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A mysterious, knifethrowing stranger (Cameron Mitchell) saves Karin
(Elissa Pichelli) & her son Moki (Luciano Pollentin) from Aghen's
(Fausto Tozzi) henchmen, after which Karin, normally very suspicious
towards strangers, allows him to stay.
Moki soon comes to see a fatherlike figure in the stranger, who teaches
him to hunt, fish & how to throw knives, & even KArin opens up to
him after a while, but can't allow herself to love him since her husband
Arald (Giacomo Rosi-Stuart) has gone missing on a vikings' raid but might
still be alive.
Karin soon trusts the stranger enough to tell them the story of her
life & why Aghen's men are behind her:
At the day of her wedding to Arald, Aghen came to her village
unannounced, to bring them the heads of neighbouring king Rurik's wife
& child, claiming he was their enemy. Rurik, who was out on a raid
with his men when Aghen attacked his village, soon has his revenge as he
lays ruins to Arald's village, rapes Karin, but spares Arald's life.
... what Karin of course doesn not know is that Rurik, whom she ahs
only seen masked, is indeed the stranger, who has since realized that he
has wronged Arald, Karin & their vilalge & now wants to atone for
his since, & wants revenge on Aghen. But for the sake of Moki, who
might be his son from the rape, he is willing to give up his plans for
revenge, & indeed start a new life with Karin & Moki as a
sort-of-family. Thing is, Aghen wants Karin too.
Then Aghen is seen in the neighbourhood though, & Rurik sees he has
no choice but to fight him, , if only to secure the sagety of Karin &
Moki. With his superior knifethrowing skills (he can throw 3 knives at
once, all hitting their respective marks), he has soon immobilized Aghen's
henchmen, but Aghen proves a tougher nut to crack. But in the end, the
fight ends in a draw nly because Aghen makes a getaway.
Then though, Arald returns, & finding Rurik, his mortal enemy who
has raped his wife, with his family, leads him to all the wrong
conclusions, & soon the 2 of them engage in combat, even if Rurik
tries his best to dissuade Arald from fighting & on more than one
occasion refuses to kill him.
The fighjt is only ended when Karin rushes in, telling them Aghen has
kidnapped Moki. Now the 2 have to form an uneasy alliance to save the boy
& defeat Aghen once & for all ... & after a fierce battle,
But when Rurik sees Moki embracing his dad Arald, he realizes his
dreams of a family have come to an end, & rides off into the sunset.
This second viking-movie director mario Bava made with star Cameron
Mitchell actually owes more to the Western genre than other viking-films:
Not only does the absence of scenes on the sea (the vikings' traditional
battlegrounds), the loving depiction of outdoor scenery & some of the
sets suggest the Old West rather than Northern Europe, the story also
boasts more than slight similarities to George Stevens' classic Shane
(1952), with the hero merely wearing different
outfits & sporting a different kind of weapon here.
As a whole, the film is beautifully photographed & the cheap sets
are put to best use, but the direction is rather slow-paced & the
story is quite cheesy, but not the good kind of cheesy. In some way, an
interesting film (reportedly shot in under a week), but not one of Mario
Bava's better ones.