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In a campaign through Briatin, Caligula, the mad & decadent emperor
of Rome, takes Glaucus (Richard Harrison) & his fiancée Hena prisoner
& takes them to Rome with him. & while Hena is soon made slave of
Caligula's young aunt, the ruthless Messalina (Lisa Gastoni), Glaucus is
to fight & die in the arena.
But in the arena, Glaucus shows what a fierce fighter he is, & soon
he has not only defeated all of his enemies, he has also made an attempt
at Caligula's life. Caligula is furious, but through his actions, Glaucus
has caught the eye of Messalina, who figures she might have use of a man
like him to overthrow her nephew ...
But Glaucus soon not only manages to make an escape, he also manages to
take Hena with him, & before long he has established contact with some
honest Roman rebels ...
Meanwhile at the imperial palace, Caligula has ordered a banquet for
those he thinks oppose him, but insead of showing them who'S the boss
around these parts, he is brutally assassinated. In the chaos that ensues,
Messalina, who was behind the assassination from the beginning, manages to
claim the throne for her husband, the benign Claudius, & soon enough
manages to send Claudius away on a campaign to Britain. With her hubby
gone, Messalina shows her ture colours, & proves she can be as mad
& cruel as Caligula, if not more so. & soon enough, she has
Glaucus arrested again, & Hena too, & threatening Hena's life she
makes Glaucus her assassin, killing her political opponents.
Thing is, Glaucus refuses & makes another getaway with Hena, only to be
caught again, & this time the pair of them are to be publicly roasted
in a cage on open fire. But by now, benign Claudius & his troops
return from Britain, & they, with the Roman rebels, fight & defeat
Messalina & her army of gladiators (why she suddenly has an army of
gladiators I don't know). Glaucus & Hena are of course freed & in
the end leave for Britain with the gratitude of the Roman populace.
Rather unremarkable gladiator-epic, no better or worse than so many
other peplums (the Italian version of the sword & sandal-genre)
made in its time. Only some torture scenes, like when hero & heroine
are to be roasted publicly, provide a mild chuckle.
By the way, neither the Son of Hercules (as the American title - Messalina
Against the Son of Hercules - claims) nor Hercules himself (as the
French title - Hercule contre les mercenaires - claims) have
anything to do with this film. On the other hand, the film has only very little
to do with historical facts.