Thursday, November 15, 2012

Tarkan vs. The Vikings (1971)

I love Mondo Macabro. For those not in the know, they are a label that gives DVD releases to some of the strangest films from around the world. Some of them are just plain awesome ("Mill of the Stone Woman" and "Alucarda") some are just plain bad ("Countess Perverse" and  "Clonus") and then there are those that are bad and awesome at the same time. Films like today's entry, "Tarkan vs. The Vikings", which truly must be seen to be believed. Think a "sword and sorcery" movie minus the sorcery and filled with bizarre but indelible moments.

I'm going to try and explain the plot of this movie, but bare with me because damn is it going to be hard. Tarkan (whose a Turkish pop hero made famous by comic books, and is played by Kartal Tibet) is a Hun whose people have been ravished and the princess kidnapped by ruthless vikings in really colorful outfits. I mean like psychedelic colorful.


Anyways, Tarkan and his canine sidekick Kurt (who makes many barking, whining and growling noises yet rarely moves his mouth) are going to rescue the princess, as well as avenge the attack on his people and the death of his other dog, who was also named Kurt. Good to see he thought things through while naming his dogs. However, he's got more than just the vikings to deal with as Chinese warrior girl Lotus (Seher Seniz-so yes, there are no actual Asian actors here) has made a pact with the vikings. Oh, and they sacrifice women to an octopus, which looks like this



The opening fight scene itself pretty much sets the tone, though in some cases not the one they were hoping for. It's pretty violent stuff, with plenty of beheading, impalement and even kids being killed. However, it's all done with swords and spears that are clearly plastic or made out of cardboard, and by vikings in technicolor outfits. Also, a dog attacking someone that is obviously someone throwing the poor thing at said person.


From then on, things get even stranger. There's loads of continuity problems (one of the main characters has water splashed in their direction, yet in the next frame they are completely dry), a score that is blatantly plagiarist (even "borrowing" from the theme from "2001: A Space Odyssey") and tons of random fights, acts of violence and even some brief nudity. Yep, this is all goofy as hell, but it's never boring. That's mostly because you get a feeling that everything here is meant to be fun instead of nasty, and the whole thing is so delirious and out there that you can't help but join in on the ride.

Plus, it's hard not to appreciate what those involved were aiming for. Yes, they didn't have the budget Hollywood movies had, but who cares? They made a movie, and at the end of the day, it didn't bore me at all and entertained me in spite of (and because of) it's obvious flaws. To pick on a movie like this is like yelling at a wounded puppy. It might be injured because of it's own stupidity, but you can't hate it no matter what.

For those with a taste for the truly out there, "Tarkan" is a blast. If anything, it's a shame that so many Turkish genre films have gone on to be forgotten about or even destroyed. It's such a strange but intriguing world, and it's always nice to see what these kinds of movies are like from a different cultural perspective.

Rating: 7/10

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