The early '60s saw a plethora of sword-and-sandal adventure movies coming out of Italy, all featuring professional bodybuilders-turned-actors playing super-strong heroes out of the ancient Greek or Roman legends. Medusa Against the Son of Hercules, as this movie was generally released in the United States, was recut as part of a package for television and shown broken into five "episodes," presented nightly under the series title The Sons of Hercules. The movie is a retelling of the legend of Perseus and the Medusa, in which the hero is defending the besieged kingdom of Seriphos. Its people are near starvation, under siege by the army of Argus on one side, a huge dragon on another side, and the hideous Medusa on another. The king is about to give his daughter, Andromeda (Anna Ranalli), to the evil Galinor, king of Argus, as a bride for his son, in order to open up a route for trade. Perseus (Richard Harrison), the son of the murdered king of Argus, vows to avenge his father's death, stop the usurper Galinor's subjugation of Seriphos, and free both kingdoms. To do this, he must slay the dragon and then destroy the Medusa, which will restore her victims -- Seriphos' best soldiers -- who have been transformed into stone in her valley, to flesh-and-blood, so that they can defeat the army of Argus. First, however, he must defeat the evil son of Galinor in a tournament and win the trust of Andromeda's father. The action is a little clunky and the music too repetitive by half, and the dragon looks like a nasty version of Cecil the Sea Serpent from Beany & Cecil, but the Medusa, created by Carlo Rambaldi (who subsequently worked on E.T.), is an inspired vision, a giant hydra-like creature with tentacles for legs and an evil, glowing eye at its center. The scenes in the fog-shrouded valley where it claims its victims are particularly eerie. The presence of Perseus' mother as a half-mad queen also adds to the sense of verisimilitude with the ancient Greek origins of the story.
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