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Episode Guide: 412- Hercules and the Captive Women

Movie: (1961) Hercules goes to Atlantis to save his son, but evil Queen Antinea stands in his way.

First shown: 9/12/92
Opening: Gypsy wants to join Joel, Tom and Crow in the theater and Joel agrees, though Tom and Crow are dubious
Invention exchange: Frank demonstrates The lawn baby, J&tB show off the womb-mate
Host segment 1: Joel wonders: is there such a thing as “good-natured” brawling
Host segment 2: Crow presents his rather dubious “history” of Hercules
Host segment 3: The bots’ have created a Hercules action figure, and it’s pretty lame
End: Laying the Hercules movies to rest, Joel reads letter, Frank is being chased by mower
Stinger: “Hercules! Help me!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (167 votes, average: 4.20 out of 5)


• This is one of the lesser sword-and-sandal outings. Confusing movie, hit and miss riffing, pretty good segments. Of course, this one includes the classic line: “Today is dedicated to Uranus,” and is the landmark episode in which Gypsy watches a short portion of the movie along with Joel, Tom and Crow. All in all, fun, but a lesser effort.
• This episode was included in Shout! Factory’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol XXIX.”
• Joel’s confidence in Gypsy is admirable, but let’s note for the record that, sadly, Crow and Tom’s instincts were correct. Gypsy is not down with the street.
• Joel says “Zatharatu.” I’ve always heard it was “Zarathustra.” Did he mean it or is Joel using some obscure alternate name?
• Despite all the hoopla to the contrary, this is NOT the last Hercules movie.
• As Tom sagely notes: “This would really be exciting if I knew what was goin’ on.” All the excitement about Gypsy in the theater takes place when the movie is setting up the plot, with the result that I never did really figure out what the heck is going on in this movie.
• I suspect a hunk of the movie was cut right around the first commercial. Before the commercial, there are portents of danger and Herc is tossin’ thrones around. After the break, Herc wakes up on a ship and everybody is smirking silently at him. The heck?
• Does this story resemble any actual ancient tale? Was there ever a King Androcles (with or without a lion)?
• All these movies have men in miniskirts, but this one has to have the miniest minis I’ve seen yet (shudder).
• Gypsy’s riff: “They’re steam-cleaning the horses!” delights Joel, Tom and Crow. Eh, not bad. But of her few riffs, I actually like “Oh, they’ve got a fun friend!” better.
• By my count, Gypsy lasts 5 and a half minutes. Sheesh, Gypsy, these sword-and-sandal things are among the more watchable movies MST did! What a lightweight!
• Gypsy exits left. A few other characters have exited or entered this way. Where does that exit lead? And how do they eat and breathe?
• Firesign Theatre reference: “…The Golden Hind.”
• I never noticed before that, a couple of times, they do a needle drop on that musical sting that I think was originally composed for “This Island Earth” and that I’ve heard in a lot of Universal movies.
• Crow goes a bit overboard with the “I have my rights! It was Callahan!” bit. (For those who don’t know, it’s a reference to the movie “Dirty Harry.”) He does it five times by my count, practically every time the little guy in the movie has a line.
• Callback: ”Hurry, Diana!” (Undersea Kingdom), Frank sings “I sing whenever I sing…” (Giant Gila Monster), “Rock Candy Baby” (Daddy-O), “…I’ve heard them talk about so much lately…” (Gamera).
• That’s Frank as the voice of the action figure when he says “I’m so sleepy…” but the final comment is by Mike. Wonder why they didn’t just have one of them do all the comments? By the way, the action figure’s arm falls off in the middle of the sketch. Joel conceals pretty well and they keep going.
• CreditsWatch: Nathan Devery finished up his internship with this episode. “Ammendment” is still misspelled.
• Cast and crew roundup: The editor of the American version was Hugo Grimaldi, who also worked on “The Phantom Planet,” “First Spaceship on Venus” and “The Human Duplicators.” Gordon Zahler composed the score on the American version, as he did with “The Phantom Planet,” “First Spaceship on Venus,” “The Human Duplicators” and “Women of the Prehistoric Planet.” In front of the camera, Ivo Garrani also appeared in “Hercules” and Mimmo Palmara also appeared in “Hercules Unchained” and “Hercules.” Narrator Leon Selznick can also be heard in “The Phantom Planet.”
• Fave riff: “Dear lord, the canary exploded!” Honorable mention: Tom: “You guys are supposed to be nice to me! Today is dedicated to my…” Joel: “We know!” Also: “Well, whatever tugs at your bobber, little fella.”

72 Replies to “Episode Guide: 412- Hercules and the Captive Women”

  1. briizilla says:

    I love Gypsy. Jim Mallon on the other hand….


  2. Greasyfries says:

    This is one of my favorite episodes, and a film that I adore without a hint of irony. and a great example the kind of riffing that mostly plays along with the film, rather than against it. The reason this film may be hard to follow is the huge chunks that were cut out of it to fit on MST, to say nothing of the ten minutes already cut from the European version for the USA release.

    Bonus! Extended good natured-brawling!


  3. Cornjob says:

    BTW Proteus was the name of the rapist computer in The Demon Seed and the name of one of the X-Men’s nastiest villains.


  4. Cornjob says:

    Re: #10 There may have been only one captive woman in the film, but she did have a real Sweet Gwendolyn vibe going on. I think she would have been at home on the dorm, I mean Moon of the Fire Maidens.


  5. dad1153 says:

    Took me a couple of tries to get through this experiment, which was new to me. Gypsy’s lame quips didn’t help since they come over a portion of the movie where they’re setting up the story, which is alraedy muddled-beyond-recognition by the TV edits. Shame this historic first-time visit of a fourth commentator to the theater was wasted, but I kind-of think The Brains did it on purpose to poke fun at people that think it’s easy to do what they do for a living (Gypsy = clueless “MST3K” fan or civilian that doesn’t get it). The shot of Herc’s stunned reaction (the one featured in the stinger) actually made me do a spit-take and laugh harder than I ever have watching a “Hercules” experiment, it’s such an odd-looking expression by an actor who was clearly chosen by what’s below his shoulders and not above them. :evilgrin: Joel and the Bots seem to try to compensate with quantity of riffs for the fact they themselves edited the movie in such a way it doesn’t make any sense, but a lot of their zingers (‘meanwhile, in the very same scene,’ ‘he’s got Earl Campbell thighs,’ ‘did I toss a throne last night?’, etc.) hit the mark. When the movie itself throws them an airball with ‘the blood of Uranus cannot be destroyed’ line they run with it, making this the rare “Hercules” episode that is confusing as heck and non-sensical but also very funny. I also like that Herc is practically a killing machine in this flick (perhaps he’s angry because there are no ‘captive women’ anywhere?) and, as is the norm, prone to falling asleep and being a prick at the whim of Italian scriptwriters. Premature celebration by everybody of getting through the “Hercules” stuff (more await the following season) but the invention exchange is pretty terrible, lowering down the score a bit.

    THREE STARS (out of five) for “Hercules And The Captive Women.” Favorite riff: ‘Michael Gross, nooo!’.


  6. A.J. (A Jerk) says:

    It’s not one of the best episodes, sure, but I like it nonetheless. Unlike some of the other episodes from around this time, this one’s a bit more to my liking humor-wise and I’d probably call it a minor favorite. Compared to the other Hercules episodes before it, it’s a little better than Unchained and much better than Moon Men (the one in Season 5 is a little inconsistent but I prefer it to Moon Men too).

    The only thing I don’t like about it, off the top of my head (I’m not watching these shows every week along with these entries and I haven’t seen it since this past summer), is that Dirty Harry reference Crow keeps doing when the little guy’s on screen. I’m not a fan at all of those kinds of jokes that they drive into the ground, especially when they involve screaming. Heck, they don’t even need to be a running gag, any kind of joke that’s just yelled or is really shrill like that sounds so forced.

    They do make up for it with the rest of the episode at least. There’s just enough here that makes me laugh whenever I watch it. Not quite uproarious laughter or anything, but it doesn’t need to be that funny to be good.


  7. thequietman says:

    “You know back in those days they didn’t even take the cheese out of the goat before serving it…”

    Here’s my stab at explaining the plot. Androcles dopes Hercules and brings him on the boat for added muscle (and perhaps as a little payback for Hercules smashing his throne earlier). The boat reaches Atlantis and the sailors mutiny, turning Androcles over to Queen Antinea and setting Hercules adrift. Hercules drifts to the island of Proteus and saves the maiden, then heads back to Atlantis to save Androcles.

    I think the title is misleading because there’s a misplaced plural. There is a captive woman (the one Hercules slays Proteus for), but not really captive ‘women’.

    Anyway, I’d be quite interested to see this one straight in full Technirama and Technicolor.


  8. Sitting Duck says:

    Hercules and the Captive Women passes the Bechdel Test. Queen Antinea and Ismene discuss the latter’s impending sacrifice.

    So was the Orange Hyena mentioned in HS #2 a real group or something the Brains made up?

    @ #7: Androcles does get eaten in the Fractured Fairy Tales version of the Story. Of course, he was acting like a dickweed, so he had it coming.

    Favorite riffs

    And if that map burns, it’ll be a Greece fire.

    Meanwhile, in the very same scene.

    “Oh Zeus, my father.”
    I’m not your real father. It was Poseidon.

    Watch out for the string, Herc. It’ll cut you.

    Wow, that’s cool. Is that a Six Flags Mountains of the Dead?

    Head Injury Playhouse says don’t let this happen to you.

    If things get rough, we eat the little guy.

    Oh great, the next Hercules doesn’t come until 9:47.

    Kids come running for the good taste of raw goat.

    “If my father finds me here with a girl…”
    He’d be surprised.

    Larry the Sensitive Leper.

    See, that’s why these prefab dungeons are a bad idea.

    Buffalo shot, won’t you come out tonight.

    And this is the closing of Uranus Days. Enjoy the finale and be careful driving home.

    When Atlantis fell, Allstate was there.


  9. Sitting Duck says:

    As for Hylas, Wikipedia only merits him a single paragraph in its Heracles article.


  10. touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    “You know, has Herc ever thought of, say, getting the innocent bystanders out of harm’s way before destroying a villain’s stronghold?”

    That’s not how war works. Not thousands of years ago and not today. :-|

    “Well! THAT threw cold water on everything!” — Tom Servo, from “Bloodlust”


  11. MSTie says:

    Any episode that has more Gypsy is aces in my book!


  12. dakotaboy says:

    All those jokes about Uranus really made me laugh. Normally I’m not one for that type of humor, but for some reason when they said, “The blood of Uranus must be avenged” I cracked up.

    “This day is dedicated to Uranus.”

    That must be why the men wear such short skirts!


  13. KidFlash says:

    Interesting tidbit: this is the only MST3K film that was shot in 70mm (the Super Technirama 70 camera process).

    While the Woolner Brothers didn’t bother releasing their recut in 70mm for American audiences since that was reserved for bigger and more high-profile movies at the time, it looks like the European ‘Conquers Atlantis’ cut did get a large-format run in England and other countries.


  14. Cornjob says:

    C’mon everyone, Uranus is no laughing matter.


  15. Sitting Duck says:

    When I first saw HS #2, whenever Crow said Hylas, I thought he was saying Hinus, sounding similar to hinder.


  16. Ro-man says:

    Crow: “It’s the Police!”
    Tom: “De do do do…. So, I guess I’ll just be sending out an S.O.S… “


  17. Lisa H. says:

    Joel says “Zatharatu.” I’ve always heard it was “Zarathustra.” Did he mean it or is Joel using some obscure alternate name?

    I always thought he just flubbed the line and they kept going. This looks like it might have been copied from an earlier version of this page (the link there is not correct; it points to Space Travelers) and seems to have that same idea. I don’t find any hits for the word that aren’t talking about this episode, in any case.


  18. cvbwe says:

    Just throwing my hat in the Hynus camp.


  19. Sitting Duck says:

    BTW I Googled Orange Hyena, and none of the results were for a Minneapolis-based performance troupe who did a nude production of Blythe Spirit (with or without Hylas as a cast member). So at this point I’m guessing they’re fictional.


  20. Scott P. says:

    I love the bombshell European redheads they would get for these movies. The Hercules experiments are all very easily digestible and very enjoyable. They’re never ones I have to think about watching or not. Consummate early mst3.


  21. KidFlash says:

    I think the title is misleading because there’s a misplaced plural. There is a captive woman (the one Hercules slays Proteus for), but not really captive ‘women’.

    Anyway, I’d be quite interested to see this one straight in full Technirama and Technicolor.

    The European title was Hercules Conquers Atlantis, which obviously makes more sense. The opening credits are on YouTube.

    Retromedia put it out in anamorphic widescreen years ago. No Blu-Ray as of yet.


  22. Bruce Boxliker says:

    Perhaps the ‘Women’ (plural) in the title refers to all the other women sacrificed to Proteus? It’s just that we only get to see the one that the Hercster rescues.
    Great episode! My 2nd favorite of the Hercmeister’s MST3k outings (after Moon Men). Love the Hercules action figure. More of an ‘Inaction’ Figure, though.


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