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Though not officially a Mario Bava film, as it turned out, a good deal of the battle sequences included in this one comprise of footage he had shot for the previous year’s peplum, ERIK THE CONQUEROR (1961) – I rewatched that film the very next day, and it was quite amusing to experience those intermittently duplicated moments!
Anyway, the movie under review itself is a typically modest offering – frankly not much worse than Bava’s own efforts in the genre (admittedly, not the horror maestro’s forte) and, in fact, rather livelier, too! It was, however, interesting to see Cameron Mitchell (the star of ERIK THE CONQUEROR and another Bava peplum I’ve just re-acquainted myself with, KNIVES OF THE AVENGER ) tackling the role of the villain this time around!
The hero is played by peplum stalwart Ettore Manni and Mitchell is flanked in the dastardly stakes by two other Bava alumni – Paul Muller from I VAMPIRI (1957) and Piero Lulli from KILL, BABY…KILL! (1966) – to say nothing of the fact that the film was composed by Roberto Nicolosi and produced by Galatea (both of whom were also behind ERIK THE CONQUEROR and other Bava pictures)…and, if I’m not mistaken the score for ATTACK OF THE NORMANS pilfered a few themes from the earlier film as well!
The movie follows the typical peplum/Viking formula of sea battles, court intrigues (including usurped thrones), treason, torture, romantic jealousy, etc. and while certainly no classic, it emerges as a quite pleasant diversion nonetheless, especially for hardened fans of the genre like myself – not to mention the fact that Malta (the island I hail from) was, all those years ago, itself under Norman rule!
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