Saturday, 14 June 2008

Tarkan versus the Vikings (1971)

Tarkan versus the Vikings (Tarkan Viking kani) is the second movie included on Mondo Macabro’s Turkish Pop Cinema Double Bill DVD (the first being The Deathless Devil which I reviewed here a while back). Made in 1971, Tarkan versus the Vikingsis if anything even more fun.

Really this movie has everything you could possibly want. It has a beautiful warrior princess (she’s Attila the Hun’s daughter, no less), a bad guy with very impressive moustache, a giant killer octopus and lots of cute female Viking warriors. You probably didn’t know the Vikings had cute female warriors either, but you live and learn. It also has a hero, Tarkan, who possesses the main qualifications for an adventure film hero - he’s very brave and exceedingly stupid. Luckily he has his faithful wolf companion Kurt with him, an even more fortunately it turns out that Kurt is considerably smarter than Tarkan. The movie also has a glamorous but evil Chinese female villain, accompanied by blowgun-armed henchmen.

If all that’s not enough, it has loads of nudity and quite a bit of sex. And great costumes. The Vikings wear mostly furs, and for the cute female Viking warriors the furs come in bright orange and a rather pretty shade of pink. Just because you’re a female Viking warrior doesn’t mean you can’t be feminine. The make Viking chieftain favours a rather fetching shade of powder blue for his fur outfits. Yes, it’s pink for girls and blue for boys in the world of the Vikings.

The plot has something to do with both the Vikings and the wicked Chinese lady trying to kidnap Attila’s daughter. It might not make too much sense, but it doesn’t let up. The action is non-stop (in spite of which there’s still time for a spot of romance).

The settings are fairly impressive, and the action sequences are executed with considerable enthusiasm. People are constantly being captured and tied up and subjected to hideous tortures. At one stage a young Turkish woman is subjected to that most feared of all Viking tortures. Yes, the Trampoline of Death. The scene where a Turkish captive is suspended by her pigtails over a pit filled with venomous snakes is also memorable. This movie is positively bursting with energy. And there’s an actual Viking longship, in the traditional Viking colours of canary yellow with bright blue trim and fire-engine red oars. These are very colourful Vikings.

The acting is pure B-movie, but it gets the job done. Director Mehmet Aslan understands that the secret to a good adventure/exploitation movie is to keep things moving, and his sense of pacing is admirable. It’s pleasing to note that the heroines are brave and feisty, abs frequently they’re the ones getting Tarkan out of a jam. Lotus (the evil Chinese lady) is a classic movie villain - diabolically clever, beautiful, and possessed of equal measures of cruelty and sexual perversity. When she has Tarkan strung up over a bottomless pit and is slowly cutting the ropes holding him up by throwing knives at them, she decides this game would be even more fun if she took her clothes off so she could taunt poor old Tarkan with her evil beauty. This movie is just so much fun!

Mondo Macabro include an apology for the poor quality of the source materials used for this DVD. I have no idea why. Tarkan versus the Vikings looks absolutely splendid - the picture is quite crisp, the colours are vivid, the audio is perfectly acceptable. Given that the other movie included in the set is every bit as entertaining as this one, and there are the usual great Mondo Macabro extras giving us a potted history of Turkish pop cinema, this set is insanely good value and is an absolute must-buy for every self-respecting cult movie fan.

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