krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
I've made it to the last of the "Hercules" movies featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 that I still had to rewatch and comment on. While I've seen them promoted as "very watchable," at least in the relaxed content of the show's canon, I do wonder if they've ever quite appealed to me as much as they seem to others. Starting into "Hercules and the Captive Women," I might have been most interested in a sort of casual experiment involving the show's structure itself...

As things start off, Gypsy is beseeching Joel to let her join in the fun in the theatre, and despite the skepticism of Tom Servo Joel agrees. As the movie gets under way I did sort of get a sense that beyond the personality developed for Gypsy transitioning from "almost inarticulate mascot" to "devoted behind-the-scenes worker," she was also kept out of the "shadowramma" scenes because of how large her puppet is. After hanging around for some "good-natured brawling" on screen, the introduction of a Hercules played by the third actor so far (who Crow complains about being unimpressive right off the bat), and some complicated setup the "riffing" isn't quite responding to (beyond Hercules smashing up a throne), Gypsy says "this movie's really not good" and excuses herself. Then, all of a sudden the characters are on a ship with a drugged Hercules shanghaied along and somebody having to hide from him under decks. (It took me until close to the end of the movie to realise that character was Hercules's son, and that following a "host segment" where Crow makes up lots of unflattering details about that very son.) Some time after that, everyone is shipwrecked, and Hercules (who's spent a lot of time sleeping) drifts ashore to an island where at least one woman with big 1960s hair is "captive," embedded in some rocks by the shape-shifting Proteus. ("Protein? He's pure protein?") Hercules defeats Proteus and frees the young woman, who happens to be from Atlantis. ("Atlantis? That's where the Superstation comes from!") It turns out she had been intended to be sacrificed by her mother the queen (the various ornaments in her own beehive hairdo, including something that looks like a second set of eyes, don't get "riffed" on), and she's sent off to be sacrificed again. ("And if you don't die willingly I'm going to ground you, young lady!") In the meantime, we've learned the chosen god of Atlantis is Uranus, and this gets milked for "riffs" in pretty much the exact way you'd expect.

Hercules is romanced by the queen, but manages to keep from swallowing her drugged wine and lets himself out by bending some window bars and then bending them back on the other side. ("Oh man, this is his only bit.") He discovers and frees an unfortunate collection of leper-like people, the victims of a "magic rock" the evil queen is using to create perfect warriors; as Hercules's son rescues the young princess (with the aid of a midget) the lepers rush the palace only to be overwhelmed and wiped out by the warriors. ("Wow, this took a really dark turn all of a sudden.") Hercules discovers the perfect warriors are identical under their purple helmets to a creepy assistant to the queen already seen ("They're all photonegatives of Abe Lincoln!") and is put in a deathtrap with his son only to escape the descending ceiling and amnesia gas via another feat of strength. He then rides a chariot drawn by a massive team of horses through catacombs ("Oh, look! It's the first muscle car! Lots of horses under the hood."), sets the chariot on fire ("I hope his body grease isn't flammable!"), and sends it into the warriors. After that, he knocks a hole in the wall to send a shaft of sunlight down to the magic rock and joins in the escape of the young princess, his son, the midget, and another guy previously caught by the amnesia gas just as the rock gets hit by the sun; Atlantis is destroyed amid not just stock footage of volcanoes but also the sets tumbling down. ("Man, if this was in Sensurround it'd be so cool!" "Hercules will be back in Welcome Home, Roxy Hercules.")

An episode starting off with frequent "riffs" about just how confusing everything is might not seem that promising, but things did seem after a while to pick up on screen until I was outright surprised with how engaging it seemed. Things closed out with our heroes holding a mock funeral for the Hercules movies (with the aid of the inactive "action figure" they had made one host segment before), which does remind me of how they got hit with another one the next season, to say nothing of "Colossus and the Headhunters" in the season after that. Still, in itself it was fun.

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