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Hercules (1983)

Nomination Year: 1996
SYNOPSIS:  Lou Ferrigno stars as Hercules in this Italian take on the famous legend. Sadly, as is so typical in early-80's Italian takes on anything, this one is avant-garde to the point of being particularly ludicrous. It might as well have been called Hercules in Space or Hercules vs. the Lame-Ass Mechanical Creatures, because the "gods" that oppose him send these clockwork monstrosities that always get defeated in a flash of blue chroma-key light. He befriends Circe the witch who, in complete defiance of classic mythology, helps him reclaim his love from the evil Daedalus. This is all punctuated by Lou's non-acting and dubbed voice, and some of the cheesiest effects of the era. Must be seen to be believed.

Smithee Award Winner! "Alas, Poor Yorick"

I Forgot You Could Stab With Them, Too
Herc is chained in the evil queen's dungeon, and just for extra measure, he's literally surrounded (i.e., in a ring) by spear-toting guards. The bad queen and her entourage come to gloat, and Herc strains against the chains. When it looks like he's going to break free, the idiots all throw their spears. Herc simply steps leisurely aside, and a spear guts the bad lady's handmaiden in -- I'm sorry -- a tremendously hilarious fashion.

Smithee Award Winner! Stupidest-Looking Monster

Attack of the Mechanical Space Bee
In one of the opening scenes, we see Hercules plowing a field. Without a horse. Daedalus and his god friend send the first of the mechanical menaces: a giant flying "bee" is our best guess. All it ever does is flap its wings and snap its tiny jaws -- I don't know what it was supposed to accomplish in the way of destruction. It's clearly a model superimposed onto the scene, and Lou does his best to pretend it's really there. Herc defeats it by throwing a big log at it, and it crashes and disappears, rimmed with blue light. The encounter is truly laughable all the way through.

Smithee Award Winner! Worst Special Effect

Mighty Pantheon's Flying Herc-Catch
Baby Hercules is sent downstream in a basket, Moses-style. As it's about to go over a waterfall, Zeus intervenes. He sticks his hand through the back of the waterfall and catches the plummeting basket. At least we're supposed to believe it's Zeus's hand -- the truly primitive claymation hand looks like it's straight out of Monty Python.

Smithee Award Winner! Worst Acting

How Much for Just the Muscles?
If anyone's going to play Hercules, Lou Ferigno pops right to mind (hey, it beats casting some skinny blond guy, right?). Unfortunately, due to a hearing problem, Lou couldn't really speak or act beyond grunts and roars. That's perfect for The Incredible Hulk, but they had to dub his voice for all his lines in Hercules. That's one strike against the film right there, but sadly, Lou can't really emote well, either. In this scene, he has to get a magic amulet and pretend to be in pain from the mystical field protecting it. It looks more like he's trying to remember his next line. When he gets mad at Circe, he yells, "A curse on you!" with a constipated look on his contorted face.

Smithee Award Winner! Worst Picture

Stand Back, He's Gonna Hurl!
Herc and Circe now need to travel to Daedalus's fortress. They have a chariot and rope, but no horses. Then Hercules gets the bright idea to tie the rope around a convenient boulder and whirl the thing around his head, hurling it out ahead of them. It works! They're pulled through space, past multicolored planets and stars. They make a whooshing sound as they go by and somehow Herc seems to be able to steer, because the chariot appears to turn several times. Once you've stretched the laws of Physics that far, why not break them entirely? Suddenly, the rope snaps and our heroes are hurtled down into the ocean near the fortress, where Circe reveals that Hercules has made her lose all her making her fall in love. [Please insert retching noises here] I want to know how that rope broke! It's not like the rock was accelerating. And even if the rope did break, why would they fall? Argh!

Smithee Award Winner! Worst Picture

The Fur Flies
A bear kills Herc's father. (His foster-father, that is, not Zeus.) In a blind rage, Hercules fights the [guy in a lame-looking] bear [suit], then throws the defeated bear into space where it becomes a constellation! To add dumbness to stupidity, they then superimpose a picture of the bear roaring. Argh! I'll never forget the ceremony we showed this -- we'd just presented the first of the two Worst Picture clips (see above), and the crowd started chanting "More! More!" They weren't disappointed. We gave them this. All right, maybe they were disappointed.

Actors/Directors of Note
Actor Claim to Fame
Lou Ferrigno Mostly-deaf bodybuilder who played TV's The Incredible Hulk 
Sybil Danning  
Ingrid Anderson  
William Berger  
Claudio Cassinelli Zeus in Hercules (the Lou Ferrigno film, not the TV show) 
Gianni Garko  
Giovanni Cianfriglia you may wonder how his career could have topped Super Stooges vs the Wonder Women ... wonder no more! 
Stelio Candelli  
Director Claim to Fame
Luigi Cozzi  

Bryan Cassidy

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