THE VIKING QUEEN. (1971) A HAMMER FILM PRODUCTION DIRECTED BY DON CHAFFEY. STARRING CARITA JÄRVINEN AND DON MURRAY.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
I’m not crazy about this Hammer historical adventure film, even though it counts a number of excellent actors and actresses among its cast members. It’s set in the times of yore, when the Romans came over to England to conquer it like it had conquered so many other countries at the time. The Romans were the Nazi Germany of their era, lol.
Used to the balmier climate of Italy, however, the Romans were less than impressed with Old Britain and the rain and the cold and the wind and the mud. ‘Filthy bloody country!’ would therefore have been a frequently voiced insult of the time.
The CARRY ON film franchise referenced this period also, in their marvellous movie CARRY ON CLEO, in which Kenneth Connor and Jim Dale as Hengist Pod and Horsa respectively are British peasants.
They are living crudely in caves and mud huts and attempting to invent the wheel and other such prehistoric pursuits, when they are captured by the Romans and brought over to Rome to live as slaves. Hilarity obviously ensues, in what some critics deem to be the best film in the whole series. It’s certainly a most superior historical comedy.
THE VIKING QUEEN confuses the issue somewhat with its title, as there aren’t any Vikings as we know them (huge blonde bearded fearsome beasts from the Scandinavian countries who raped and pillaged wherever their extensive travels took them) in the film.
The titular Queen, however, Queen Salina, is said to be loosely based on Boadicea, the warrior queen (might this perhaps have been a better title for the film?) of the British Celtic Iceni tribe (a tribe of Ancient Britons; the history is quite complicated) who died nobly while fighting the invading Romans and thereby passed, splendidly and unhampered, into British folk legend.
Queen Salina, played by the gorgeous blonde Finnish fashion model Carita, who apparently twice turned down the chance to be a Bond girl, becomes the ruler of such a tribe of Ancient Britons when her beloved Pops, the King, pops his clogs. Her Pops pops his clogs, lol. Very amusing stuff, very amusing indeed.
At first, she attempts to rule side-by-side with the local conquering Roman forces, an arrangement which I would imagine was positively fraught with difficulties and conflicts of interest.
She even goes so far as to fall in love with the local Roman leader, the domineering and handsome Justinian. (PS, to ‘Roman’ up your name, simply add the suffix ‘ian’ to your own name; eg., Darrenian, Wayneian, Billian, Timothyian, Paulian, Garyian, Martinian, Jackian, etc.)
The Druids, who are used to dictating terms to the Ancient Britons, a deeply superstitious people, are not happy with the union, and neither are some of Justinian’s Romans, in particular Ocatavian, played by Hammer regular Andrew Keir (BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB, DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS, QUATERMASS AND THE PIT).
It’s not too long before the Ancient Britons, led by the brave and courageous (and bosomy) Queen Salina, and the Romans, headed by Justinian, Salina’s chisel-jawed lover, are at each others’ throats, both metaphorically and actually. The wet, muddy God-forsaken land both parties occupy will run red with the blood of both sides…
There are some terrific character actors in the film whose faces will be familiar to you, including Patrick Troughton (DR. WHO, SCARS OF DRACULA), Niall MacGinnis (NIGHT OF THE DEMON, ISLAND OF TERROR; remember the silicates???) and Percy Herbert (CARRY ON JACK, CARRY ON CLEO, CARRY ON COWBOY, ONE MILLION YEARS B.C.).
WeIl-known Irish character actress Anna Manahan (Roman Polanski’s MACBETH, unsuccessful Irish sitcom LEAVE IT TO MRS. O’BRIEN) has a small part in the film as a wailing villager terribly ill-used by the Romans.
As well as the acts of violence to exert their domination over the natives, the Romans taxed the bejeesus out of the poor folks as well. When they complained and said they couldn’t pay, the Romans just said, well, look at all the lovely roads we’re building for ye! To which one villager in the film replies, well, as I’ve lived in this shit-hole my whole life and I never go anywhere, your roads don’t exactly thrill me to my core. I like this guy, he tells it like it is!
I love Adrienne Corri (VAMPIRE CIRCUS, MADHOUSE starring Vincent Price) and the stunning, moist-lipped and doe-eyed Nicola Pagett (UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS) as Queen Salina’s older sister Beatrice and younger sibling Talia respectively.
Talia, in fact, seems to be the victim of an implied rape by naughty Andrew Keir as the rather vicious Octavian, in a scene that culminates with the sexy, bare-breasted public whipping of Queen Salina. (The bare breasts are implied, but it’s still good.) For shame, Octavian, and, erm, keep up the good work, there’s a good fellow…!
There’s plenty of long blonde hair, side-boob and back-boob, chariot-fighting and lovely skimpy dresses on display, if not a huge amount of actual history, but who cares when you have side-boob? Enjoy the movie, Hammer fans. It’s good, mucky fun.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.