Erik The Viking: The Director's Son's Cut
Terry Jones' 1989 Nordic romp Erik The Viking was released in the United States in a disastrously received 100-minute version that was cut by 10 minutes for its British release. It's been cut by an additional 15 minutes by Terry's son Bill for the cheekily titled new DVD Erik The Viking: The Director's Son's Cut, a project sure to please/infuriate the film's small cult by offering a drastically shortened take on a film they already like. Alas, even at 79 minutes, the film still drags interminably. Perhaps a 15-minute cut somewhere down the line will finally correct the film's abundant pacing problems and the long, dry stretches between mild chuckles and modestly amusing gags.
A young Tim Robbins lends a daft, moon-faced vulnerability to the title role, as a Viking who tires of raping and pillaging, and dreams of a world without endless winters, sexual assault, and violent death around every corner. So he takes a hearty band of adventurers on an epic quest to the ends of the world in search of a magical horn, the gods, and a better life. What follows is a ramshackle, episodic, hit-or-miss series of skit-like misadventures featuring a giant fake-looking sea monster, a mysterious island full of offbeat pacifists, and Jones' old Monty Python buddy John Cleese as an evil warlord with the buttoned-down soul of a middle manager.
Some of the film's random silliness hits its target, most notably a deranged Japanese slave-master who torments his pale-skinned charges with racial insults, calling them "incomprehensible horizontal-eyed trouser-wearers" who have "never committed ritual suicide" in their lives. "How I abominate your milk-drinking and your lack of ancestor worship!" But mostly, Jones and company search desperately for laughs that never quite arrive; Jones' amiable but underwhelming Viking quest goes to the end of the world and over it without going anywhere particularly interesting. Then again, if current trends provide any indication, around 15 years from now, Jones should absolutely kill with Erik The Viking's smash-hit musical Broadway adaptation.
Key features: Standard-issue making-of featurettes and an affectionate, informative Terry Jones audio commentary.