Tarkan Viking Kanı (1971)

Tarkan and the Vikings is the fifth in the series of seven films that tell the story of Tarkan, who seems at continual war with Vikings. Created by Sezgin Burak in 1967, Tarkan is rare in Turkish cinema in that he is not a remake, a remix or a rip-off. Instead, the Hunnish warrior and his wolf companion Kurt appear in their own movies which only slightly echo the Italian sword and sandal films, but are reflected through the low budget and high concept world of Turkish cinema.

The Vikings are, of course, beyond evil. They sacrifice virgins and worship an octopus god who — mercifully — emerges from the deep to menace our hero. Kartal Tibet would play Tarkan in five movies and he’s the exact action hero you want in this kaleidoscopic 74-minute blast directly to your brain. The villains do more than just shoot him in the back twice. They kill his dog. He swears to his dog’s son that he will have his horrible and bloody revenge. And oh yes — he will.

This wouldn’t be a Turkish film without the pilfered music, here being Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra” and at least one John Barry song. Seriously, I think Turkish filmmakers liked Barry more than even their British counterparts!

Eva Bender shows up in three of the Tarkan films and you’ll wish that she was in every movie that you’ve ever seen. While she plays the evil Gosha in Tarkan and the Golden Medallion and Tarkan and the Silver Saddle, here she’s Ursula, the leader of the rebellion against the Vikings.

Much like all Turkish films, the bad guys are quite literally the worst bad people you’ve ever seen with no redeeming qualities. They feed people to their pet hawks, they throw innocent women onto trampolines (yes, really) and literally throw kids in the air and slice at them with axes (double yes, really). Lotus (Seher Seniz) is a dragon lady so sinister that she does a striptease belly dance with throwing knives as our hero hangs perilously over a pit of snakes. Just writing about this scene makes me want to go back and watch this all over again.

You will learn much from this piece of art, but most importantly, you will walk away learning that Vikings chose to wear lots of pinks and purples.

You can download this from the Internet Archive or watch it on YouTube.

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