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Erik The Conqueror
Special Edition, 2-Disc Special Edition
DVD + Blu-ray
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In 1961, director Mario Bava (Rabid Dogs, Kill Baby Kill) turned his hand to the historical adventure genre, capitalizing on the recent success of 1958 s Kirk Douglas vehicle The Vikings. The result was a colorful, swashbuckling epic of treachery, heroism and forbidden love: Erik the Conqueror.
In 786 AD, the invading Viking forces are repelled from the shores of England, leaving behind a young boy Erik, son of the slain Viking king. Years later, Erik (George Ardisson, Juliet of the Spirits), raised by the English queen as her own, becomes Duke of Helford, while across the sea, his brother Eron (Cameron Mitchell, Blood and Black Lace) assumes leadership of the Viking horde and sets his sights on conquering England once again, setting the two estranged brothers on a collision course that will determine the fates of their respective kingdoms...
Featuring a bombastic score by frequent collaborator Roberto Nicolosi (Black Sunday) and memorably co-starring the stunning Kessler twins (Sodom and Gomorrah), Erik the Conqueror showcases Bava s immense talent for creating awe-inspiring spectacle with limited resources. Now restored in high definition for the first time, Arrow Video is proud to present this cult classic in all its original splendor.
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The film is directed by Mario Bava, who is best known for his horror movies. Made in 1961 to capitalize on the American film “The Vikings” (1958), starring Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis, “Erik the Conqueror” uses the same theme of sibling rivalry and confrontation. “Erik…” was made when Italian action sword-and-sandal epics inundated American movie screens. With more violence than was then typical in American films, “Erik…” uses its theme as a basis for lots of action and swordplay.
Color on the Arrow release is far more vivid than in previous releases. Bonus materials on the 2-disc widescreen Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack include new audio commentary by Tim Lucas, author of Mario Bava - All the Colors of the Dark; audio interview with star Cameron Mitchell, conducted by Tim Lucas; a comparison between “Erik the Conqueror” and “The Vikings;” original ending; and reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork.
The film is reminiscent of the American film THE VIKINGS (1958), borrowing its princes-separated-at-birth theme and spicing it up by adding a pair of beautiful twin sisters/Vestal Virgins (were there really Vestal Virgins in Scandinavia?).
The set's DVD transfer is nearly as gorgeous as that of the Blu-ray. Both discs have an array of supplements, such as an updated Tim Lucas audio commentary track, an hour-long audio interview with star Cameron Mitchell, and an eleven minute visual comparison of ERIK THE CONQUEROR and THE VIKINGS. I hope this excellent release will be followed by other peplum classics on disc.
Director Mario Bava was a man who had one of the best concepts of visualization when it came to cinematography. The images he places on the screen are interesting and captivating. That becomes obvious in this movie, a remake of sorts of the film THE VIKINGS. While I loved that original film I found much to enjoy in this one as well.
In 786 AD a Viking king Harald lands on the shores of England willing to make peace with the English, a country he and his kin have plundered for years in the North Sea. King Loter is willing to agree to terms and sends Sir Rutford to negotiate the peace. Instead, Rutford ceases the opportunity to take out the Vikings with an ambush, killing the king leaving only a few to escape. He also uses them as a patsy when he has one of his men kill Loter as well.
Some of the Vikings survive. Among those still alive are the Harald’s two sons Eron and Erik. Eron is rescued and returned home while Erik is saved by the Queen and raised as her own. Both are raised differently with two opposing views of the world based on their environments.
Twenty years pass and the Vikings are now led by Eron (Cameron Mitchell). Once again they set out to plunder the English coastline and seek vengeance for the treachery of the past. Erik has been placed in charge of the English fleet and sets out to confront them, not realizing that Rutford has planted one of his own men onboard to ensure Erik never makes it back. The unknowing brothers battle and Erik is thought lost at sea only to wash ashore on the beaches of the Viking land.
Rutford offers the Queen his hand in marriage which she refuses realizing how treacherous he is. Rebuffed he offers his obedience to Enron and becomes his ally instead.
We know that eventually the two brothers will face off against one another and that a winner will be determined. If not something else will interfere with their reunion. Rutford will have to pay for his actions. And somehow, the Vikings and the English will have to settle their differences. It is the journey to these things that makes this movie both interesting and entertaining to watch.
Growing up in the sixties the sword and sandal movies as they were called were a staple of my
TV movie diet. They showed every week on the local VHS channel, everything from Hercules to his many sons to Samson and more. Watching them now I’m surprised how much I enjoyed them but still find something in them. Somehow this movie evaded me back then. Fortunately I made up for it with this release.
The acting here isn’t nearly as broad as I’ve seen it in other Italian movies in this genre. Make no mistake, they were the leaders in this sort of film back then. Here the acting is more subdued when needed and widely open in other scenes as called for. Mitchell, an actor mostly associated with the TV western HIGH CHAPPARAL, comes off nicely here. But it is the visual stylings of Bava that take center stage. The movie might not be Oscar worthy but it does offer solid storytelling that holds your interest throughout.
I’ve seen a number of these movies and never have I seen someone capture such colorful and fantastic shots. Bava used brightly colored lights in many of his movies and that usage of light is on display here in scenes taking place in the Vikings main building. He also does an amazing job capturing shorelines, horizons and more. Many of those images would make great pictures to be placed on the wall they are so rich and well done.
Once again Arrow Video has taken what was once a washed out scratched up mess and turned it into a gorgeous presentation. It’s a beautiful 2k 1080p hi def transfer and it shows. Extras include a new audio commentary track by Tim Lucas the author of MARIO BAVA ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK, GLI IMITATORI a comparison between this film and its unacknowledged source THE VIKINGS, the original ending and a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys. I will continue to sing the praises of Arrow Video as long as their output remains as top of the line as this one proves. If you enjoyed the film in the past then by all means pick up this edition. It will be like seeing the film as you’ve never had the chance before.