Erik the Conqueror
La Ruée des Vikings / The Invaders / Fury of the Vikings
Ferruccio De Martino for Galatea Film, Critérion Film, Societé Cinématographique Lyre
directed by Mario Bava
starring Cameron Mitchell, George Ardisson, Alice Kessler, Ellen Kessler, Andrea Checchi, Jean-Jacques Delbo, Francoise Christophe, Franco Giacobini, Raf Baldassarre, Enzo Doria, Joe Robinson, Gianni Solaro, Franco Ressell, Livia Contardi, Folco Lulli
written by Oreste Biancoli, Piero Pierotti, Mario Bava, music by Roberto Nicolosi, cinematography by Mario Bava, Ubaldo Terzano, assistant director: Franco Prosperi
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Whenever in the Middle Ages: The Vikings have pretty much run over
Great Britain, but British King Lotar (Franco Ressel) decides to negotiate
a treaty with Viking King Harald (Folco Lulli), a man of sound mind ...
but Lotar's second in command Rutford (Andrea Checchi) sees to it that
Harald's troops are lured into an ambush and are slaughtered, and when
Lotar threatens to punish him for that, Rutford sees to it that he too is
killed, but makes it look like the deed of a viking. Harald has two baby
sons though, and while one, Eron, is taken back to Scandinavia where the
vikings regroup, the other somehow gets lost and is later found by the
British queen Alice (Francoise Christophe), who raises him as her own son,
Twenty years pass: Eron (Cameron Mitchell, who at 43 did not look the
part of a twentysomething anymore) has become a viking leader, and he
intends to invade Britain to avenge the death of his father - but to do so
he has teamed up with Rutford, oblivious to the fact it was him who
betrayed the vikings.
Erik (George Ardisson) on the other hand has become commander of the
British fleet, which he is now leading against the vikings - but
unbeknowest to him, Rutford has sent a traitor with him, who sets the
fleet aflame during battle, making all their efforts futile. Surprisingly
Erik survives, is washed upon Scandinavian shores, and finds abode in a
Eron meanwhile has conquered the castle of the British queen, has taken
her hostage, and has installed Rutford as regent in his absence.
Erik falls in love with Rama (Alice Kessler), a priestess and the twin
sister of Eron's fiancée Daya (Ellen Kessler), and Rama promises to
reunite Erik with his mother during Eron's and Daya's wedding ... but at
the wedding, Erik mistakes Daya for Rama, causes a ruckus, is recognized
as the leader of the British fleet, and is neatly tied up. It's only in
the night when everybody is sleeping that Rama frees him and goes to
Britain with him and his mother, where Erik plans to form an army to
reconquer the royal castle. But when his army approaches the castle, they
realize the vikings have already landed in Britain and outnumber the Brits
two to one.
So Erik challenges Eron to an one-on-one fight, which Eron accepts, and
it seems Eron has little trouble defeating Erik - when he spots the tattoo
on his shoulder that identifies him as a viking prince and his long-lost
brother. Immediately, Eron wants to make peace with the Brits, but
Rutford's not one to easily give up his post ...
On a story level, Erik the Conqueror has little to offer in terms of
originality, it's just a formulaic period piece like so many others
produced in Italy during that time. But the film really succeeds in its
camerawork and its (sometimes psychedelic) use of colour and lighting that
not only make up for the film's budgetary restraints but manage to give
the film an eerie atmosphere all of its own, both of which of course
thanks to its director, Mario Bava, then still at the beginning of his
directing career and not yet the celebrated horror maestro of later years.
And that said, Erik the Conqueror is not among director Mario Bava's
better films, it's just formulaic genre fare - but it's very beautiful to look
at and ought to rate high on the nostalgia scale.