When Renny Harlin's Legend of Hercules comes out this Friday, January 10th, it's probably going to be terrible. It appears to have almost nothing to do with any of the original Greek myths; however, the son of Zeus has faced plenty of cinematic woes in the past (although none of them had the indecency to pretend Herc was a Roman gladiator). Here are eight other movies it would take a Herculean effort to sit through.
1) Hercules in New York
Displaying none of the charisma that would serve him later in his cinematic career and politics, Arbold Schwarzenegger's first movie role was Hercules in this stinker which sees Herc coming to 1970 New York City and becoming a professional wrestler. Zeus is annoyed at Herc's antics, and his wife Juno (yeah, Zeus and Juno, don't ask) poisons her stepson so he becomes mortal, Herc loses a strongman competition, runs afoul of some gangsters and Schwarzenegger basically takes any and all opportunity to take his shirt off and/or pick things up. Also, while driving his chariot around Central Park, Herc beats up a "wild bear" who is a dude in a cheap bear suit. It's amazing Schwarzenegger had a career in anything after this stinker.
2) Hercules Against the Moon Men
The Hercules of Hercules Against the Moon Men wasn't actually Hercules; in movie's native Italy, it starred Maciste, a popular but fictional sword-and-sandal-type hero. Actually, in the first Maciste movie, he was actually supposed to be Hercules anyways but — you know, it's weirdly complicated. Let's move on. Anyways, Herc/Maciste visits the kingdom of Samara, whose queen is treating with the local Moon Men, having started a children's blood for eventual-ruling-the-world barter system. This film is known in MST3K lore for its interminable sandstorm scene, when a variety of characters stumble through a sandstorm aimlessly for what feel like two solid hours. Herc basically stands around and flexes until the very end, when he eventually decides to bring the Moon Men's cave down on their heads.
3) Hercules Against the Mongols
Despite their similar popularity and immense strength (and name confusion), Hercules and Maciste were not duplicates. Maciste could basically go anywhere, live anytime, and do anything, while Hercules was pretty much stuck in ancient Greece (or at least theoretically so). But people outside of Italy knew Herc, not Maciste, so he was renamed — which is why we have this movie about Hercules somehow fighting the Mongols for the Christians in 1227 A.D. Yes, Hercules is hanging out in the woods, being a friend to the animals, when he learns those darned Mongols have been killing good Christian white people. Hercules' plan is basically to go up to them, and be enslaved until the end of the movie, when he decides not to be enslaved. The arrival of the Greek demigod inspires the nearby Christians, who fend off the Mongolian hordes.
Man, where to even start with this one? Okay, this 1983 Hercules movie starring Lou Ferrigno plays fast and loose with mythology, and when I say "fast and loose" I mean "Zeus and the Greek pantheon are actually aliens who live on the moon." Zeus grants the baby prince Hercules magic powers, but then the evil king Minos sends a variety of stop-motion robots to kill Herc and his family. The rest of the movie is basically a bunch of shitty special effects and weirdness, including a scene where Ferrigno jumps over moving chariots who are never in the same shot, a scene where he gets giant for no particular reason and a another scene where he basically uses a lightsaber.But the worst problem? Well, let's just say there's a reason why the only line Ferrigno had on The Incredible Hulk was "Rahrgh."
5) The Adventures of Hercules
And as ridiculous as Ferrigno's first Hercules movie was, it was a somber documentary compared to the sequel. Seven alien/gods on the moon steal Zeus' thunderbolts and hidden them in monsters, which somehowalso means the Moon is going to crash into Earth. Herc must kill the monsters to retrieve the thunderbolts, including slime people, Medusa, a demon knight, and more (he also kills the queen of the Amazons, but that's kind of a freebie). The movie ends, as all Hercules movies should not, with Hercules pulling a Dragonball Z and turning into a giant ape to fight the resurrected King Minos, who of course becomes a giant dinosaur. Eventually, Hercules grows big enough to physically push the moon away, and Herc and his lady friend get to live on the moon in peace.
6) Hercules and the Captive Women
Another Hercules movie feature on MST3K, this stinker stars Reg Park, who somehow doesn't acts while simultaneously like an asshole. When the King of Thebes needs Herc's help, Hercules refuses. When he's tricked onto a boat, he sleeps. When he's shipwrecked and lands on Atlantis and learns that the king's beautiful daughter Ismene must be sacrificed or the whole country will be destroyed, he rescues her and effectively kills pretty much everyone else on the island. Nice work, Jerkules! Oh, and there's a magic stone from Uranus that the Queen is using to make an army of Rockys from Rocky Horror Picture Show, but they don't really figure in.
7) Little Hercules in 3-D
You may or may not recall the name Richard Sandrak. Do you remember that super-ripped 8-year-old that made all the talk shows back around 2005? That's Sandrak. And like Schwarzenegger before him, someone thought that being able to lift three times his own body weight was enough to let this child star in a movie. With such talent, this person was then forced to cast him amongst such luminaries as Hulk Hogan, Robin Givens, and Judd Nelson. I'll let the trailer speak for itself.
8) The Three Stooges Meet Hercules
The highest-grossing of all the Three Stooges movies, and arguably their best, T3SMH (as its fans abbreviate it [probably]) still features a super-shitty Hercules. Hercules is basically a thug for the bad guy, King Odius, and he's barely in the film. Hell, the stooges' nerdy pal Schulyer pretends to be Hercules for a while, and he's a better Hercules than Hercules is. This is why in the trailer Hercules is trying to punch the Stooges, because he's mad someone's been impersonating him. Or maybe he's just trying to punch them because they're the Stooges. Either way, really.