Hercules Against the Moon Men [Maciste e la regina di Samar] (1964)

I suppose, after six years of Italian Hercules films they were starting to run out of ideas.

Mind you, if you look at the Italian title for this one, then you’ll see that it was actually part of the long running series of Maciste films, who was basically indistinguishable from Hercules by the Sixties.  Technically, Maciste was supposedly Hercules’ nickname and the character would have been called Hercules when he first appeared in Cabiria in 1914 if the screenwriter hadn’t thought the more obscure name sounded more erudite.

But whatever name he’s going under at the moment, Hercules certainly never fought moon men in any of the Greek legends.

Or is that what he’s doing here?  You have to wonder, with such an utterly bizarre notion in an Italian film, how much of the general craziness came from the original film, and how much from the attempts to repackage it for the American market.  I suppose in the end it doesn’t really matter.

So, we learn these “Moon Men” showed up when a star fell to Earth and ruined miles of once fertile mountain lands, we see the intense “green light” that shows when they come out of their cave, and are told about the monsters they unleash if they aren’t placated with human sacrifices. Throw in a bit of talk of mystical powers, an ancient High Priestess they’re trying to wake up, and some moderately impressive Rock monsters (big and reasonably menacing looking — but they can barely move!) and it is far from clear whether we are talking actual aliens from the Moon.  But something will happen when all the planets are aligned, they wake up their Queen and change our world into somewhere they find more comfortable.

We Earthlings will all die, but, hey, who’s counting.

Is all this nonsense science fiction?  I’m not sure even the people who made this thing can answer that.  I’ve seen films that were clearly SF whose aliens had technology that looked even less like high tech.  One can even point at another “classic” Peplum film, The Giant of Metropolis, which is clearly SF — while wrapping its Atlantean technology in plenty of mystical mumbo-jumbo.  However, while we are talking about mysterious denizens from another world, who came to earth in what appears to be a meteor, as far as this film goes those who talk about these aliens as gods might as well be right.

However, what this film really is is an excuse for a lot of muscleman heroics, with plenty of shots of rippling muscles and a few death traps for Hercules to tear his way out of.  So we get fights, and more fights, a bit of exposition, a touch of inept romance, then back to the fighting.

And that’s about it.  Well, except for the short-lived monster in the maze.  And the beautiful sorceress.  And all the other standard features.

I guess some movies just cry out for wisecracking robots, don’t they?

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