The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent (1958)

Released on a double bill with The Astonishing She-Monster, this Roger Corman-directed epic was the result of a pitch by a special effects company, believe it or not.

Corman was approached by special effects experts Irving Block (who wrote Forbidden Planet) and Jack Rabin (whose credits include everything from the effects for The Night of the Hunter to Humanoids from the DeepThe NorsemanDeathsport and the TV pilot for The Adventures of Superpup), with the duo making an oral presentation that won him over. Block and Rabin agreed to work for a small fee in exchange for a cut of the profits, with American-International Pictures putting up the financing.

With 1958’s The Vikings in theaters, Corman wanted to get this one out fast and cash in. That said, it was a lot of work, with nearly seventy camera set-ups a day. And the shooting was dangerous, too, with actors nearly drowning, almost riding horses off the cliffs of Bronson’s Canyon and getting hurt.

In the article “Wasps! Vikings! Sea Serpents!” in Fangoria 52, actor Richard Devon said that Viking Women was “a disastrous film to work on. It was as if Roger was really trying to shorten his skimpy shooting schedules even more than before. He didn’t waste a frame. Nor did he spare anyone’s feelings on the set. He was an absolute demon.”

It’s the tale of the Viking women — of course — who head out to rescue their missing men, led by Desir (Abby Dalton, Rock All Night; she replaced Kipp Hamilton*, who held out for more money).

Their husbands, brothers and sons have been taken by Stark (Devon) of the Grimaults and made to work in the mines. There’s also the matter of dealing with a sea serpent, which is dealt with thanks to the heroic sacrifice of Vedric (Brad Jackson, once billed as “The World’s Youngest Magician” whose career faded due to his obsession with reincarnation and the occult).

Also appearing are Susan Cabot (who was in plenty of Corman’s films, such as The Wasp Woman and War of the Satellites), June Kenney (the good girl gone bad in movies such as Sorority Girl and Teenage Doll), Betsy Jones-Moreland (who in one Corman movie literally played the Last Woman on Earth), Pittsburgh native Jonathan Haze (The Little Shop of Horrors), Playboy February 1957 Playmate of the Month Sally Todd (Frankenstein’s Daughter) and Gary Conway (who was on TV’s Lands of the Giants). Also, if you liked the dogs in Teenage Cave Man, they’re in this movie too.

In his book, How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime, Corman would confess that he learned “an important lesson from this movie: don’t fall for a sophisticated sales job about elaborate special effects.”

He went on to say, “I realized I had been had. (Block and Rabin) had simply promised something they could not deliver. A great sales pitch had distorted my judgment and AIPs.”

*Kipp is, of course, the singer who performs “The Words Get Stuck in My Throat” in War of the Gargantuas, a former Miss Optometry and the sister-in-law of Carol Burnett.

You can watch this on Tubi.

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