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DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: HONOR AMONG THIEVES






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Hercules in the Haunted World

original title: Ercole al centro della terra

Comparison:

  • US Version
  • Italian Version
Release: Mar 08, 2022 - Author: brainbug1602 - Translator: Mike Lowrey - external link: IMDB

Heracles returns to Icalia with his friend Theseus to marry the princess Deianira, but Deianira has changed a lot. Lico, her guardian and uncle, thinks that a shadow has settled around her spirit. After questioning the oracle Medea, Heracles learns that a magical stone hidden deep in Hades can help her. Together with Theseus and Telemachus, Heracles conquers the horrors of the underworld and comes into possession of the stone. Back in Icalia, however, Heracles finds out that Lico is responsible for the disaster. Lico has made a pact with the powers of darkness and plans to make Deianira his wife, so that he can become the new king. Now, Heracles has to deal with an extremely powerful enemy who is able to bring the dead back to life.

In Hercules in the Haunted World, the muscle-bound Reg Park, who embodies the role of Hercules for the second time after Hercules and the Captive Women, has to deal with vampires, undead and rather cuddly stone monsters. Thanks to Mario Bava in the director's chair, the pepulum is so full of harmonious staging, great sets and special effects and gaudy colours that you almost forget that you are dealing with a trivial film. Not always quite rounded, but surely one of the better Heracles/Hercules movies.

In the US, Kino Lorber released a set with two Blu-rays containing three different versions, which shed some light on the confusion of edits. On the one hand, the Italian original version of the film is included. This is the longest cut of the film, which begins with a monologue by Lico in his crypt, who deals about his alliance with the powers of evil. Apparently, Kino Lorber had access to the same master that Koch Media used for the German Blu-ray release, as both the opening credits and the end credits are in German. For the UK version, which is rather the international version of the movie, we have a separate comparison you can read here.

More interesting now is the US version of the film. For a release in the US, the film was modified in some points by the former distributor Woolner Brothers. The opening credits have been revised so that now the oracle Medea gives an introduction, while the monologue by Lico was removed. To achieve this, scenes of Medea, which can be seen again later, were inserted while other material was removed. Also new in the US version are animated opening credits. Besides smaller adaptations, like slightly shortened scene transitions, there is another major change. After Heracles' escape from the underworld, the US version shows Medea again, who summarizes the events. At this point, some foolishness with Telemachus on the ship was removed and the next scene, in which Heracles meets the suffering population, begins a little later. By extending the role of Medea, who acts as the narrator, the film was simplified so that even the US audience can follow the plot without any problems. Except for the redesigned opening credits, there is no new footage, rather existing scenes were reused.

The big advantage of the US Blu-ray is that you have the possibility to see the US version of the movie in good picture quality, otherwise the Italian version is preferable.

Runtimes:

UK/International version: 81:31 min.
Italian version: 85:53 min.
US version: 84:10 min.

The US version was compared to the Italian version. Both are included on the US Blu-ray by Kino Lorber.

The US version basically has redesigned opening credits. In the Italian version, Lico begins with a dark monologue about the powers of evil. In the US version, the oracle Medea gives an introduction about how a kingdom is threatened by the vampire Lico and only Hercules can defeat him. The introductory text of the respective version follows.

US version:

Medea: "This is Ecalia, a kingdom city of ancient Greece in an age of myth and legend. It is a time when Olypian gods and demigods rule over the elements of nature and control the destinies of men. I am Medea, official oracle of the immortal gods, sorceress of Ecalia. It is I who will tell of what has happened in this kingdom. It is I who will foretell what shall come to pass. Many years ago, the gods were offended by King of Ecalia. A curse was cast over the land and terrible forces of evil were brought down upon the people. This curse was ordained to remain until the last descendants of the king had entered the haunted realm of the dead. And now, there is one in this kingdom who has joined forces with the gods of evil, the fiendish Lico, a diabolical vampire. He would become ruler of Ecalia at any price. And there is another who can save the kingdom from this fate. Only he has the strength and courage to challenge the gods for he is more than a simple man. He is the son of Zeus, God of the Heavens. He is Hercules."

Italian version:

Lico: "The time shall come when day shall turn to night and night shall rule our lives. Their cries shall sound like music. The wailing and screaming we hear now shall be songs that soothe us. The time shall come when the moon, devoured by the Great Dragon, shall bring eternal darkness. I shall be the master of darkness and of light. When the sun ravages the Earth, and the rivers run dry, and every mortal soul freezes in death, then evil shall triumph, the absolute master, that shall dominate the Earth.

[00:00:04][00:00:05]

The US shows the temple.



US: 5 sec.


[00:00:33][00:00:30]

The US version cuts to the oracle of the Gods, Medea. She will tell what happened and what will happen. Terrible forces of evil were brought to earth by a curse.



In the Italian version, the camera moves further up the woman to Lico.

Lico: "The time shall come when day shall turn to night and night shall rule our lives."



US: 27 sec.
IT: 14 sec.


[00:01:08][00:00:51]

The US cuts to Medea once again.



Instead, the Italian version shows Lico again.



One of the stone coffins is closing.



US: 2 sec.
IT: 44 sec.


[00:01:12][00:01:38]

In the Italian version, you can see the coffin closing for a longer time. This is followed by a cut to Lico, then another shot of the stone coffin.



IT: 13 sec.


[00:01:15][00:01:54]

In the US version, Lico can now be seen. Medea says that he is a vampire and only Hercules can defeat him.



The US opening credits follow.



In the Italian version, the coffin closes and the German opening credits follow.



US: 2:13 min.
IT: 3:15 min.


[00:07:44][00:09:25]

The US version fades out as Hercules runs to the horse.



No time difference.


[00:22:24][00:24:05]

The US version fades over as Sunis "plays" with Telemachus.



US: 1 sec.
IT: 2 sec.


[00:24:56][00:26:38]

The US version fades from the sea to the evening sun.



US: 2 sec.
IT: 4 sec.


[00:25:04][00:26:48]

The Italian version fades from the evening sun to a shot of the ship.



IT: 5 sec.


[00:40:05][00:41:54]

The US fades from the burning deception of the underworld to Hercules and Theseus.



US: 1 sec.
IT: 3 sec.


[00:52:08][00:53:59]

The US version fades from Telemachus to the ship.



US: 2 sec.
IT: 4 sec.


[00:54:23][00:56:17]

After the escape from the underworld, the US version again shows the oracle Medea, which summarizes the events once again.

Medea: "And so it came to pass. Courageous Hercules captured the Stone of Life fro the Kingdom of the Dead, and with the aid of the Golden Apple of the Hesperides, he and his friends passed safely through the Gates of Hades. But new perils await Hercules on his return to Ecalia. The great Olympian God Pluto has been offended and out of revenge, has thrust the forces of evil upon the land.



In the Italian version, the scene on the ship goes even further. Telemachus is caught in the ropes and asks Hercules for help.

Telemachus: "Ah! I wanted to haul up the sail, and it haled me! Help! Hercules! Hercules! Help me! Help! Hercules!



Afterwards, Hercules meets the suffering people. He talks to a family.

Hercules: "Hello, friends."
Man: "Hello, Hercules."
Hercules: "What happened?"
Man: "Someone offended the gods, and they abandoned us. The heavenly fires have come upon us and dried our rivers and burned our fields."
Woman: "My daughter is dead!"
Man: "Our fields are destroyed."



After that, we see the temple a little earlier.



US: 30 sec.
IT: 51 sec.


[01:01:51][01:04:06]

The US version fades from Lico to Hercules.



US: 1 sec.
IT: 2 sec.


[01:01:54][01:04:10]

A fade from Hercules to the oracle.



US: 1 sec.
IT: 4 sec.


[01:21:18][01:23:38]

The US version fades from Hercules to the baton.



US: 2 sec.
IT: 3 sec.


[01:23:10][01:25:31]

Alternative end fade-in. The US version has credits while the Italian version only shows a black screen.



US: 1:00 min.
IT: 22 sec.