Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fury of the Vikings

Mario Bava's Erik the Conqueror has an international cast that features, among many others, Cameron Mitchell, Joe Robinson, Alice and Ellen Kessler. It is part of a cycle of Italian Viking movies that apparently begins with The Last of the Vikings, and all made in the wake of the success of The Vikings.

They must have been remarkably easy, as, from what I've seen, they seem to have done a lot of cannibalizing of plots, sets and props from the popular cycle of Peplums, the familiar Sword and Sandal movies of the '50s and '60s. For those of us with an interest in things Viking, it can be odd to see so many characters masked in remarkably Greco-Roman costuming standing in and around the props and setting of the Norsemen.

This movie more even than most, however, seems to take place in a fantasy time, even crediting a major locale as "The Land of the Vikings", especially because of Bava's renowned expressionistic lighting style.

It must be said that this movie is not made from the strongest script Bava ever worked with, but it's well-acted, for the most part, especially by Mitchell, gloriously photographed and the set-pieces and action sequences are glorious and exciting. One can easily see why Bava gravitated toward the more fantastic as well as the smaller in scale, because, action aside, the best moments of this are either vaguely fantastical or smaller character moments between characters, set off against backgrounds and setting that perfectly set their mood.

Listening to the commentary by Tim Lucas and the audio interview with Lucas and Mitchell, both of which give a better idea how many of the shots were achieved only make the experience of the DVD even more wonderful and informative.

So, I haven't found a new favorite Bava movie, but definitely a movie I'll be revisiting on occasion long into the future.

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