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When Brad quits his job at a large cinema chain, to open his own picture theatre, his ex-boss sabotages the opening night by switching the Italian film with a non-subtitled version. Brad and his team hilariously improvise the dialogue to avert disaster.Written by
The external shots used for the theatre are of the long standing Palais Theatre located in St. Kilda, whilst the internal shots are of the Astor Theatre, an art-deco theatre renowned for showing double features of older movies. See more »
What would I want with a beautiful young thing when I've got you, eh?
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Location: Melbourne Australia, and Somewhere in Spain in 1963 See more »
Salacious and dopey very addictive. 9.5 out of 10.
Hercules Returns (1993) is a proud pi**take of 1960s Italian-produced Hercules movies. Just as there were spaghetti westerns, there were also spaghetti Hercules movies around that time. Hercules Returns slays its audience not by mere spoofing, but by redubbing and reinterpreting the actual B-grade footage and plot into something far more dopey and salacious.
For those who are interested, this flick a feature film version of the Double Take stage productions in Melbourne. This movie version is performed by Australian comedy festival host Effie', Mary Coustas (here playing feisty Lisa), David Argue (as Brad McBain), and Bruce Spence (as Sprocket). Yes, Bruce Spence is the guy from Mad Max 1 & 3.
The plausible excuse for the plot of Hercules Returns is the attempt by this same trio of entrepreneurs to resurrect a movie house. They've selected for their opening night a rescreening of the very last movie to be shown there: Hercules aka in English as Samson and the Mighty Challenge (1964). Unfortunately the new theater has some instant enemies who have sabotaged things by replacing the dubbed classic with its Italian version.
Fortunately the hosts discover this "in time" and so they rush into the projection room to do the "dubbing" * live *, complete with foley, falsetto voices, and an amazing foreknowledge of the plot. Well, we're not really supposed to buy all that, so don't nobody complain; it's all just an excuse for allowing the Double Take team to do their thang. And quite a talented thang it is: their timing, as well as their complete reinvention of an alternate plot that * fits the existing footage exactly * is no mean feat.
The farcical screenplay often uses cynical hindsight as proper nouns. For instance, when Hercules (still played by the original 1960s Alan Steel) is hoeing into a chicken drumstick, his new lines have him musing about another place where he'd eaten great food: "Oh yeah, Botulinia, that was it". So Hercules is now "revealed" as a dopey and talentless cabaret singer wannabe, who moves in on the town of Climidia (a play on "chlamydia") which apparently needs a new act. The showbiz couple who run the town are contemplating "that new singer from Crete, you know, Kylie Minogus", but immediately reject her because "she's only popular with Cretans" (cretins). Instead, they "discover" Hercules, the son-of-a-god, as a possible husband for their daughter Labia.
They need some pretext to stop her marrying her true love Testiculi so they invent Hercules' arrival as an edict of the gods. Unfortunately Labia, Herc's wilier and less chaste betrothed, has other ideas about that. "Get real, mum, I'm not marrying someone with bigger tits than me", she scoffs.
Labia's mother, Muriel, is not very chaste either. She invites Herc up to her room "for a surprise" in the presence of her own husband, Ted, who looks like a cagey "Benny Hill Show reject". Herc demurs that he "doesn't like to plan that sort of thing", so Muriel offers to sneak up on Herc from behind. Without skipping a beat, her husband interjects: "Nah. Besides, who likes old age creeping up on them?". Ted does have some of the funniest lines based on the original actor's performance, who for some reason gave an all-too-knowing performance back in 1964.
It is just so much fun to have the not-very-well-hidden homosexual overtones of the 1960s Hercules movies obviated like this. During the course of Herc's stay in Climidia, a medium reveals that the real reason Zeus sent him there was to openly reveal to the world Herc's true homosexual tendencies. Hercules is completely incredulous. "You mean I'm a visitor from Vegemite Valley? Hoho, come on ..." Not to be deterred, the "medium" rules that Herc's perfect partner is Samson, whom he must fight, to prove himself one way or another. If he wins, he can marry Labia, but if Herc loses, he "must marry Samson".
All the original characters are mercilessly pilloried using the existing footage. Samson's overdubbed lines are particularly hilarious and pathetic. As he contemplates the upcoming championship fight with Hercules, Samson muses "If I lose, my reputation is buggered ... But if I win, I have to marry Hercules and then I'm buggered again ...". His scenes with Delilah are some of the most tear-inducing: "Delilah! Where are you? You're hiding in that bloody little box again, aren't ya?" (due to the original actor's inexplicable checking a tiny box when he's supposed to be looking for her). But his girlfriend Delilah is "a bit of a bruiser" who doesn't mince words. She doesn't want Samson fighting any more after one of his opponents was killed. "It's a bit unfair bringing that up you stabbed him", retorts Samson. She's still smarting as she accuses him of wanting to carouse for chicks in his chariot. He tries to "butter her up" with "What would I want with a beautiful young thing when I've got you, eh?". "Suave buggger", concedes Delilah.
But my very favourite scene is with the chickens on Samson's farm as they run across the screen. I actually remember watching the original on a rerun one school afternoon, and thinking that the last chicken was a little slow. Well, I should have known that someone else would notice the same thing: all the chickens got some internal narrative lines in this: "Cluck, cluck, cluck, ah, *uck this for a joke", but the last one got "oh, I missed me cue".
Some of the language is rather "Strine" (unsophisticated Australian vernacular), but that's just leverage against some unlikable characters.
The end credits are notable for the Hercules Rap, performed by Des Mangan, the unseen real talent behind the whole Double Take show. The song refers to itself as "rap with a capital C", but how can that be when Herc raps verses like "I'm a bachelor again, but at least I'm not cryin'. If I don't get the girl, I can always pump iron."
Very funny and addictively quotable. 9.5 out of 10.
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