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Ah, yes, let us now all take a moment and consider our debt to the fine
British gentlemen of Hammer Films, who kept the 60s and 70s full of luridly
colored historo-horror epics. Arguably, the essence of the Hammer style is
1,001 ways to nearly show naked breasts, and "The Viking Queen" is a high
example of such. The queen of the title seems to be based on Bodicea,
bloodthirsty queen of the Britons. Still, she is a Viking, even though she
is supposedly British, and queen of the Druids, even though they all
the Greek god Zeus. Whatever.
Said queen is played by "International Beauty" Carita in a style so rigid
that "wooden" doesn't even cover it. This was her only film--I believe she
was actually a hairstylist and did Jane Fonda's astonishing do's in the
Euro-Poe flick "Spirits of the Dead." Starring opposite her as her
hot-panted, eyeliner-ed Roman love interest is Don Murray, a long way from
Marilyn Monroe and the "Bus Stop."
Still, my favorite scene is where the British-Viking-Greek-Druids are sacrificing Romans to the fiery pit and there's this great awkward moment where some kind of assistant priest has to climb down from the big rock and stoke the fire for the next human sacrifice while all the other British-Viking-Greek-Druids stand waiting impatiently. I hate it when that happens.
"If any virgins are to be sacrificed, it'll be to us!" The Viking Queen is utter nonsense of the most enjoyable kind. There are no Vikings, although there are plenty of Romans and the odd wristwatch in this low-budget and wildly anachronistic attempt at a British peplum more or less inspired by Boudicca's ill-fated rebellion against the Roman Empire that makes full use of the Irish scenery, the Irish Army and Irish tax breaks. Hammer's latest disposable discovery Carita takes the lead with Don Murray playing the Roman-tic interest that would have been played by Rory Calhoun or Steve Reeves in an Italian film, their budding love thwarted as they find themselves on opposite sides thanks to plotting Roman officers (the ever-undervalued Andrew Keir) and devious druids (Donald Houston, dressed up like the Ghost of Christmas Past and hamming it up mightily) stirring things up. Period accuracy is less a factor than what costumes they have left over from other pictures, leading to some interesting sartorial clashes, while it's hard to take characters seriously when they're given names like Priam and Nigel, but the setting is just an excuse for the odd bit of sadism, torture, sacrifice and the odd skirmish en route to the inevitable tragic ending. The battle scenes are clumsily handled by director Don Chaffey, but the supporting cast are rather better than the script deserves Patrick Troughton, Niall MacGinnis (both surprisingly good), Adrienne Corri, Nicola Pagett, Percy Herbert and Wilfred Lawson among them it's nicely photographed by Zulu's Stephen Dade and it's more than passable brains-off entertainment.
During the height of the breasts-on-display, low-budget-epic era in the mid-60's, Murray got off at the wrong "Bus Stop" and wound up flailing around in this sword and sandal howler. He plays the Roman ruler of a Celtic tribe in ancient Britain. The Celtic King dies and appoints one of his three daughters to rule in his place (even though she is virtually a figurehead because of the Roman occupation.) He picks Carita and, because her mother was a Viking, she is dubbed The Viking Queen. (Apparently, she picked up her mother's accent along the way even though she was raised in Britain?) Murray and Carita have an affection for one another, but it is put to the test when he leaves to fight an enemy and his second-in-command starts wreaking havoc on her people. Finally, she's had enough and rises to battle the Romans even at the expense of her relationship with Murray. Carita is lovely (as any former model should be), but her acting inexperience shows much of the time. Murray couldn't possibly be more miscast and he and Carita have only adequate chemistry at best. They do have their own little mini-Ben Hur chariot race which ends up in a swamp, but their great love is not aptly demonstrated in the film. Corri and Pagett play her sisters. One looks old enough to be her mother and dabbles in the occult while the other has a tentative love affair with a local bruiser played by Caffrey. Houston is a raving, rabble-rousing Druid priest who, at times, makes Victor Buono look subtle. Actors like Keir and Troughton attempt to give real performances, but are done in by the pedestrian script. The ad copy for this film promised all sorts of wild events on screen, but most of them are presented in a more-than-tame manner. There is also a heavy dose of hilarious feminine pulchritude on display as scantily-clad ladies show off their bodies with strategic arm, pasty and hair placement to cover the naughtiest bits while they lie around stroking and petting the various men of the cast. One, in particular (referred to as the Nubian slave) is an obviously Caucasian girl in blackface with "Star Trek" make up who probably has more costume changes than the lead! It's not the dullest film ever made and has a few intriguing moments and some eye-catching scenery and costumes, but doesn't hold up as history, nor as titillation.
Although it has its quirks and is horribly mis-named (the Vikings entered the European scene 700 years after the movie's setting), this movie is a fun and engaging look at a much-overlooked historical stage. Some disbelief-suspension is required (the title character's accent, for example), but historical-fiction fans should find this film quite entertaining. While the costumes and characters (e.g. the sensational depiction of the Druids) might not be 100% believable, the plotline and settings more than make up for it. As a fan of both the old Hammer style and of Roman history, I was quite engrossed. I just wish they'd called it "Queen of the Celts"!
This was Hammer Films' sole foray into peplum territory: that it's not
typical material for this outfit is also borne by the fact that the
writing and producing credits aren't the usual Hammer stalwarts! Don
Chaffey, who handles the proceedings efficiently enough, was something
of an expert in the field - having directed Hammer's ONE MILLION YEARS,
B.C. (1966) as well as the Ray Harryhausen extravaganza JASON AND THE
Actually, the plot isn't all that different from that of THE LAST ROMAN (1968-9) which I watched recently: while the latter was low-brow and solemn but rather interesting, this is low-brow and silly but undeniably fun. Thankfully, there's intrigue (resulting in plenty of snarling), action and sadism - not forgetting the beautiful Irish locations - to keep one watching. Still, the lazy scripting is so obviously a mishmash of elements without any rhyme or reason that it somehow seems to think of Druids, Vikings and Greeks (all distinct in culture, geography and timeline) as one and the same people!!
With respect to the cast: Carita (whose only film this was) is actually not too bad in the title role - though necessities of plot and an inevitable romance with the enemy leader prevents her from donning armor and turn warrior before the last 20 minutes of the film proper!; Don Murray, saddled throughout with an unbecoming hair-do, tries to keep his dignity as best he can; Andrew Keir (as Murray's jealous aide and the true villain of the piece), Niall MacGinnis and Patrick Troughton actually give good performances; however, Donald Houston's hammy turn as the High Priest of the Druid community is wildly entertaining - and Wilfred Lawson is equally embarrassing as the doddering and moribund Viking King.
The Viking Queen is not an epic about the history of Romans in England. It is not a movie about romance (although there's a half-hearted attempt at it). This isn't, as the cover claims, a movie of action. Sit back, relax, and let your mind switch off. That's how to enjoy this film. In the inimitable style that brought us other pseudo-historical films, Hammer has ensured that our time and money is not wasted. It's certainly worth the wait to see the bladed chariot of death. Please don't try to praise this film, or even attempt to call it a classic. It's a joyful romp through the English countryside with an attractive blond, a wicked high priest, and a Machavellian second-in-command. Enjoy!
From the trying-for-sublime to the content-to-be-ridiculous. Carita, a
Finnish model-turned-actress, is surprisingly credible (well, not
really, but she's not as bad as one would expect) as window dressing
turned queen Salina of the Britons, trying to keep her people's
semi-sovereignty while romancing the Roman general Justinian (Don
Murray, pretty darn bland) who is supposed to be keeping her and her
people in check. What I liked about this most, apart from the nice
location photography and the presence of 2nd Dr. Who Patrick Troughton
as wise warrior Tristram was the slightly more complex than expected
political intrigue of the thing, with druids, merchants, British nobles
and Romans all playing off against each other. What I liked least were
the very cheap, poorly choreographed battle scenes where hardly a drop
of red paint is even to be seen, and the swords are so obviously dull
and plaster that you can't help laughing at times. Still, Carita is
cute and the pacing keeps one more interested than not.
DVD rental (double DVD with Vengeance of She watched previously).
When Don Chaffey directed the historically ludicrous and rather camp
dinosaur epic One Million Years B.C., he cleverly distracted viewers
from the film's sillier aspects through the use of stunning stop-motion
creature effects, and Racquel Welch's even more stunning chest. The
result was a completely daft, but thoroughly entertaining piece of
With The Viking Queen, an equally silly and factually inaccurate sword and sandal movie, he once again uses 'big breast diversion tactics'only this time with less successful results. Perhaps Chaffey should have thrown caution to the wind and chucked in a T-rex or two!
Beautiful, pillow-chested model Carina plays Celtic Queen (yes... Celtic!) Salina of the Iceni, who is forced to pick up a sword and fight the Romans, despite the fact that her lover, Justinian, is their leader. Carina sure is gorgeous, but even her breath-taking looks and marvellous physique are not enough to prevent one from noticing her wooden acting, the dreadful script, and plodding direction.
Stay the course, and you will be treated to a couple of unintentionally hilarious scenes (of which the lowering of Romans into a fiery pit was my favourite), a smattering of partial nudity (nipple tassles spoil the fun), and a silly battle with Boudicca-style warrior women in chariots (with blades on the wheels) attacking Romans with glee.
But even these enjoyably dumb moments cannot stop The Viking Queen from being a merely mediocre effort.
Boring costumer about the love affair of a Celtic queen and a Roman general while the Celts and Romans battle it out in ancient Britain. Despite the title, it doesn't have a damn thing to do with Vikings. The misleading title is the sort of thing I'd expect from Roger Corman, not Hammer. It's all very dull. Even the action is unexciting. The only times it got a reaction out of me were the times I laughed at the silly dialogue, particularly from Donald Houston's eccentric Druid priest. A fine cast of mostly British actors playing dress up. Finnish actress Carita plays the lead in her only starring role. She does a decent job. Of note, perhaps, to Doctor Who fans because this was the movie Patrick Troughton was filming when he got the offer to be the Doctor.
What an absolute mishmash of a historical film that Hammer inflicted
first on the British and then the world wide movie-going public with
The Viking Queen. But as in their horror films the accent was on blood
and gore as opposed to historical accuracy. And for a film called The
Viking Queen, Vikings don't even appear in this epic.
It is the dying wish of an ancient Briton king that his daughter share rulership with a nice Roman guy sent over to bring the enlightened ways of Rome to those uncivilized Celts. Don Murray is the Roman legion head and Carita in the second of her only two film is our Celtic princess. They love each other and have some ideas considerably ahead of their times, but too many vested interests on both sides get in the way.
On her side there's Donald Houston playing a Druid priest who keeps invoking the Greek King of the Gods Zeus. He's the best in the film, he has glorious part that calls for overacting, he knows this film is a Thanksgiving gobbler and goes full blast. With that full head of hair and beard that makes him look like Charlton Heston as Moses on steroids, Houston is light years away from the pretty youth on that South Sea Isle with Jean Simmons in The Blue Lagoon.
And among his crowd is his jealous second in command Andrew Keir who thinks there's only one way to deal with conquered people. Keir takes over while Murray's away on business and starts a war where most of the cast eventually is killed.
If you like Hammer films for their gore than you'll like The Viking Queen. But personally with references to Zeus and characters like Osiris from Egyptian culture and Priam who was the King of Troy this is one mess of a film and everyone connected with this knew it.
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