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I’d never seen a Reg Park movie until I watched Hercules in the Haunted World(1961) the other day. I always thought that, as low budget as the Steve Reeves Hercules movies were, the Reg Park movies, which came after Reeves and starred the lesser known Park, would be ultra low budget. Not that the Reeves Hercules movies were all that low in budget, the budgets are just low in comparison to Hollywood productions like Spartacus and The Ten Commandments. It turns out that Hercules in the Haunted World has a decent budget and holds up quality-wise against Reeves’ Hercules(1957) and Hercules Unchained(1959). Hercules in the Haunted World is officially the fourth movie in the Hercules series that Reeves started. Hercules and the Captive Women, also released in 1961, was the third. Hercules and Hercules Unchained were both directed by Italian director Pietro Francisci with cinematography by Mario Bava. Bava ended up directing Hercules in the Haunted World as well as keeping his role as cinematographer. He went on to be a big time giallo (Italian suspense/horror) director as well as directing a couple of spaghetti westerns and a brutal Italian Crime classic called Rabid Dogs(1974).
As far as the actual release year for the Hercules in the Haunted World, it is not unlike other Italian movies in that it had staggered release dates, starting with the Italian release. The Italian release is the date associated with the movie’s general release date even though other countries could end up releasing it a few years later. See chart below. Later release dates in the USA could affect the timeline of an actor’s popularity or even the timeline of the popularity of a style or genre. For example, Fistful of Dollars, the first movie in Italian director Sergio Leone’s Clint Eastwood western trilogy, was released in Italy in 1964. However, it wasn’t until its 1967 United States release that American audiences were exposed to a newer, cooler type of western, propelling Clint Eastwood to movie stardom. The later US release of Fistful of Dollars also postponed, by three years, the US popularity and subsequent imitation of Italian westerns and their brutal/surreal style.
Worldwide release dates for Hercules in the Haunted World
Italy………..November 16, 1961
West Germany….April 27, 1962
France……….May 9, 1962
Finland………June 8, 1962
Denmark………November 26, 1962
Mexico……….December 20, 1962
Sweden……….September 16, 1963
Argentina…….May 10, 1966
Hercules in the Haunted World also stars legendary Hammer Films horror movie star Christopher Lee which, in my opinion, upped the production value. Lee’s voice was apparently dubbed for the English version of the film, as was Park’s.
One thing to keep in mind when watching many Italian movies of the 1960s is that they’re more dream-like than Hollywood films, especially Giallos and many spaghetti westerns. Westerns, for example, like Sergio Leone’s Clint Eastwood trilogy, had kind of a surreal feel to them partly due to the fact that they were Italian movies portraying American settings, history, and culture, filmed in Spain, and starring Americans, Italians, and other European actors, not to mention the lip-syncing. Hercules in the Haunted World is kind of trippy as well with the colorful sets, atmospheric mist, and Hercules going from one strange adventure to another. Judge for yourself by watching it here: