Herodotus, perhaps the most renowned Greek historian, believed the Greek religion was mostly an Egyptian import. The Spartans, it’s believed, emigrated to Greece from Egypt. They introduced keynote numbers, including three, seven and 12 — all of which later appeared in prominent places within the Bible.
Here, we’re introduced to the strong men Hercules and Samson, who shared many traits, including a love for beautiful but dangerous women. But this goes much deeper, showing how the Israelite tribe of Dan extended its influence over the Vikings in the North and the Druids or ancient Celts found in the vicinity of Ireland. It’s the work of Robert Sepehr, author and anthropologist.
Hey kids (of all ages), it’s Saturday Morning Cartoon time again!
A few weeks ago I featured the YOUNG SENTINELS / SPACE SENTINELS, one of Filmation’s rare ventures not involving licensed properties. That show was a single season and mostly forgotten, but one of its characters was recycled the next year in the FREEDOM FORCE, which was broadcast in 1978 as part of the TARZAN AND THE SUPER 7 cartoon block. The oddly Nordic-looking version of the Greek demigod Hercules returned, now riding Pegasus, the winged horse.
Now, why Hercules, who possessed the ability to fly under his own power with the Sentinels, needed a winged horse here is a good question. But Pegasus has always been too popular an image to be confined to the lesser-known hero Bellerophon, his original rider. So he’s been associated with bigger stars like Perseus. (Who didn’t need a winged horse either, since he had the ability to fly thanks to talaria he wore.) Strange paring him with Herc though, as one of the strongman’s legendary labors involved killing Pegasus’ nephew!
Filling out the team were generic versions of public domain characters Merlin and Sindbad… Along with “Super Samurai”, who was sort of a less sci-fi version of ULTRAMAN, a Japanese guy who could transform into what appeared to be living, giant samurai armor.
Probably the biggest “star” of this little group was ISIS, an animated version of the super-heroine from Filmation’s 1975 live-action, Saturday Morning show, originally shared with SHAZAM. The animated Isis would pop into Filmation’s HERO HIGH a few years later… By which time the mere five episodes of Freedom Force would already be slipping into oblivion. More from the OldHorseman.
The Black Sun not only is a key symbol of Nazism, but also is involved in many forms of Satanism. Here, the Disgruntled Leaf Network introduces us to this sun wheel with its 12 radial sectors. We see its appearance in Nazi halls and legends, but also come to understand how it is linked to older figures from Egyptian and Greek mythology, including Osiris, Ra, Hermes and Hercules.
Samson, Hercules, and Gilgamesh were all archetypal representations. The Biblical account states that Samson was given immense strength to aid him against his enemies and allow him to perform superhuman feats, including slaying a lion with his bare hands and massacring an entire army using only the jawbone of a donkey. However, if Samson’s long hair were cut, then his sacred vow would be violated and he would lose his strength. What was the Secret of Samson’s Supernatural Strength? More from Robert Sepehr, anthropologist and author.
Today’s Trillion Dollar Movie is Hercules in the Haunted World, also sometimes known as Hercules in the Center of the Earth. This 1961 film, shot in Italy, is perhaps the most psychedelic Hercules movie ever made. That’s not surprising, considering it was directed by Mario Bava, Italy’s most accomplished horror filmmaker. Here, he places as much emphasis on sorcery as swordplay, mixing a healthy dosage of the macabre with the expected muscle-bound action.
Hercules’ mission: To journey to the underworld, Hades to be exact, to retrieve the Stone of Forgetfulness, so a curse can be lifted from the fair Princess Deianira. The diabolical sorcerer Lyco stands in Hercules’ way. He has placed the princess in a trance, so he could grab power and the throne. In a rarity for one of Bava’s low-budget features, he snared an A-list acting talent, Christopher Lee, to play the menacing villain. True, Lee’s voice is dubbed and he doesn’t get a lot of screen time, but when’s he on, he’s snarlingly good.
Otherwise, there are several exciting episodes associated with Hercules’ quest. He consults with oracles, battles a sadistic rock creature and braves hellish lakes of fire, as he descends deeper into Pluto’s lair. Reg Park, the British bodybuilder and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s closest mentor, plays the hero. Park only appeared in five movies, four times as Hercules. He’s no match for Steve Reeves, but he’s not entirely wooden, either.
In the end, what distinguishes this film are Bava’s haunting visuals. Besides directing, he also served as cinematographer and special effects maven, so the look of the picture is entirely his doing. Enjoy and do return again next Friday for another Trillion $ Movie.