Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 16th, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1961
Director: Mario Bava
Writers: Oreste Biancoli, Piero Pierotti, Mario Bava
Cast: Cameron Mitchell, Alice Kessler, Ellen Kessler, George Ardisson, Andrea Checchi, Jean-Jacques Delbo, Franco Giacobini, Raf Baldassarre, Françoise Christophe
BluRay released: August 28th, 2017 (UK), August 29th, 2017 (USA)
Approximate running time: 90 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: LPCM Mono Italian, LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English, English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $39.95 (USA) / £24.99 (UK)
“In 786 AD, the invading Viking forces are repelled from the shores of England, leaving behind a young boy – Erik, son of the slain Viking king. Years later, Erik, raised by the English queen as her own, becomes Duke of Helford, while across the sea, his brother Eron assumes leadership of the Viking horde and sets his sights on conquering England once again, setting the two estranged brothers on a collision course that will determine the fates of their respective kingdoms…” – Synopsis provided by the Distributor
Throughout his career Mario Bava was a versatile director who worked in every genre. And though he is most known for his work within the Horror genre. The majority of his earliest films as a director were in the Sword and Sandal sub-genre. Most notably films like The Giant of Marathon and Hercules in the Haunted World.
Content wise, besides being influenced by Richard Fleischer’s The Vikings. Also there are many elements in Erik the Conqueror that have since become synonymous with the Sword and Sandal sub-genre.
Performance wise the cast are all good in their respective roles. With this film’s standout performance being Cameron Mitchell (Blood and Black Lace, The Toolbox Murders) in the role of Eron, the son of a Norsemen who was slain in battle by Anglo-Saxon’s. Other notable performances include, George Ardisson (The Long Hair of Death) in the role of Erik, the long lost brother of Eron and Françoise Christophe (Fantomas vs. Scotland Yard) in the role of Regina Alice, the queen of Anglo-Saxon’s.
Visually this film is a feast for the eyes. And there are many moments where the colors are filled with vibrancy. Standout moments visually include, a scene where lovers are crucified and a scene where a tarantula is used to torture a young woman.
Erik the Conqueror comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The transfer for this release was sourced from a 2k restoration of the film from the original camera negative. Colors look vibrant, details look scrips and black levels remains solid throughout. Grain fares well and there are some mild issues related to compression.
This release comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in Italian with optional English subtitles and a LPCM mono mix in English with optional English SDH subtitles. Both audio mixes sound, clean, clear and balanced throughout. With the Italian audio mixes offering a slightly more robust presentation. It should be noted that the booklet that is included as part of this release mentions that the Italian audio mix was remastered from the optical sound track negatives and the English audio mix was sourced from the best available masters.
Extras for this release include, the film’s original ending (1 minute 23 seconds), a video essay about the film titled Gli imitatori (12 minute 6 seconds), an audio interview with actor Cameron Mitchell (63 minutes 23 seconds) and an informative audio commentary with Tim Lucas, author of Mario Bava – All the Colors of the Dark.
The extra titled Gli imitatori is a comparison between Erik the Conqueror and its unacknowledged source, The Vikings.
Rounding out the extras are a reversible cover art and twenty-four-page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled Swords and Sensationalism written by Kat Ellinger and information about the restoration / transfer. Also, included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall Arrow Video gives Erik the Conqueror it’s best home video release to date.