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This is an appalling film, and worth watching for that very reason. You'll struggle to buy a copy, and it probably isn't worth it, but in the UK we do get the occasional opportunity to see it on telly, so take them. This is a film with more ham than a Tesco deli counter, and Lee Majors, well, his own agent once described him as a 'somewhat limited actor'. The language - see my title, but to fully appreciate you'll have to hear the intonation in the movie itself, think Conan the Barbarian voiceovers - and the mock ritual and rite of Vikingness is hugely entertaining. Not unlike the sort of heavy metal that appeals to teenagers. Don't worry about history, it's irrelevant to this film - we all know the vikings must have been pretty sophisticated people, you'd have to be to conduct your trade from Teheran to St. Johns! And their business was arms and slaves, so they knew how to look after themselves. And this is not a film about sophisticated people. But the absolute star of this film is Jack Elam as the Death Dreamer, the wizard. The stereotypical shaman, Dr Samedi meets Don Juan meets Papa Lazarou. Honestly, folks, this movie is a hoot, but it is utter rubbish. If you want a quality viking flick, although again with questionable historical accuracy, go for The Vikings, with Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis and a brilliant Ernest Borgnine. At least you'll care about the characters.
I am sitting at home watching THE NORSEMAN on TV, trying to pick my incredulous chin up off the floor. This movie must be seen by film students so they can learn everything NOT to do in making a movie. For example: Lee Majors (THORVALD) and the boy playing his Norse son deliver arch dialog in southern American accents...The Caucasian looking Indians with perfect Herbal Essence hairstyles...and perfect teeth..(that tribe must have a really good dental plan) Lee Majors sports a late 1970's mustache and hair style...He probably was on hiatus from a series and refused to restyle his hair...The Max Factor warpaint on the Indians' faces...and the lack of "Light Egyptian" on their bodies...Irish actress, Kathleen Freeman, as an old Indian woman... The "ultra realistic" Canadian location (NOT!), complete with palm trees and Spanish Moss... How did they get the money to make this thing? Where can I get some for my films??? This film is like a train wreck....painful to watch but absolutely riveting in its awfulness. The only area that deserves praise is the cinematography...the exteriors look pretty good... the cinematographer must have picked up the gig to pay for a fishing expedition or a vacation to Hawaii... In the words of many a great Norseman, .....Oy Vey!!!
They could have at least tried to make this funnier if they weren't going to make it competently. But then this IS a Charles B. Pierce film, and a 'Fawcett-Majors Presentation' featuring Pierce's son, little Chuck, and starring Lee Majors as Thorvald. You can't expect much with that pedigree, but we're in John Wayne 'The Conqueror' territory here. C'mon now, Lee Majors as a viking? What were they thinking? And seeing as it stars the erstwhile Six-Million-Dollar Man, it pays homage to that series by including plenty of slow-mo action scenes. All you need is the now classic ditta-ditta-ditta electronic sound effects to go with the slow-mo and you've got a laugh riot. But there is plenty to laugh at, including Majors' 70's porno-style moustache (no beard like everyone else, he's THE STAR, but I suppose he was willing to cover his upper lip as a concession to history). Then there is Jack Elam as a norse sorceror (guess Slim Pickens wasn't available) and Deacon Jones as a black viking (Spike Lee would approve, although historians might disagree). For those outside the U.S., Jones was a football player, and the filmmakers, out of fairness, also cast a white ex-football player (Fred Biletnikoff) as a fellow norseman. There is also a pretty girl along for the ride in Susie Coehlo, although she spends too much time with a pair of blinded norsemen who sport some of the most unfortunate hairpieces you've ever witnessed. Thankfully for Cornel Wilde, he is so buried in hair that he is virtually unrecognizable and therefore, in one sense, he's not really in this movie. Unfortunately, Lee Majors IS in this movie, and worst of all, is the star. It's hard to tell which is more wooden, his ship or his acting. Yep, it's his acting. In fact, it's probably an inside game for casting agents to challenge each other to find a more wooden star than Majors. He's the champ! He could hire himself out as a Termite Whisperer. Needless to say, this junk is best avoided. You've been warned.
A treasure trove of anachronism, continuity errors and baaaaaaaaaad acting. So bad it's wonderful. Who knew there were black vikings, or that vikings wore wristwatches? A genuine treat. You'll laugh your butt off.
Isn't always sad to rediscover a memory from your childhood that you
treasured greatly, but then finding it as an adult, and not being able to
figure out how in the hell you possibly could have liked it in the first
place. That's how I felt upon seeing this movie a while back. I can recall
vividly when I went and saw this movie when I was ten, and my friends and
being blown away by it. In fact I saw it three times in one week. (no lie)
When I saw it last, I pondered how could I not have seen the FATAL
miscasting of Lee Majors. How I overlooked the black(!?) viking. Why did I
not conceive that the plot for this was so laughably stupid (Vikings vs.
American Indians). Sigh, it's a sad fact of life, the smarter you get, the
DUMBER you realize you were.
A bunch of cowboy actors playing viking. Poorly. Horrible dialog that a 6th grader could have written. Aromor is made of painted plastic and aluminum. You can even hear the sound of aluminum banging together in the fighting. The fighting also looks like staging for a 6th grade play. Vikings did not wear horned helmets by the way much less plastic ones. The white people playing Indians are dressed in loin cloths and as plains Indians. Quite strange and probably very cold for people who are supposed to be in NE Canada and Nova Scotia. Of course, the palms foliage is just as fitting. And to top it off Deacon Jones, a black man, is one of the vikings. It is insulting to everyone involved.
Beyond the bad monologue, the horrible dialog and craptastic hair, the cracker ass native Americans, plastic armor and the black viking...wtf? I did however find it amazing that this movie did have something in common with the star wars trilogy. As Jedi dueling are obliged to fall into bottomless pits if there are any near by, so are all warriors in this crapfest obliged to fall into water if it is within 200 yards. Oh..and blind people are wicked forest runners as long as they're led by rope. Oh wait...there's more....apparently Norse armor also could act as a emergency flotation device..I could go on and on....buts there's no point..even on percocet this movie is bad. The only thing that could have helped this mind numbing piece of garbage is a guest appearance by Lopan...
Writer/director Charles B. Pierce deceased a couple of months a ago at age 71. He may not have been the greatest cinematic genius who ever lived, but personally I really liked him. Pierce worked as a set decorator for multiple great movies and almost single-handedly made (wrote, produced & directed) a couple of cool modest classics in the horror genre, like "The Legend of Boggy Creek", "The Town that Dreaded Sundown" and "The Evictors". Particularly the latter two are terrific but sadly underrated gems with a raw atmosphere and great suspense. Rather than re-watching those classics in his honor, which is what we should have done instead, my mate and I watched something "different" from Charles B. Pierce A Viking movie with a truly cool-looking VHS cover and starring Lee "Six Million Dollar Man" Majors! How bad can it be? Well, "The Norseman" is tremendously bad, unfortunately, and that's a real shame because the basic premise showed so much potential. Charles B. Pierce's script departs from the existing theory that the Norsemen already reached the northern American shores approximately five hundred years before Christopher Columbus did (they named it Wineland) and came into violent conflict with the aboriginals. The idea of bloody battles and carnage between Vikings and Native Americans sounds awesome, but this film is a boring and ludicrous mess. A boat full of Norsemen led by the mighty Thorvald (Lee Majors I've never seen a cleaner and more properly shaved Viking) head towards America in search for their king Eurich, who went missing during a previous conquering trip. The king and several of his traveling companions were indeed captured by the Native Americans, and they are well prepared for any possible next encounters with intruders. Charles B. Pierce's screenplay for "The Norseman" is completely inaccurate and downright dumb! The Vikings supposedly were the most barbaric warriors in our history books, but here they behave like a bunch of terrified sissies. They drivel about courageous warfare and Northern Gods, but they accomplish absolutely nothing. In fact, it are the Native Americans that behave like the Norsemen ought to! They are the ones who enslaved and even blinded their Viking prisoners. The fight sequences are laughably weak and bloodless. The acting performances are all wooden and uninspired. The only half-decent performance comes from Jack Elam as the Death Dreamer. He's some kind of wizard who forewarns the Norsemen about upcoming dangers. The Vikings claim that nobody has ever seen his face, even though he walks around with his bearded face exposed the entire time. That, along with the fact there apparently existed black Vikings, is the low point of "The Norseman". "The Town that Dreaded Sundown" and "The Evictors" come with my highest possible recommendation, but play stay far away from this Charles B. Pierce turkey!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Norseman is about as historically accurate as Abe Lincoln defeating
the Nazis while riding a T-Rex. Charles B. Pierce's take on the Vikings
landing on an 11th century North America casts Lee Majors as six
million dollar norseman, or as he insists on pronouncing it norzeman,
Thorvald who takes his crew on a perilous quest to find out why his
father and his crew never returned from a far away land. If he fails
will the crew make him the fall guy? Sorry couldn't resist. After
landing in the Tampa/St. Pete neighborhood and mistaking it for
Newfoundland (happens all the time) Thorvald and his crew of mixed bag
warriors including two NFL hall of famers in Deacon Jones and Fred
Biletnikoff just so happen to land in not only the same spot as the
first crew but find the very Caucasian looking native Americans who
imprisoned them. What luck! A startling number of these natives are
overweight giving credence that maybe it wasn't wars or European
diseases that wiped out the Indians rather massive heart failures.
After consulting the ridiculous wizard that no one knows what his face
looks like except for the fact that in every scene you can clearly see
Jack Elam's googly-eyed mug, the vikings go out in search of where the
natives are holding the remaining survivors. With the help of a young
female squaw who's outfit is more adequate for lap dances rather than
rain, Thorvald and his crew fight the massive hordes of Indians, save
the old man, and high tail it back north minus a few brave souls that
lost their lives thanks to the dreaded arrow to the rear end.
Not surprisingly Lee Majors is about as convincing a Viking as Deacon Jones is. With his cheesy mustache and helmet that looks like an accessory for a Gothic S&M outfit, Majors' dry line-reading and lifeless performance had me rooting for the "badguys". It's amazing how advanced the Vikings pulley technology seems as they hoisted the sails for the great getaway. At this point in the film I was half hoping that they all boarded a 727 and flew home since believability went out the door as soon as Florida was mistaken for Canada. The film uses the same song over and over to the point where a Viking can't take a dump in the river without it blasting in the background. This is a hard film to find and one that rarely gets mentioned with any other of Charles B. Pierce's works. Little wonder why but nonetheless worthy of viewing if you can track this down just to see probably the most absurdly hokey Viking movie ever made.
Did you know it took FIVE men to edit this film? I don't think I've ever seen any other film with more than two, possibly three, credited editors. It's not surprising, though, considering what they had to work with. Take a wooden Lee Majors as the Six Million Dollar Norseman. Add in an asinine plot about a Viking vs. Native American war. Thicken and stir with the producer's son in a vanity role as a young Viking with all the acting ability of a lamppost, and sprinkle with Deacon Jones playing a black (yes, as in of African extract!!) Viking who got picked up on an earlier longboat jaunt. The result is surely one of the ten worst films ever to get a theatrical release, and that is no easy accomplishment. Your jaw will hang open in horror for the full 97 minute running time.
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