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Australia 1993
Directed by
David Parker
80 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Hercules Returns

David Parker's film is adapted from the work of real-life comedy team, Double Take, who took old D grade movies and re-dubbed the dialogue live while the film was screening at the Valhalla Cinema (now The Westgarth) in Melbourne’s inner-city suburb of Northcote. 

Hercules Returns takes a 1963 Italian sword and sandal cheapie, called "Hercules, Samson, Maciste and Ursus Are Invincible" and mercilessly travesties what is already a laughably awful effort.  Producer Philip Jaraslow and Double Take mastermind Des Mangan developed a framing story about a naive young would-be film exhibitor McBain (David Argue) who decides to open his own cinema only to find on opening night that the film “Hercules Returns” is in Italian.  Enlisting his projectionist, Sprocket (Bruce Spence), and publicist, Lisa (Mary Coustas), McBain decides to re-voice the entire film live. And so enter the Double Take team, largely Mangan and Sally Patience with some help from Matthews King as Charlie. 

Although the film periodically cuts to the actors in the projection booth, the bulk of it is what you would have got in a live performance (which itself was closely scripted with the performers doing the sounds effects as well as the voices, no mean feat)

The result, as good a record of the real thing as we’re ever going to get, is a barrel of laughs, the already ludicrously bad film being ridiculed with gusto in the Australian vernacular style – the Strine delivery, particularly of Ms. Patience, is as important to the effect as what is said which is persistently crass and gleefully vulgar.  Woody Allen did a similar thing with What’s Up Tiger Lily? In 1966, but this film is a much funnier effort and is deservedly one of Australian few cult comedies.




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