Hercules Returns Review

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Using a thin narrative the film is more of an excuse for two comedians to perform their act that features them playing a science-fiction/horror B-movie and then improvising a new dialogue over the top of the original, often with hilarious consequences.


In the mid 80's, Australian comic duo Des Mangan and Sally Patience achieved cult status as Double Take, revoicing lousy B-movies al fresco before a live audience. From Sydney's art-houses to London's now-defunct Scala cinema their Double Take Meets The Astro Zombies had the cine-literate cognoscenti in stitches, but this attempt to capture the mayhem of their live show on film is remarkably patchy, lacking the gleeful wit and seat-of-the-pants energy of their in-person performances.

After a cursory modern set-up (picture-house proprietor Brad McBain has been sent an Italian print of a 1963 muscleman pic and has to overdub the dialogue live), Hercules Returns comprises footage from Giorgio Capitani's clomping cloak-and-sandal romp Samson And The Mighty Challenge, complete with mocking Australian voice-overs.

The gags hark back to the Barry MacKenzie school of Oz wit, with female characters called Labia (cue dialogue such as "Get your hands off my Labia"), men named Testiculi, and starring wrestlers voiced as "nancies" with an interest in interior decoration.

Like the Rocky Horror Show, all these low-rent gags would be fine if shouted from the auditorium. In the cold, recorded light of day, however, they smack horribly of a rugby knees-up party record. There are some nice touches, notably Hercules penchant for bursting into terrible song, but otherwise it's a sobering aftertaste of a joke best swallowed live and washed down with copious quantities of ale.

While their stand up performance was successful, it's shame that Mangan and Patience couldn't come up with a decent enough script for their own film after successfully changing so many others. The jokes are amusing but are probably best suited to a live spontaneous showing.