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I Coltelli del Vendicatore

Knives of the Avenger
Bladestorm / Viking Massacre

Italy 1965
produced by
Alfredo Leone for Sider Film
directed by Mario Bava
starring Cameron Mitchell, Fausto Tozzi (as Frank Ross), Elissa Pichelli (as Lisa Wagner), Giacomo Rossi-Stuart (as Jack Stuart), Luciano Pollentin (as Louis Pollentin), Amedeo Trilli (as Michael Moore)
written by Mario Bava (as John Hold), Alberto Liberati, Giorgio Simonelli, music by Marcello Giombini, cinematography by Antonio Rinaldi

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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A mysterious, knifethrowing stranger (Cameron Mitchell) saves Karin (Elissa Pichelli) & her son Moki (Luciano Pollentin) from Aghen's (Fausto Tozzi) henchmen, after which Karin, normally very suspicious towards strangers, allows him to stay.

Moki soon comes to see a fatherlike figure in the stranger, who teaches him to hunt, fish & how to throw knives, & even KArin opens up to him after a while, but can't allow herself to love him since her husband Arald (Giacomo Rosi-Stuart) has gone missing on a vikings' raid but might still be alive.

Karin soon trusts the stranger enough to tell them the story of her life & why Aghen's men are behind her:

At the day of her wedding to Arald, Aghen came to her village unannounced, to bring them the heads of neighbouring king Rurik's wife & child, claiming he was their enemy. Rurik, who was out on a raid with his men when Aghen attacked his village, soon has his revenge as he lays ruins to Arald's village, rapes Karin, but  spares Arald's life.

... what Karin of course doesn not know is that Rurik, whom she ahs only seen masked, is indeed the stranger, who has since realized that he has wronged Arald, Karin & their vilalge & now wants to atone for his since, & wants revenge on Aghen. But for the sake of Moki, who might be his son from the rape, he is willing to give up his plans for revenge, & indeed start a new life with Karin & Moki as a sort-of-family. Thing is, Aghen wants Karin too.

Then Aghen is seen in the neighbourhood though, & Rurik sees he has no choice but to fight him, , if only to secure the sagety of Karin & Moki. With his superior knifethrowing skills (he can throw 3 knives at once, all hitting their respective marks), he has soon immobilized Aghen's henchmen, but Aghen proves a tougher nut to crack. But in the end, the fight ends in a draw nly because Aghen makes a getaway.

Then though, Arald returns, & finding Rurik, his mortal enemy who has raped his wife, with his family, leads him to all the wrong conclusions, & soon the 2 of them engage in combat, even if Rurik tries his best to dissuade Arald from fighting & on more than one occasion refuses to kill him.

The fighjt is only ended when Karin rushes in, telling them Aghen has kidnapped Moki. Now the 2 have to form an uneasy alliance to save the boy & defeat Aghen once & for all ... & after a fierce battle, they do.

But when Rurik sees Moki embracing his dad Arald, he realizes his dreams of a family have come to an end, & rides off into the sunset.

 

This second viking-movie director mario Bava made with star Cameron Mitchell actually owes more to the Western genre than other viking-films: Not only does the absence of scenes on the sea (the vikings' traditional battlegrounds), the loving depiction of outdoor scenery & some of the sets suggest the Old West rather than Northern Europe, the story also boasts more than slight similarities to George Stevens' classic Shane (1952), with the hero merely wearing different outfits & sporting a different kind of weapon here.

As a whole, the film is beautifully photographed & the cheap sets are put to best use, but the direction is rather slow-paced & the story is quite cheesy, but not the good kind of cheesy. In some way, an interesting film (reportedly shot in under a week), but not one of Mario Bava's better ones.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
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Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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from the post-apocalyptic
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Tales to Chill
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the new anthology by
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directed by
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written by
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