14 September 2017

ARROW VIDEO PRESENTS: ERIK THE CONQUEROR. (1961) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.




ERIK THE CONQUEROR. (1961) DIRECTED BY MARIO BAVA. STARRING CAMERON MITCHELL, GEORGE ARDISSON, ALICE KESSLER AND ELLEN KESSLER. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a fantastic, almost luridly colourful historical epic from the Daddy of the Italian giallo genre, Mario Bava. Giallo, of course, meaning the horror/thriller films or books that originated in Italy and derived their name from the yellow-coloured paperback books that were widely available after the Second World War.

Mario Bava has directed films such as CALTIKI- THE IMMORTAL MONSTER (1959) and BLACK SUNDAY (1960), starring the beautiful, exotic-looking scream queen Barbara Steele. ERIK THE CONQUEROR is a Viking epic, anyway, so let's see what grains of historical knowledge we can all dredge up from our dim and distant schooldays regarding those blonde invaders from Scandinavia, shall we?

Let's see now, Vikings, Vikings. Tall, blonde, hairy, they invaded England and Ireland (that's where I am...!) and raped our monks and married our women. Or did they rape the women and marry the monks? I'm not too sure. They certainly took a deep liking to the gold and silver treasure and fancy jewelled goblets the monks kept locked up in their monking towers, anyway.

Either way, they liked it so much here in Ireland that they decided to stay here, and the oldest part of Dublin city, or DUBH LINN meaning BLACK POOL, actually dates from ye olde Viking times. If you're an Irish schoolkid, there is absolutely no way in the world you can get out of learning about the Vikings. It's as mandatory as sneaking your first swig of Guinness at a family get-together, usually from the glass of dregs left on the sideboard by Uncle Tom while he goes for a piss or out for a fag...!

We tend to associate 'em (the Vikings, that is) with looting, raping and pillaging, and we know that they sailed silently and swiftly across the sea and up rivers in their gigantic- but narrow, for sneaking up said rivers- longboats. 

A wealthy Viking's body would be burned on his longboat after death, if my memory serves me correctly, a fine waste of wood if you ask me, but it looks terribly cool. There's a great and visually stunning example of this ancient Viking tradition at the end of ERIK THE CONQUEROR, which leads us neatly to the film.

In a nutshell, it's the story of two adorable little blonde Viking brothers, the royal sons of the deceased King Harold, Eron and Erik, who are separated when they're nippers (in 786 AD) and only find each other again some twenty years later. They're shocked to find themselves on opposing sides of a deadly war (is there any other kind?) between the Vikings (that's Eron) and the British (that's Erik), capiche?

See, what happens is that Erik is washed up in Viking Land after a rather nasty shipwreck, where the first person he meets is Rama, one half of the set of stunningly beautiful blonde-haired twins known in real-life as the Kessler Girls, or Alice and Ellen Kessler.

They've appeared on the cover of the Italian edition of PLAYBOY and represented West Germany, where they were born, in the 1959 Eurovision Song Contest. For anyone who wants to know, they came in at eighth place with their little ditty, TONIGHT WE WANT TO GO DANCING...! They're still alive, as far as I know, God bless 'em.

There's something about gorgeous twin females that sends guys into a terrible tizzy, poor stupid males that they are, being lead by their trouser-brain instead of their head-brain. They always tend to see twins as representing twice the sexual pleasure of one attractive female. Stupid men, haha. Will they ever stop chancing their luck and punching above their weight?

These two Kessler ladies remind me of their darker-haired counterparts, the fabulous Colllinson twins, Madeleine and Mary, who starred with the late great Peter Cushing in the Hammer Horror film TWINS OF EVIL and who, I think, did the nudie PLAYBOY thing as well. Naughty twins! Twice the fun and twice the visual stimulation, haha.

Naturally, Erik falls straightaway in love with Rama, while his brother Eron (although they
don't know yet that they're bros!) is in love with Daya, the other twin. Well, they've both got eyes, haven't they, these men? The twins are bleedin' gorgeous, although Erik has some difficulty telling the comely pair apart at first. 

Daya and Rama together equals Diorama, by the way. They're projecty-type things that American school students make for school, if THE SIMPSONS have steered me correctly, and they always have so far. Daya-Rama, diorama.Try it and see...!

So, will the brothers be re-united again after a lifetime apart? I won't tell, but I will say that Erik has a distinguishing mark on his fine manly body (on his left tit, to be precise) that will prove him immediately to Eron to be the royal brother he's missed and mourned and presumed was dead his whole life. Will Eron welcome Erik back with open manly Viking arms, then? You'd imagine that he would, wouldn't you, but these Vikings were an unpredictable lot...

The film looks wonderful, with the two beautiful blonde women and the two handsome blonde men fleshing out an already pulchritudinous cast rather nicely. The longboats are warlike and authentic-looking and the battles, with all the grunting and sweating and clashing of heavy steel, are terrific fun to watch.

Vestal Virgins are sacrificed for having earthly sex with human males instead of saving themselves and keeping themselves pure for, I think, the Viking gods who might or might not exist. Personally, I'd take the earthly sex with the human males, which is a definite and a given, over the nebulous possible promise of a roll in the hay with Odin or one of his mates. A ride in the hand and all that jazz...

ERIK THE CONQUEROR is available to buy now from ARROW VIDEO.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com







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