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Film / Hercules Returns

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Film buff Brad McBain is a hapless employee of Australia's largest cinema corporation. When his boss Sir Michael Kent unveils his plan for a huge multiplex showing low-brow movies in overcrowded theatres with minimal staff and price-gouging concession stands, McBain decides to quit his job and renovate the disused Picture Palace with the help of projectionist Sprocket so they can show movies like they did back in the good old days. For a Publicity Stunt their publicist Lisa suggests that for the red carpet premiere they show the last movie playing at the Picture Palace when it was shut down, the Italian Sword and Sandal movie Herculesnote .

Unfortunately on opening night they discover the movie they've been sent is (thanks to Kent's machinations) the undubbed Italian version. There's only one thing to do: Gag Dub the entire movie as it's being projected on screen!

This movie has the following tropes:

  • Alone in a Crowd: McBain is introduced struggling through a crowd of pedestrians while going the opposite way at a traffic crossing.
  • Amazon Chaser: When Lisa turns up to apply for the publicist job, one of the painters renovating the Palace gives her a Wolf Whistle. She punches him without breaking stride. McBain and Sprocket decide to hire her at once.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Zeus (actually Stretch hiding in the altar) tells Hercules his purpose in the city of Chlamydia is to openly reveal to the world his true homosexual tendencies. Hercules, for his part, vehemently denies being gay.
    Hercules in a huff: Never heard anything so ridiculous in all of my life. Me, of all peop—My God, what if he's right?! Oh, of course he isn't.
  • Bad Boss: Angry that McBain has gone ahead with his plan to open the Palace, Kent calls his secretary and tells her to send in someone he can fire.
  • Bannister Slide: McBain does this on the grand staircase of the Palace while Flynning with Kent.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Sprocket (played by the towering Bruce Spence) and McBain (David Argue).
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • When Kent storms up to the projection room to put a stop to things, Hercules tells him to sit down.
    • An actor Spiking the Camera is used for Ted apologizing to the audience for suggesting that Viewers Are Morons.
  • Bridal Carry: Hercules does this to Labia on arrival at Chlamydia. She's not impressed.
    Labia: Look, I know you saved my life, but get your hand off my left tit and put me down!
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • Ted and Muriel are looking for a new act for their nightclub.
      Ted: What about that exotic dancer? You know...she does that thing with the vacuum cleaner.
      Muriel: But she sucks.
      Ted: Yeah, that's the one!
    • Muriel goes to bow before the demigod Hercules only for Herc to grab her because he thinks she's going to fall.
    • The foley work done by McBain, Sprocket and Lisa to simulate people lighting fires, beating each other up, scoffing down food, fighting in water and ramming their heads into walls involves doing exactly those things.
  • Compensating for Something: Hercules wants to be a nightclub singer because he's tired of all those jokes about bodybuilders having a Teeny Weenie. Which is not true in his case.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment:
    • To punish his son for eloping with Labia, Testiculi's dad gives him the Beer Garden Torture: ten buckets of creme de menthe! Plus the toes get cut off his sandals.
    • Muriel says the last person to disobey Zeus was turned into an accountant.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: Parodied; Kent is bragging about how they've purchased the very best movies for their new cinema complex. While he's talking McBain is sorting through movie posters for Rambo Meets Rocky, Rambo Meets Bambi and then Rambo Eats Bambi.
  • Cute, but Cacophonic: Labia's Ocker accent and Annoying Laugh. Delilah's Inelegant Blubbering.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Ursus threatens to punch Samson so hard he'll have teeth marks in his sphincter.
  • Did the Earth Move for You, Too?: Used to parody the underwhelming post-coital behavior of the actors playing Runaway Fiancé Labia and her beloved Testiculi.
    Testiculi: I didn't expect the Earth to move...but I at least expected you to.
  • Double Entendre
    • "What does that man think he's doing with his hands on my Labia?"
    • "Labia and Testiculi, a couple that by definition are destined to be joined together..."
  • Dumb Muscle: Hercules the Pinhead.
    Queen: [Labia] also said that she admires all those muscles. It's a pity that the biggest one is between your ears.
    Hercules: What?! That's unfair; there's nothing between my ears!
    • And Samson isn't too bright either, but he wasn't in the Bible as well.
  • The End: As the Italian sword-and-sandal movie comes to an end, The Narrator announces that everything is just dandy. On being told that's "a bit mincey", he decides everything is just...
    Title Card saying FINE note 
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Testiculi's father is just called "Dad" in the credits.
  • Fight Scene Failure: Lampshaded In-Universe.
    • Ursus punches Machismo in the gut, but then promises to pull his next punch. Cue this trope.
    • "Why did you all fall down? I missed the lot of ya!"
  • Fan Disservice:
  • Flynning: Done between Kent and McBain using microphone stands. Until Lisa loses patience and has Kent Punched Across the Room.
  • Framing Device: The plot takes up 15 minutes of the film, with the remaining 65 given over to the Gag Dub which is the real movie.
  • Gag Dub: The dubbed part was based on the live show performed by the comedy group Double Take in the early 1990s. They would show a movie and perform the dialog and some sound effects on microphones from the rear of the theatre. They did four different shows, dubbing Hercules Returns, The Astrozombies, The Pirates and The Killer Bees.
  • Gratuitous Italian: After dodging a Bolt of Divine Retribution, Hercules responds with "Mamma mia!" until Zeus informs him that they're not doing the Italian version of the movie.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: The Gag Dub takes an Italian Sword and Sandal movie full of shirtless musclemen in short skirts who like wrestling with each other, and runs with it.
  • Hong Kong Dub: Obligatory given that the trope is also known as a "Hercules Dub".
  • I Own This Town: Kent won't tolerate competitors in the cinema business and promises to destroy McBain purely out of spite. Lampshaded when Sprocket says he's stuck working at a porn theatre because "Kent controls this town".
  • Is This Thing Still On?: The cinema goers can hear everyone talking in the projection booth. Due to Rule of Funny, it also fits what's happening on screen.
  • It's Not Porn, It's Art: When McBain first recruits him, Sprocket is showing porn films for the raincoat brigade because Kent has run him out of the business.
    Sprocket: Still peddling mainstream muck to the masses?
    McBain: Yeah. Are you still Head Projectionist at the Thrust-And-Grunt Emporium?
    Sprocket: If you mean, am I showing tasteful erotica to a select adult clientele...the answer is yes.
    McBain: "A select adult clientele?" They buy their raincoats at the candy bar!
  • Just a Stupid Accent: Delilah has a stereotypical Italian accent, Ursus has a Scottish one, while all the other Greeks speak fluent Australian.
  • Kung-Foley: An on-screen fight is intercut with the people in the projection room slapping each other and smashing things to provide the required sounds, and it eventually gets taken up to eleven with roaring fires, Sprocket smashing his head into the wall and the room being flooded. Eventually Kent rushes up to the projection booth to put a stop to this, with the subsequent You Fight Like a Cow dialogue matching what's happening on screen.
  • Lame Comeback: Ursus mocks Samson, trying to provoke him into a fight to see whether or not he's faking the loss of his strength. Samson's response?
    Samson: [pitifully] I'm really angry now. You know what you are? You're a big poop.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • Ursus suggests they cut directly to the next scene because the Italian in their conversation can't be dubbed correctly into English.
    • The prop jewels brought for Samson are made of "genuine plastic!"
    • When everyone thinks Samson is faking his loss of strength.
      "I think he's acting."
      "Yes, and badly too."
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Parodied when Testiculi's father reveals that he once slept with Muriel.
    Testiculi: (alarmed) Are you saying that Labia could be your daughter?
    Dad: Nah, I'm just bragging.
  • Macho Camp: Machismo speaks in a Camp Gay manner yet can thrash Ursus.
  • Megaton Punch: Lisa puts an abrupt end to the duel when Kent makes a sexist remark and she punches him across the room and out the doors.
    McBain : Looks like we have a hit on our hands.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: Hercules does this a lot (in fairness he's usually appealing to Zeus at the time). Parodied by having him getting ready to burst into song on these occasions.
  • Mistaken for Profound: Film critics David Stratton and Margaret Pomeranz (then hosting "The Movie Show") cameo as themselves. They're shown leaving the theatre impressed with how relevant a movie from three decades ago can be to modern times.
  • Musical Number Annoyance
    • Muriel and Ted have a "No. Just… No" Reaction whenever Hercules is about to burst into song, given that he's more fond of Frank Sinatra or Tony Orlando & Dawn than anything they put on in a popular nightclub.
    • A messenger arrives at Samson's house, and when his girlfriend answers the door starts singing a certain Tom Jones song. Delilah is not amused.
  • Noodle Implements: Ted and Muriel blackmail Fanny into going along with their Zany Scheme by threatening to reveal "...what you like doing with hamsters, a wetsuit and a bathful of custard."
  • Pec Flex: When Machismo faces off with Ursus, he gives this legendary line: "I'll fight you on one condition... that you lower your nipples." Ursus... does.
  • Professional Butt-Kisser
    • Kent's Yes-Man King. Lampshaded during McBain's Not Afraid of You Anymore moment.
      McBain (using Hercules voice): Don't you get it? You can't intimidate me anymore, Kent! (Dramatic Finger Pointing) I'm not one of your slimy little underlings; not like that assistant of yours—God he's such a brownnose that instead of a handkerchief he uses toilet paper!
    • When Zeus starts throwing thunderbolts at his son to get his attention, Hercules grovels appropriately.
      Hercules: Father, I am but mere mortal-ah! I am nothing but the toe-jam from between your mighty feet-ah!
  • Punny Name: The city of Lydia becomes Chlamydia, Princess Omphale = Labia, and Prince Inor = Testiculi. Maciste is now Machismo.
  • Rapid Hair Growth: The Fridge Logic of Samson growing his hair back in just three days in time for one last fight scene is lampshaded.
  • Sdrawkcab Speech: The actor playing Hercules has a tendency to walk away from the people he's talking to, then abruptly turn to face them, at which point the Gag Dub always makes a sound like the soundtrack is being reversed.
  • Styrofoam Rocks: Machismo complains about Ursus knocking over his mom's papier-mâché column, and Hercules doesn't like his rubber club (even though it can knock people down without hitting them).
  • Take That!:
    • Ted suggests that they hire that Cretan singer Kylie Minogus. Muriel retorts that she's only popular with Cretans.note 
    • Zeus says that Hercules was to be played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, but "I couldn't understand the bugger."
  • Theme Tune Rap: Despite his liking for Sinatra songs, the Hercules Rap is sung by the title character for the end credits in a last chance to get accepted as a singer.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: When Ursus grabs Machismo in a Killer Bear Hug around the waist, Machismo says he'll give him half an hour to stop.
  • The Triple:
    • Hercules says his Mission from God will give him a chance to grow, to learn, and beat the living snot out of other musclemen.
    • "I never liked you, McBain. You're a idealist...AND YOU'RE FIRED!"
  • Unusual Euphemism:
  • Uptown Girl: Testiculi's dad runs a beer garden and hates the stuck-up yuppies who own the Pink Pantheon nightclub, so isn't happy about his son falling for Labia. Though having her burnt at the stake for Barbeque Night seems Disproportionate Retribution.
  • Viewers Are Morons: Ted wants to hire a new act for his nightclub, but can't find anyone his wife likes.
    Ted: Listen, Muriel love, I'll find someone to please an audience! Though your average audience these days is stupid anyway. (Aside Glance) No offence...
  • Vocal Dissonance:
    • The Camp Gay muscleman Machismo, and Princess Labia with her Ocker accent.
    • When McBain is fighting with Kent in the projection booth, the voice of Hercules is dubbed over his own. Kent tells him off for trying to talk like a mythical hero.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: As our heroes go Riding into the Sunset, The Narrator says that Labia and Testiculi got married and adopted Stretch, Samson married Delilah and went on to host the chat show Good Morning Athenea, Ursus went on...and on and on because nobody could shut him up, Machismo became a hairdresser, and Hercules became a washed-up overpaid nightclub singer.
  • Wet Sari Scene: The girls go for a swim in their togas and declare it's practice for the Wet T-Shirt Contest.