Perseus Against the Monsters (1963)

Perseus takes on a lake dragon!
Perseus takes on a lake dragon!
'Thrills and monsters - never before seen!'
‘Thrills and monsters – never before seen!’

A hero must deal with an evil ruler, warriors, Medusa and a lake-dwelling dragon.

Just take a look at this Medusa!
Take a look at this Medusa!

Originally released in Italy as PERSEO L’INVINCIBLE, this movie is known by several other names, including THE VALLEY OF THE STONE MEN and, in the United States, as MEDUSA AGAINST THE SON OF HERCULES. (‘The Sons of Hercules’ was a 1960s syndicated television show – a series of 13 repackaged Italian sword and sandal movies that were given a standardised theme tune, etc. This film was one of these repackaged peplums.) 

Italian poster
Italian poster

Directed by Alberto De Martino, PERSEUS AGAINST THE MONSTERS stars Richard Harrison as the heroic Perseus. Long before he became a master ninja in many of Godfrey Ho’s unhinged 1980s IFD ninja action flicks, Harrison starred in a whole bunch of Italian genre movies – and this one is pretty cool!

Perseus and his deer chum
Perseus and his deer chum

The main reason, for me, that PERSEUS AGAINST THE MONSTERS sticks in the memory is because it features an amazingly off-the-wall interpretation of Medusa, designed by Carlo Rambaldi.

Just look at this freakish thing!
Just look at this freakish thing!

In this movie Medusa resembles a kind of Lovecraftian life form: a perambulating tree-thing with spidery root-legs, a nest of head-tentacles/snakes and a single, blinking, glowing eye. This creature seems more plant-like than a flesh and blood being: a Gorgon-Triffid if you will!

Rambaldi, famous for his work on ALIEN and E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, brings this bizarre creation to life via a full-scale mechanised model. I love it!

Wow! Don't you just love this odd creation?!
Wow! Don’t you just love this thing?!
Look at the way it jerkily moves about!
Look at the way it jerkily moves about!

Adding to the impact of this weird creature-being is its lair, the valley of Medusa, which is an atmospheric location, full of mist and soldiers (and horses) turned to stone.

Medusa surrounded by its victims
Medusa surrounded by its stone victims

The plot for PERSEUS AGAINST THE MONSTERS involves a dragon too, which is also brought to the screen via a full-size articulated creation. Though its movements are limited, this big, reptilian water monster is quite impressive to look at, almost resembling a zombie sauropod.

Dragon alert!
Dragon alert!
Roar!
Roar!
The dragon attacks a group of mounted men!
The dragon attacks a group of mounted men!

With some battles and matte paintings thrown in, PERSEUS AGAINST THE MONSTERS passes the time nicely.

Here are some posters for it…

Italian poster
Italian poster
Spanish poster
Spanish poster
French poster
French poster
Italian poster
Italian poster
Belgian poster
Belgian poster
German poster
German poster

Okay, one more look at the ‘Gorgon-Triffid’ because, well, it’s such an insane, unconventional way of depicting Medusa…

Weirdness!
Weirdness!

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