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Summer of Schwarzenegger - "Hercules in New York" (1969)


Ladies and gentlemen, one film into this little personal challenge of mine, and I already don't want to continue. I've seen some terrible things in my time. I've lived through a great deal of hardship and strife. Seen my fair share of struggles. To be quite honest, I'm surprised I've made it this far. Yet nothing could prepare me for what might be the biggest exercise in futility ever put to film. A Lovecraftian horror of misguided comedy that can't ever decide what it wants to be, and in the end, decides to be nothing, like an amorphous blob of nothingness that has no significance other than to bring severe mental pain to anybody who dares look at it long enough. I'm referring to Hercules in New York, Arnold's first film, and one that he once said should be shown to terrorists in order to torture them. 

Yep, this is going to be a fun time, kids. Welcome to the Summer of Schwarzenegger, and hold on to your butts.


What's It About?

So, basically, Hercules is a bumbling strongman who lives on Olympus, but want to visit Earth. Unlike the royal asshole Greek mythology makes him out to be, this incarnation is a good-natured oaf who laughs at everything, yet has no qualms about knocking down men with wooden planks or fist-fighting a fucking grizzly bear. Hercules is sick of Olympus, and wants to visit Earth, but Zeus thinks that's bullshit and just wants him to stay at home, because the people of Earth no longer believe in the gods, or they'll be scared of him, or... or something. The reason's never totally clear. Anyway. Hercules goes, meets a cute girl, befriends a pretzel salesman who looks like he belongs on a list of registered sex offenders, and gets in a bunch of fish-out-of-water hijinks. Zeus' step-mother, Juno, wants him to stay on Earth, but still hates the kid enough to send people to poison him and make him lose a bodybuilding competition. There's also some dumb slapstick and a romantic sub-plot, but because the filmmakers didn't seem to give a fuck about this movie, I'm not going to waste any effort giving a fuck about all of this.

Is It Good?

No. Dear lord no. Honestly, this is enough to make me not watch another movie for a very, very long time, and enough to make me want to give up on this whole plan of watching every Arnold movie. Everything about this movie is fucking bad. No, literally, I mean everything. Every fucking part of this movie is the literal worst. The acting, if you could even call it that, is awful. This was before Arnold was a serious actor, and before he had a clear grasp on the English language, making almost everything he says virtually impossible to understand. I mean, in the original showings, he had his lines dubbed because of how thick his accents is, and even in the recent versions that remove most of the dubbing, some of it remains because it would be impossible to understand what the hell he was saying otherwise. It doesn't help that he has the same dumb look on his face throughout the entire film.

"If you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes into you." - Nietzsche 
But it would be unfair to say Arnold is the only bad thing about this movie. The music is awful and essentially consists of one track of Italian string music that is wildly inappropriate at several points throughout the film. Whoever wrote this movie is probably some sort of sociopath, attempting humor like a performance but unable to grasp what real humor is, much like the cinematic shit-stain that is Transylvania 6-5000. Everybody's acting is awful, with the half-exception of Arnold Stang, who was a very funny comedian, but is given an absolutely garbage script to work with here. From top to bottom, this is a terrible movie, produced terribly, acted terribly, and just... just... look, it's bad, okay? It's awful, it's garbage, it's an embarrassment to all involved. Whoever owns the rights to this film, which were auctioned off almost a decade ago, should round up every copy they have and burn them in a mass bonfire. DVDs, VHS tapes, film reels... all of it. This shouldn't be an easy movie to obtain, because it will make your brain cells commit suicide.

Is It Entertaining?

Not in the fucking least. Look, there are movies that are so bad, they're good. Then there are movies that are utterly forgettable. Then there's stuff like this, which will forever be a standard for bad film for me. There's no joy to be derived from watching this movie other than knowing that you will, most likely, never see a film this bad for a very, very long time. Other than that, just be prepared for raw suffering distilled onto film. Like the tape from Ringu, but more awkward. And more likely to kill you.

"You ave seven days until ah'll be bahk."
Is It Worth Watching?

If you're the type who engages in BDSM or some form of sadism, or like to flog yourself that nutso guy from The Da Vinci Code, then Hercules in New York is for you. It's pure torture, no matter which way you slice it, and will probably give you nightmares until old age. I mean, unless it shaves years off your lifespan due it most likely being some satanic tool meant to harvest souls and murder whole populaces. Otherwise, stay away from this, even if you're a diehard fan of Arnold and his oeuvre. It will probably give you some sort of weird complex that will leave waking up in cold sweats years from now.

Memorable Arnold-Isms? 

There are none, because the script is terrible, and you can't understand what the fuck he's saying half the time. So, essentially, this movie is a disappointment on all fronts. Move along, people, nothing to see here other than shame and remorse of the entire cast.




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