Hercules (Steve Reeves) returns to the land of Attica and the city of Thebes with his bride Iole (Sylva Koscina). They take the young Ulysses (Gabriele Antonini) with them. They stop to rest outside of Thebes. In a cave they come upon Oedipus (Cesare Fantoni), the King of Thebes. With him is one of his sons, Polinices (Mimmo Palmara).
When Oedipus gave up his throne he decreed that his sons would take turns ruling. Eteocles (Sergio Fantoni) would rule for one year. At the end of the year Polinices would rule for a year. The first year is up, but Eteocles refuses to give up the throne to his brother. Oedipus believes that Polinices and Eteocles will end up destroying Thebes in their thirst for power. Hercules tells Oedipus and Polinices that he will go to Thebes and try to convince Eteocles to keep to the promise he made to his father. Polinices’ First Officer (Ugo Sasso) gives Hercules six days to convince Eteocles or his troops will march on Thebes.
When Hercules confronts Eteocles he agrees to keep the pact. Hercules and Ulysses head off to see Polinices to tell him while Iole stays in Thebes. They stop and make camp for the night. Ulysses goes out to hunt. Hercules drinks from a magic spring called the Waters of Forgetfulness. When Ulysses comes back he finds Hercules acting strange. Hercules passes out.
Suddenly there are soldiers all around. Ulysses pretends to be a deaf-mute. The soldiers take Hercules and Ulysses away to Queen Omphale (Sylvia Lopez) in Lidia. Ulysses is sent the the slaves quarters. When Hercules awakens he has no memory of who he is. Omphale tells him he is her husband. She keeps men until she is tired of them and then has them killed. But she still keeps them as souvenirs.
Ulysses figures out that if he can keep Hercules from drinking the water that is given to him from the magic spring, his memory will come back. While Hercules and Ulysses are stuck in Queen Omphale’s palace Iole is still in Thebes. With Hercules away so long Eteocles begins to think that Hercules has taken Polinices’ side in the dispute. Iole’s life is now in danger of being given to Eteocles’ tigers for sport.
“Hercules Unchained” AKA “Hercules and the Queen of Lidia” was released in 1959 and was directed by Pietro Francisci and an uncredited Mario Bava. It is an Italian and French sword and sandals film. The movie is loosely based on various Greco-Roman myths and plays by Aeschylus and Sophocles. It is a direct sequel to “Hercules” 1958. It is Steve Reeves second and last role as Hercules.
Many people liked the original “Hercules” better than the sequel. I thought the sequel was a lot more interesting and a lot more fun than the first. Reeves shows he does have some acting chops in this film and Antonini as Ulysses is actually quite amusing as the quick thinking comic relief. The film itself is also an interesting mix of plots and subplots.
I did notice that in most of these he-men films it seems to be perfectly fine for the super-hero to have sex with any Queen or Princess that comes along but not so his wife. She, of course, is lusted after and rape may be intended but she manages to stay either chaste or true.
Sylvia Lopez who plays the evil Queen Omphale had been diagnosed with leukemia when filming began. She died in November 1959 at the age of 26.