Saturday, May 29, 2010

Canon MST3K Review: The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent

I know what you must be thinking, my God, that's a really long title. Not many movies have titles that are 17 words long, and for good reason. By the time you finish saying the name of this movie, the film is half over. This film is directed by Roger Corman, and it was the ninth film he directed . . . in the year 1957. Needless to say, Corman was probably too exhausted to care much about this movie. Corman's an interesting character, as he's served as a producer of nearly 400 movies, most of which are low budget movies like this one, Teenage Caveman, and his most recent film, Dinoshark. As a director, Corman's reputation is closer to Ed Wood's than it is to Scorsese's, so I kind of knew what to expect here. This episode of Mystery Science Theatre also included a short video made in the 1950s about the value of a home economics education. A few notes on this episode.

- All of the skits in between scenes in the movie dealt with Joel's love of waffles. The robots were also programmed by Joel to love waffles as much as he does. Crow even dress up as a character named "Willy the Waffle" who credited waffles for the end of the Cold War, among other things. Why they decided to go in this direction, I'll never know, but it did make me really want waffles, to the point where I paused the movie to heat up some frozen waffles and eat them.
- The short, "The Home Economics Story", is a film made by Iowa State University to encourage high school girls to enroll in their Home Economics program. Not only can you get an education and possibly a career as a chef or interior designed or a teacher, but more importantly, you can learn the proper skills to keep your man happy. At least that's what the film's message is. A mixed message I admit, but it was the fifties. This film makes Home Economics look as interesting as watching paint dry. The girls try to act excited, but their not nearly skilled enough actors to pull this off. Also, the narrator talks of "Food buymanship", which makes me wonder, is buymanship even a word?
- The movie with the long title is actually quite short, 66 minutes long to be exact. However, considering all the walking sequences and scenes where nothing happens that are in the film, it could have been shortened another 20 minutes and gotten the whole story across.
- The movie starts with the Viking women of some village debating whether or not they should go after their men, who have been out on some expedition for a while. Apparently, all the Viking women are young, blond, and pretty, with the exception of the high priestess, who's brunette and therefore, must be evil. The women vote yes or no by chucking spears into trees. Most of them vote yes and off they go. Oh, and there's some guy named Ottar who was left behind for some reason. The women don't want him to go, but he sneaks on anyway.
- After a lot of nothing happens, the sea serpent appears. It's a cheesy effect, but it's not the worst monster in a b-movie I've ever seen. The serpent doesn't actually eat anybody, he just kind of thrashes around causing tremendous waves. A convergent lighting strike breaks apart the women's boat and the women (and Ottar) float around until they wake up in morning on the shore of some beach, where they are captured by a bunch of primitive looking men with swords. One man has a whip, and he takes great pleasure and whipping Ottar, whipping him at random intervals during their march back to headquarters.
- Once there, the Viking women and their manservant are led to the king, a man named Stark who has seemingly dressed up in an assortment of hand-me-down left behind by better kings. He's got a ridiculous fur coat that makes him look like a shaggy dog. Worse off, he introduces his son, who's an annoying, effeminate little man that hates women and basically acts like an entitled little snot. You instantly root for him to meet a tragic fate in this film. That nearly happens on a boar hunt where the little pissant falls off his horse and is nearly mauled by a boar, but unfortunately the leader of the women, Desir, saves his pathetic life by spearing the boar. The prince, in gratitude, whines about being saved by a woman, which makes the viewing audience root for a quick spear through the gut from Desir. But no, Desir instead agrees to make it look as if the prince did it in exchange for  some information about some Vikings that are enslaved here. That plot point never actually goes anywhere, so it's a mystery why they included that sequence in the first place.
- Eventually, I guess the King gets bored and decides to show the other Vikings he's captured, and by golly, it's the same men the women were looking for. These Vikings are not the big, hairy, grizzled type of men you might expect, but instead they are all blond, buff guys without any body hair. They look more like a troupe of male dancers than they do vikings. Desir meets up with her man, the chief Vedric, who in spite of being a chief, seems to display the intelligence of a moose and the leadership qualities of a pair of socks. The two hug, which angers high priestess Enger. The King orders all the reunited viking couples to break it up, and puts the women in a separate room in his lair.
- After the women are improsend, one of them escapes through a rather wide window to rescue the men. However, during a fight between the viking women and some very handsy guards, Enger escapes to warn King Stark of the planned escape. Why, you ask? Because Enger wants Vedric the dummy to herself and Desir out of the picture. Enger makes some sort of sexual promise to the King in exchange for the death of Desir, and goes to visit Vedric in the slave quarters. Enger wants Vedric and her to run away back home together, but Vedric in his own dull way refuses. Enger than goes back to King Stark and requests for the death of both Desir and Vedric. Will the two avoid certain death? Will Enger regret her betrayal? And will the sea serpent make another appearance? To find out, watch the movie.

Overall, it doesn't surprise me to learn that this film was completed in 10 days. The plot is rather elementary, the acting is subpar, and the film hardly fleshes out the motives of many of the characters, excluding a couple of them. The vikings come off as a bunch of wusses, the titular Sea Serpent is barely a factor in the movie (until the end, but I won't reveal how), and there's a bunch of walking montages where nothing happens thrown in the movie. Even watching it as an MST3K episode, it was just dull. I'll give the movie a 2.5 out of 10, the episode a 5.5 out of 10, and the riffing on the Home Economics film a 8.7 out of 10. If I were you, I would skip the movie and just watch Joel and the 'bots riff on the short instead. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any ideas for future posts on the Canon Review, feel free to let me know either by e-mail at, bl leaving it in the comments section, or any other way you can think of.

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