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  Saga of the Viking Women and Their Journey to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent, The Man Hunters
Year: 1957
Director: Roger Corman
Stars: Abby Dalton, Brad Jackson, Susan Cabot, June Kenney, Richard Devon, Betsy Jones-Moreland, Jonathan Haze, Lynn Bernay, Sally Todd, Gary Conway
Genre: Historical, Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Many years ago, when the world was young, a group of Viking Women patiently awaited the return of their menfolk, who had set out to sea on a hunting trip three years back and never returned. Now they are concerned they will never see the men ever again, so make up their minds to go to sea themselves by throwing spears into a tree; this method tells them to commence the search, and they build a longboat to sail in. As they begin their journey, led by Desir (Abby Dalton), they discover a stowaway, Ottar (Jonathan Haze), the sole man of the party, who claims to know about the waters they are sailing into - the waters of the great sea serpent...

Written by Lawrence L. Goldman, from a story by Irving Block, this is one of those A.I.P. films where it's patently obvious that the title was thought up before the script, and what a title it is, going down in the history books as one of the longest (although it's usually shortened to The Viking Women and the Sea Serpent). Historical accuracy is somewhat lacking here, and there's not much in the way of fjords, as the setting more closely resembles the Californian countryside accompanied by a nice beach. However, there is an unconvincing giant sea serpent, which Kirk Douglas certainly didn't encounter during his Viking epic.

Our heroines are all blonde, and all wear minidresses, apart from one lady. Enger, the priestess (Susan Cabot) has long dark hair, and according to this film, anyone with dark hair is not to be trusted, as evinced by Enger's behaviour. She is a rival in love to Desir, and when on the voyage, she attempts to clonk Desir on the head with the sail to get her out of the way - she doesn't succeed, and no one is any the wiser. Then it's time for the vortex, heralded by the appearance of the serpent, which smashes the longboat into toothpicks and dumps the Vikings onto a beach that looks suspiciously like the one they set out from.

But it isn't (well, yeah, it is, but for the purposes of the story it isn't), it's a new land of barbarians led by Stark (Richard Devon), who force anyone who washes up on the shore to do their bidding. And guess what? They've all got dark hair. Unhappy at being forced into slavery, the girls protest loudly, but there's the chance that they'll meet the menfolk they've been hunting. Naturally, they do, as their blonde, potential husbands have become slaves mining away at the local rockface, but the barbarians have other plans for the ladies - nothing too explicit, but we can guess by the way they leer at them during a banquet.

If there's one thing that The Viking Women and the Sea Serpent is, it's camp. Lines like "See how the Storm God licks his lips at the coming feast!" embrace the cod-ancient dialogue of many a historical epic, but sound daft on such a low budget, especially as the storm god is a bit of superimposed lightning and thunderclap. Never mind that the Viking Women have spent three years alone with nothing to satisfy them except the underwhelming Ottar, but the barabarian prince is about as butch as Larry Grayson. In fact, the only young barbarian woman we see is a dancer - how did they spend those long barbarian nights before the Viking Women showed up? Silly enough to be amusing, the film isn't Roger Corman at his best, but is too short to be a waste of your time, even if it does represent a slur to brunettes. Music by Albert Glasser.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Roger Corman  (1926 - )

Legendary American B-Movie producer and director who, from the fifties onwards, offered low budget thrills with economy and flair. Early films include It Conquered the World, Not of This Earth, Attack of the Crab Monsters, A Bucket of Blood, The Little Shop of Horrors and X. The Intruder was a rare attempt at straightforward social comment.

Come the sixties, Corman found unexpected respectability when he adapted Edgar Allan Poe stories for the screen: House of Usher, Pit and The Pendulum, The Masque of the Red Death and The Tomb of Ligeia among them, usually starring Vincent Price. He even tried his hand at counterculture films such as The Wild Angels, The Trip and Gas!, before turning to producing full time in the seventies.

Many notable talents have been given their break by Corman, such as Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorcese, Monte Hellman, Jonathan Demme, Joe Dante, James Cameron and Peter Bogdanovich. Corman returned to directing in 1990 with the disappointing Frankenstein Unbound.

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