Full Moon Features: The Adventures of Hercules (1985)

[Note: Inspired by Dobes’s comprehensive list of Werewolves of the 80s and its attendant screencaps repository, I’m covering movies I previously passed over because they don’t feature werewolves, per se. As long as they have wolfish enough beast men, though, I’m considering them fair game…]

In the mid-’80s, erstwhile Incredible Hulk Lou Ferrigno starred in a pair of Hercules pictures for Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus’s Cannon Films, because what other role was he cut out for with that physique after Arnold Schwarzenegger scooped up Conan for himself? (Coincidentally, Arnie made his screen debut in the justifiably obscure Hercules in New York in 1970, so if Golan and/or Globus approached him about headlining their Hercules franchise, he had every reason to turn them down.) Both written and directed by Luigi Cozzi (using his Anglicized pseudonym “Lewis Coates”), 1983’s Hercules and 1985’s The Adventures of Hercules are decidedly cheap-looking affairs, in spite of the fact that $6 million was allegedly spent on the former. (The budget for the sequel is unknown, but there’s no way it was more than a fraction of that.) Taking inspiration from the likes of Flash Gordon and Clash of the Titans, Cozzi’s Hercules has plenty of flashy costumes and stop-motion monsters to go around. The same cannot be said for The Adventures of Hercules, but that’s the one where the musclebound demigod fights a wolf creature, so it is the one I’m writing about.

In tandem with its Superman II ripoff credits, The Adventures opens with eight minutes of reminders of the first film’s chintzy special effects. (If you’ve even seen the clip of Hercules fighting a bear and tossing it into space, that’s where it comes from.) The plot then kicks into gear with the theft of Zeus’s seven mighty thunderbolts by four rebel gods who hide them in the bellies of seven monsters. To retrieve them, Hercules has to defeat each one, so it’s convenient that immediately upon being sent down to Earth by his father, the demigod is set upon by a wolf-man who’s big on leaping and hopping and can be readily dispatched by being stabbed in the chest with a tree branch. When the creature dissolves away, it is revealed that it was the hiding place for one of the thunderbolts, meaning Hercules has six more to go before the whole shebang is tied up 70 minutes later. (That’s one of the benefits of a small budget: a short running time.)

The defeated wolf-man in repose.

In addition to Ferrigno, the other returning cast members from Hercules are Claudio Cassinelli as Zeus, Eva Robin’s as Dedalos (a bastardization of Daedalus, who built the labyrinth for King Minos in Greek mythology, but mostly just stands around mocking his efforts in these movies), and William Berger as King Minos, who was killed by Hercules at the end of the first film, but the renegade gods resurrect him by luring a warrior to his crypt, slaying the unfortunate man, and hanging him by heels over Minos’s coffin so his blood can be spilled on the skeletal remains inside. Once he’s back among the living, Minos wastes no time extolling the virtues of science over magic (sample line: “With this sword, science will triumph!”), and being totally ungrateful about being brought back to life. “Science and chaos have given me the power to eliminate you all!” he cries, and indeed, gods soon start getting zapped out of existence willy-nilly, much like they are at the end of Clash of the Titans.

Meanwhile, Hercules goes from mythological monster to mythological monster, slaying them and collecting the thunderbolts they possess until he has enough to challenge Minos, with their final confrontation taking the form of an animated fight between a dinosaur (Minos) and a gorilla (Herc). There’s also a ticking clock of sorts since the Moon is on a collision course with Earth, which Hercules is able to prevent at the last minute, just like at the end of Flash Gordon. Now if only Flash had fought a wolf-man…