that I’m sure the movie producers weren’t going for: cheep budget, so much hammy acting, bad voiceover dubs, even worse wardrobe choices, etc. I will give the movie this: At least they utilized a real lion for the opening action scene. Sure, you knew that Argo would win, but still, I really was rooting for that lion.

Overall, Sons Of Hercules In the Land Of Darkness is cheesy bad in the kind-of-good sort of way. I should point out that I was only made aware of these repurposed serials by way of Rifftrax, having watched this riffed edition. And I still found myself laughing at points that had nothing to do with the riffs going on. Recommended in that this has to be seen to be believed.