ERIK THE CONQUEROR
Reviewed by: Ryan Doom
Alice and Ellen Kesslar
What's it about
After the English battle the Vikings in Medieval times, two brothers become separated and lead two very different lives. Will they ever reconnect? Will they have to battle each other? What do you think?
(Note: This is the Euro verison that's uncut and uncensored.)
Is it good movie?
Thereís something a little odd about watching an Italian movie about the Vikings and Medieval England. I know they didnít speak modern English and itíd be difficult to understand Middle English in a movie, but Italian? The Vikings? Uh, sure. Erik the Conqueror a.k.a The Invaders (released in 1963) comes from the classic 1960ís director Mario Bava, who Iíve suddenly come to respect. While the few films Iíve seen of his donít necessarily break new ground or make him greatest director ever not to be known in the US, they do hold a wonderful quality of cinematography and color schemes. Bava, who also directs the camera, was ahead of his time in shots and techniques. He made the blandest scene interesting with his use of lighting and landscape. Here, he has amble opportunity with a Viking sword picture. Many shots highlight his ability to breathe life into film, and itís clear where modern directors like Tim Burton found inspiration. However, Erik the Conqueror attempts to reach epic status, but it falls short. Though each sequence seems vivid, all actors sport some of the worst fake beards and wigs ever. Not that thatís bad. Itís adds a certain quality of cheese to go along with the very hot 1960ís women, especially the Kesslar twins. Nevertheless, where Erik the Conqueror mostly falters comes from the uneven story (which is nothing new and jumps around and skips scenes far too much) and the mini runtime of 90 minutes. How the hell can an epic tale be told in an hour and a half? Impossible. One just canít. Thatís why all epics back in the day came with two VHS tapes, not just one.
Erik the Conqueror does boast some memorable scenes. My favorite comes from when Erik must battle another Viking in order to become king. However, before they can engage in combat, they must first forge their own weapons. When has a movie ever shown to combatants hurry to get their choice instrument sharpest first? Though Erik goes clichťd and wonít kill because itís wrong, he at least kills with great action, something every action sequence delivers on. Each time a battle erupts (land, sea, and, well, land), Bava speeds up the film, allowing for some fast action with awesome looking wood swords (I think). Another excellent part is the ending, which I wonít ruin, but it utilizes arrows like no other film that I can recall. Itíll make one wonder why it hasnít been used before.
Video / Audio
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Audio: 2.0 Mono in both Italian and English, depending how lazy you are.
Commentary with author Tim Lucas: Lucas, a biographer for Bava, gives a very informative and pleasant track to listen to, even if he sounds like heís reading at times. It isnít free flowing and it actually grew a little stale after awhile.
Audio Interview with Cameron Mitchell: A 29 minute conversation with Lucas from nearly 20 years ago. Some interesting tidbits for fans of the movie or Bava, but otherwiseÖeh.
Trailers, Posters: They're trailers and posters.
Bava Bio: It's text, but for anyone needing to catch up, it's a good read.
If Bavaís semi-epic Erik the Conqueror offers anything, it offers hot women, good sword fights, and great (awful) fake beards. Spartacus it ainít, but worthy of a viewerís time, it is.