Bonus Reviews: Reptilicus (1961) and The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent (1957)
Horror Bulletin Bonus for Week 174
For this week’s bonus films, we’ll look two very different films: The Danish-made Kaiju film "Reptilicus" and the astoundingly cringeworthy "The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent" from 1957
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• Directed by Poul Bang, Sidney W. Pink
• Written by Sidney W. Pink, Ib Melchoir
• Stars Bent Mejding, Asbjorn Andersen, Povl Woldike
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 22 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
It's a little long and dated with special effects that haven't held up over time. It was still kind of interesting since the technology and styles are all 60 years old, and the Danish setting is nice. Other than that, it's not a great one.
Somewhere in the forbidden tundra of the Lapland, high above the arctic circle, a group of miners are prospecting for copper. The miner looks at his drill and says, “It’s blood!” Credits Roll.
They find a leathery piece of skin and bones in their drill. The boss, Svend, calls in a paleontologist and starts taking photos. Drs. Martens and Dalby soon arrive, as does Hans Carlson, a newspaper reporter. They soon decide that there’s some large animal down there that wasn’t quite frozen. This one is a giant reptile of some sort. Mammoths and things are found frozen occasionally, but never a dinosaur; this is unique.
They take samples to Copenhagen, where we also meet Lisa and Karen Martens, the doctor’s daughters. Dr. Otto Martens arrives at the aquarium. He talks to Dr. Dalby about putting the bones together and reconstruct the creature. Sven from Lapland telegrams that he’s found more bones and is bringing them to them at the museum. The piece that Svend found was just the tip of a big lizard’s tail. The whole thing must have been 90 feet long or more.
Karen latches onto Svend but Lise likes him too. Mr. Petersen takes the job of guarding the creatures remains. It’s a dark and stormy night, and Dr. Dalby leaves the freezer door open, raising the temperature within. They find it completely defrosted in the morning. Lise notices that the dismembered tail is healing. It’s alive!
Two Americans, Miss Connie Miller and General Grayson arrive from the U.N. To observe. There’s a press statement later where Martens explains that the tail has doubled in size. He compares that various sea creatures can regenerate from a missing limb. He doesn’t know what its going to grow into, and one of the newspapermen suggests that they call it “Reptilicus.” Soon, the story is worldwide. Dr. Martens says they’re going to need a bigger tank.
Grayson and Miller go to town for some sightseeing, and we get to see some of Copenhagen. They see lots of things, and it all looks like fun, and we soon get a musical interlude.
It’s another dark and stormy night, and Dr. Dalby is at the lab alone again. The power and telephone goes out Dalby sends Petersen to bring the police. The lizard in the tank breaks out in the storm. Dr. Martens, his daughters, and General Grayson find the building deserted. The tracks lead down to the water and then disappear.
Grayson takes over and sets up a command post to deal with the situation. There’s soon a sighting, and the whole army converges on the spot. A farmer reports that it ate fourteen of his cows. They soon find it, and it’s really big. The army goes to work and shoots everything they have at it. It eats a civilian and then pukes up green slime all over the place. The tanks finally set it on fire and it runs back to the ocean. Ms. Miller warns that “in a little while, he’ll be as good as new.”
The navy tracks it down and uses depth charges against it. Miller suggests that if they blow it apart, they’ll end up with many of the things. The General orders the shelling to stop, but too late, as Reptilicus loses a leg. During the attack, Dr. Martens has a heart attack.
Weeks pass, and Svend tells Lise that this may all be his fault. Meanwhile, on the beach, the giant Reptilicus arises from the water and pukes green slime on beach goers. The army spots him again heading toward the city. They can’t bomb the city, and they can’t get close enough to use flamethrowers. The General decides that the only way to proceed is to lure it out into the countryside and use the heavier weapons against it there.
The General finally decides to use a bomb, but then Dr. Martens arrives and points out all that would do is blow it to bits and then their problem will multiply. The idea comes to the general that maybe they can knock it out with a drug. The load the drug into a rocket and shoot directly into the mouth of Reptilicus.
The monster passes out, and the soldiers cart it off. The general says, “It’s a good thing there are no more like him,” except we then shift to the missing leg at the bottom of the ocean; it’s moving.
This is the first, and so far, the only, Danish “giant monster” movie. The scenes in Copenhagen with the General and Ms Miller look like it’s straight out of the tourist guidebook. Overall, it’s a very standard giant-monster film, with the only unique element being the setting.
The monster is pretty awful, like a big rubber toy on strings. Supposedly, there were scenes of it flying that were removed because it was “unconvincing.” There’s lots of old military footage used as filler material. Back when this was released, it may have been a lot of fun, but in my modern eyes, it dragged on entirely too long.
The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent (1957)
• Directed by Roger Corman
• Written by Irving Block, Lawrence Louis Goldman
• Stars Abby Dalton, Susan Cabot, Brad Jackson
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 5 Minutes
• Watch it:
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
It’s not a complex story, but it’s entertaining and gets the job done. Not quite historically accurate looking, or sounding in their speech, and don’t look too closely at that monster. But it’s worth a watch.
We get an introduction to a Viking settlement, who lost all their men somewhere. After three years, the woman voted on whether or not to go looking for them. They want a sign, and then they see a big sailing ship in the clouds. It should be noted that all the Viking women are blonde, beautiful, fit, twenty-somethings in skimpy outfits, except for Enger, the “Dark Priestess.” who is also a beautiful, fit, twenty-something in a skimpy outfit. They also have perfect hair, makeup, and nails. We soon get a shipbuilding montage as the gang builds a boat and sets sail. Ottar, the only male, sneaks on board as a stowaway.
The next morning, they spot a sea serpent. No, it’s just a whale. Enger loosens a rope and the sail falls on Desir, the leader of the women. Desir nearly gets eaten by a shark, but then the monster of the vortex attacks the shark. Lightning strikes the ship and it burns, dumping everyone into the ocean.
The following morning, the characters wake up on a beach where they are immediately captured by a group of men on horseback. They are led to a castle, where the leader says they’ll make good sport. Almost immediately, they all go hunting.
Desir saves the leader’s son with a spear, and he’s a whiny twat, but he agrees to tell her more later. That night at the party, he tries to arm wrestle her in front of the crowd and she crushes him, much to the leader’s embarrassment. Ottar starts a fight, and he loses as well.
Desir finally runs into Vedric, the (former) male leader of their people, now a slave with the rest of the surviving men. The men and the women are soon separated. Enger and another girl both escape easily. The other girl frees Ottar and Vedric and the men. Stark, Senyan, and the other locals are waiting for them, and there’s a quick battle where the Vikings are rounded up once again.
Enger and Stark talk later; she’s the one who alerted him of the others’ plans. She wants Stark to have Desir executed so she can have Vedric. She tries to talk Vedric into escaping with her, but he’s not interested. Stark grabs them both and ties them to stakes to burn them. He says one can choose to save themself, but neither one of them will do it.
Enger sees how pure their love is and regrets her wicked ways. She uses her magic to implore Thor to send a storm, and it works. The rain puts out the fires, and lightning kills Seyan.
Later, back at the castle at Seyan’s funeral, Stark orders that all the Vikings should be executed. There’s another battle, and they throw Seyan’s body and one of the Viking women into the funeral fire.
Enger leads the hunting party away from the heroes but ends up jumping off a cliff and dying. The others run to the beach and steal a ship to escape. Stark and his men follow in a second boat.
Then they all encounter the sea vortex and the monster. Vedric throws his sword at the monster, so it ignores them and attacks Stark instead. The Vikings escape!
The sea monster creature effects are pretty terrible, but good enough to get the point across. At one point, it’s clearly a hand puppet!
There’s lots of shots of people walking in the mountains here. It moves pretty quickly, but there’s really nothing at all surprising here. The characters are mostly all the same, the villains are villainous, and the monster is a silly contrivance to wrap up loose ends.
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