Argolese (Dan Vadis) is wandering through the land when he saves a young woman in danger of being attacked by a lion. He wrestles the lion and kills it. The maiden turns out to be Telca (Spela Rozin) the daughter of King Tedaeo (Ugo Sasso). Normally, in this kingdom, when a man saves the life of a maiden he gets to marry her. Unless the maiden is the daughter of a king. If, however, Argolese can perform a service for the king he can marry Telca.

The kingdom has been laid waste from a dragon that lives in the mountains. If Argolese can slay the dragon and bring back a tooth from it to prove that the dragon is dead then the king will allow the marriage. Off Argolese goes to perform his task. First he must visit the soothsayer to find out where the dragon lives. After getting directions he heads off again. He finds the dragon and kills it.

In the meantime the village is attacked by a warring tribe known as “the Demulus”. They live in a city located inside a mountain. They burn down the village and kidnap King Tedaeo and his daughter Telca as well as a bunch of villagers for slaves. They are brought before Queen Ella (Carla Calo).

When Argolese returns to the village he sees all the devastation. The only one left is Babar (Jon Simons). Upon learning what happened he decides to sneak into their underground realm and free them. Instead he gets caught and is brought before the Queen. She sentences him to being pulled apart by elephants. When Argolese survives the event Ella decides she wants him to reign with her. Unfortunately for Ella, Melissa (Maria Flore), the daughter of the real ruler of Demulus has other plans.

“Sons of Hercules in the Land of Darkness” AKA “Hercules the Invincible” was released in 1964 and was directed by Alvaro Mancori. It is an Italian sword and sandal film. This was one of the fourteen Italian sword and sandal films that were repackaged for the American audience as part of the “Sons of Hercules” series.

If the guy slaying the dragon looks different in some shots there’s a reason for that. It comes from the film “Hercules” 1958. At first I thought that the dragon footage for the “Land of Darkness” film was removed and the “Hercules” footage put in for the U.S. version. Both films were repackaged and distributed by Joseph E. Levine for Embassy Pictures. The more I looked into it the more I believe that the Italians may have used the dragon footage from “Hercules” as stock footage instead of filming a new scene for the original version called “Hercules the Invincible”. After viewing several versions of the film in different languages with various scenes added and cut I found that all of them used the same dragon scene from “Hercules”. Unless I find footage to the contrary, ergo footage of a different dragon, then that’s what I’m going with.

As the he-man du jour Dan Vadis was born Constantine Daniel Vafiadis in Shanghai, China. He was an American actor that did a bunch of films from the early sixties to the early eighties. He was in several sword and sandal films as well as spaghetti westerns. He was also a U.S. Navy sailor and a bodybuilder. He died of a drug overdose in 1987.

In total the film is average for a sword and sandal film from the period. It has the usual muscle man feats of strength, beautiful women and stupid comic relief side kick. It’s not as campy as some and not as action filled as others but it was OK.

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