Are Greek gods just automatically camptastic? The Immortals looks like it will push mythological glitter to its absolute limits — but there's been a long history of insanely goofy movies about Hercules, Zeus, Perseus and other Hellenistic bruisers.
Something about taking the already-ludicrous "sword and sandal" genre and adding shouty gods to the mix just lends itself to extreme inappropriateness. Here are the 10 most god-awful Greek god movies... so far.
10. Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief
Who plays Zeus: Sean Bean. Yes, Boromir/Ned Stark himself! He has some amazingly dramatic scenes with Steve Coogan (Hades) and Kevin McKidd (Poseidon).
Why it's ridiculous: Oh man, where do we start? This is the ultimate ludicrous teen wish-fulfillment movie, in which the Hero's Journey is reduced to its most wanktacular basics. Percy discovers he's actually kinda-sorta Perseus, and his dyslexia is because he can really read Greek or something. The campiness includes Uma Thurman as Medusa and Pierce Brosnan as a sassy centaur. Oh, and as this poster at FreakAngels points out, it contains the great line of dialogue, "Your omnipotence has blinded you!"
9. Cyclops (TV movie)
Who plays Zeus: Nobody, unfortunately. But Eric Roberts plays the Roman emperor Tiberius, so that kind of makes up for it.
Why it's ridiculous: We had to include this movie, despite the lack of Greek gods, because it's so amazingly bonkers — the trailer basically gives away the entire plot, so you can see for yourself. There's an ancient Cyclops, who has been terrorizing the countryside — until the Romans capture it and put it in their gladiatorial arena to kill Christians or something. Which turns out to be a bad idea — because the Cyclops brings about the Fall of Rome! It's alternate history and mythology rolled together. The CG is amazingly bad, and the fake blood is just insane. Plus the Cyclops goes around making Homer Simpson noises.
8. Jason and the Argonauts (TV movie)
Who plays Zeus: Angus Macfayden
Why it's ridiculous: This $30 million production is pretty lavish for a three-hour TV movie/miniseries. But it's also a dreadful mixture of bland and insane, in spite of a pretty impressive cast. (Natasha Henstridge is in it!) Just check out this amazing scene in which Zeus tries to seduce Medea (Jolene Blalock!) When Medea says she "loves another," Zeus reaches for her chest and makes her breasts glow sort of orangey for a moment, then he pulls something glowy out of her and eats it, before getting all "lie with me." Truly a godlike performance. The TVTropes page for this movie (and the 1963 version) include loads of insane stuff that happens, like Jolene Blalock reveals that she has special healing powers right when one key character is injured — even though she hasn't healed anybody else the entire film. Oh, and there's a fire-breathing robot bull!
7. You're So Cupid
Who plays Zeus: Nobody, unfortunately.
Why it's ridiculous: Just watch the trailer. Two girls are natural matchmakers — and it turns out they're the daughters of Cupid, the God of Love! Awesome!! They have special Cupid powers. But then they like the same guy, and disaster ensues.
6. Hercules in New York
Who plays Zeus: Ernest Graves.
Why it's ridiculous: Where to begin? Perhaps with Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had no acting experience whatsoever prior to playing Hercules in this film. In most prints of of the movie, Schwarzenegger's voice is overdubbed with a weird nasal squeak. There's also the ludicrous "demigod out of water" storyline where Herc goes to modern-day New York and says things like, "Hercules has no need of money!" and "Bucks? Doe? What is all this zoological talk about male and female animals?" When Hercules first wants to visit the mortal world, Zeus tells him, "These mortals are bedeviled by as aggravating a collection of annoyances as it is possible for one to imagine."
5. Clash of the Titans 2010
Who plays Zeus: Liam Neeson! With totally awesome hair!
Why it's ridiculous: This movie put the "crack" into "kraken." Liam Neeson's Zeus wants to murder all the citizens of Argos so that they'll worship him, and Perseus (Sam Worthington!) has to stop him. Mostly, there's a really simplistic quest narrative, in which Perseus has to try and kill the Kraken. Plus you have to love the totally fake video game-y special effects and ludicrous 3-D post-conversion. It's basically a Syfy original movie with A-list stars and pretensions of blockbuster-hood.
4. Hercules (1983)
Who plays Zeus: Claudio Cassinelli
Why it's ridiculous: This film and its 1985 sequel, Adventures of Hercules, feature Lou Ferrigno — the Hulk himself — as the Prince of Power. We've written about both films before, and they really have to be seen to be believed. In the first movie, Hercules travels to other planets by tying a rock to a chariot and throwing himself into space. And in the second movie, he actually avoids a interplanetary collision between the Earth and the Moon by growing to giant size and pushing the Moon away with his bare hands. (See clip, featuring some great Zeus declaiming.) He also fights centaurs who shoot laser bows. Oh, and did I mention the mecha-bumblebees?
3. Little Hercules in 3-D
Who plays Zeus: Hulk Hogan. Seriously. Hulk Freaking Hogan. Also, Elliot Gould plays Socrates, for some reason. (Why is Socrates in Olympus? Just run with it.)
Why it's ridiculous: This is one of the greatest things ever. Hercules comes to Earth, just like in Hercules in New York — but this time, he's a little kid! And just like in the Schwarzenegger movie, they had to overdub the kid's voice because his foreign accent was incomprehensible. But this time around, Hercules has a cool African American friend who teaches him to say "wassup baby." And for some reason the school dance features Brooke Hogan, Hulk's daughter, dirty dancing on stage to music that's almost inaudible. Seriously, the school dance scene must be seen to be believed. Oh, and when Zeus wants to contact Hercules, he speaks through the toilet.
2. Goddess of Love (TV movie)
Who plays Zeus: John Rhys-Davies!
Why it's ridiculous: Okay, where do we start. Vanna White — yes, the Wheel of Fortune lady — plays Venus, the eponymous Goddess of Love. Because she's unfaithful to her husband Hephaestus, Zeus decides that she knows nothing about real love, and thus he turns her into a statue. There she remains until the guy from American Werewolf in London puts his engagement ring on her finger as a joke, and she comes to life. A statue fetishist has put seven clips from the movie on Youtube, and you owe it to yourself to watch them all. Even after White is turned from a statue into a human, she remains utterly stony as she says lines like, "I shall invoke a speedy and terrible destruction." I love David Naughton trying to explain to his bride that "I accidentally put the ring on a statue of Venus, and this just sorta happened."
Who plays Zeus: Wilfrid Hyde-White, although he says "We don't use those names anymore."
Why it's ridiculous: Oh man. Where do we start? This guy is painting giant album covers on the sides of buildings and stuff, but he's a real artist and chafes at the restraints of commerce and crass materialism and stuff. And somehow, meanwhile, a bunch of Greek Muses come to life, including Olivia Newton-John, and they do what Muses do — roller skate to ELO. Somehow this turns into the Muse and the album cover guy teaming up with Gene Kelly to open a nightclub where everybody dances simultaneously to 1940s jazz and bad hair metal. But then Olivia Newton John has to go back to Olympus, because they all need skating lessons up there. This movie is such a classic, it spawned a Broadway musical.