Hercules in New York

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Taina Elg, et al.
Director: Arthur Allan Seidelman
Edition Details:
Region 0, PAL



The incumbent governor of California's first movie wasn't Conan the Barbarian (1982) or The Terminator (1984). It wasn't even the 1976 documentary Pumping Iron as the more trivia-minded amongst you might think.

No, Arnold Schwarzenegger's first screen appearance was in fact in this 1970 movie - Hercules in New York. (Also known as Hercules Goes Bonkers or Hercules - the Movie.)

Don't lose any sleep over never having heard of it before. It is the type of movie that even someone with a career as chequered as Arnie's (Conan the Destroyer, Batman & Robin, anyone?) would prefer scratched from his CV.

OK, maybe technically it wasn't Arnie's first movie since he is credited in this movie as Arnold Strong. I suppose the Hollywood producers decided that Schwarzenegger was too much of a mouthful for American audiences. (And they probably have a point: I cut and paste his surname in this review instead of writing it out each time!)

Also, the producers decided that Arnie's trademark Germanic accent would be too much for U.S. audiences too. And here, I've got to admit they might also have a point: a lot of the time Arnie's dialogue - spoken in that Gestapo officer about to shove the Jewish ghetto victim into the waiting truck accent - was plain unintelligible. Most of the time one can't make out a word of what he is saying!

Thus, Arnie suffered the same indignity as Mel Gibson's Aussie drawl did when Mad Max was originally released in the States: he was dubbed with an American voice . . .

As you have gathered, Arnie's original spoken dialogue track was restored to this DVD release. Unfortunately this DVD doesn't feature the old dubbed soundtrack since I sincerely wanted to hear with what voice they dubbed Arnie's. (Apparently the Region 1 DVD boasts this audio track.)

Hercules in New York is, well, just that. Hercules (Schwarzenegger) grows bored with the thousands of years he had spent on Mount Olympus and wants to visit Earth for a change.

Can't say I blame him since the ambient noise in the ancient home of the gods is terrible - city traffic sounds can be heard in the background the whole time! So, in spite of Zeus's wishes, Hercules goes down to Earth where (a.) despite his Teutonic accent, everybody in the movie mistakes him for being Greek (b) he meets a wimpy sidekick whose glasses doesn't appear have any lenses and (c) he battles a guy in bear suit, I mean, a ferocious grizzly bear.

THE DISC: This is region-free DVD (as opposed to the Region 1 restricted disc, limited to only the States & Canada), so it'll play in any DVD player. Unfortunately it has only one audio track.

You'll hear Arnie say his dialogue for the first time, but I really wanted to hear the dubbed voices. The image is surprisingly good for a cheaply made and older movie like this. The sound is also clear, but you'll still struggle to figure out just what the heck Arnie is saying.

The movie is presented full screen and not in its original aspect ratio. However, unlike many pan ?n? scan efforts out there, it wasn't too obvious and bad.

The disc has a menu, scene access and a trailer (in the correct aspect ratio).

WORTH IT? How to judge a movie like Hercules in New York? I haven't laughed as much as during the fight scene with the grizzly bear since . . . I dunno . . . Monty Python and the Holy Grail, perhaps. However, none of the humour is intentional, rather stemming from the film-maker's sheer ineptitude. Hercules in New York is pure DIY MST3K.

RECOMMENDATION: Connoisseurs of bad movies will love Hercules in New York, but anyone else should stay away. It remains a bad bad bad movie.



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