12/14/06

317 Viking Women and the Sea Serpent

(1957, Fantasy-Sword & Sorcery, b&w),with:

The Home Economics Story
(1951, Educational, color)

Consider the lowly waffle as a fine and suitable side dish…

Rating: **1/2

In a nutshell:

Short: Young college women study hard to become housewives.
Film: Young Viking women sail off in search of their lost men.

Short Summary:

Back in the fifties, homemaking apparently required a graduate degree.In The Home Economics Story, the high school administration calls their senior girls in for an assembly. A large-cheeked woman tells them all the joys of going to college to study such womanly subjects as cooking, cleaning, designing clothes, and rearing children. Intrigued by a world of previously unseen opportunities, a girl named Kay applies. In college she studies to be a teacher while her roommates study fashion design, cooking, and household appliances. She goes to exams, dances, and football games, and then graduates.

Film Summary:

In (take a deep breath) The Saga of the Viking Women and their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent (gasp) hot blond Viking women argue over whether or not to go looking for their manly sweethearts. They’re pretty evenly divided between those who have men to look for and those who don’t. They cast votes by throwing spears at trees, and the evil brunette, Inga the Dark, casts the deciding vote to go. In some loudly discussed exposition we discover that Inga’s in love with the Viking man leader Vedric, but he’s in love with the Viking woman leader Desir.

They build a ship and sail away into the horizon. Despite the fact that it’s a tiny boat that only holds half-a-dozen women, the pint-sized but manly Ottar somehow manages to stow away under some furs, hoping to impress the big lonely girl. Inga tries to “accidentally” kill Desir a couple of times, and then the eponymous sea serpent attacks them and sinks their boat.

Fortunately they all wash up on shore at the same place, where they’re immediately taken captive by thin, hairy men with whips. After some gratuitous whipping and a whole lot of uneventful walking, they arrive at the barbarian stronghold. There they meet Stark, the fur-clad leader of the Grimaults, and his effeminate son Senya. They invite the women on a boar hunt, where Desir saves Senya’s life by spearing a boar that’s about to gore him. Senya whines so much that she says he can say he killed it. He happily takes credit and they have a big raucous party. A fight breaks out, and Stark takes the women to see their lost men (now slaves), and then has them imprisoned. The littlest Viking girl slips through the bars and tries to free the men, but Inga warns Stark and everyone gets recaptured.

Inga tries to get Vedric to run away with her, but he won’t abandon Desir. Inga gets mad and convinces Stark to order their execution. The next day, Stark has both Vedric and Desir bound to stakes and tells them that the first one to plead for their life will be set free. Naturally they both remain silent, even as the flames are about to consume them. Touched by their unfailing love, Inga begs Stark to let them go, but he refuses. Inga prays to the Viking god Thor, who complies by dousing the execution fires with rain and electrocuting Senya to death with lightning. The Grimaults all run away, except for Stark, who loses a duel with Vedric before skulking away himself.

Stark cremates his son, along with a sword and a live girl, and then gathers his warriors to chase down and kill the Vikings. The reunited Vikings run to the sea, and Inga sacrifices herself to lead the Grimaults astray. Ottar kills a whip-happy Grimault that gets too far ahead, while the rest paddle away in a longboat. He swims out to them and climbs in, while Stark and his cohorts pursue them in other longboats. The sea serpent attacks, and Vedric mortally wounds it with a stolen sword. It kills Stark and the Grimaults while it thrashes around in dying agony. The Vikings paddle their longboat all the way home.

Introduction:

Three deeply disturbed individuals.Joel has a bunch of ideas for great new ways to serve waffles. Quoth he, “Consider the lowly waffle…” Quoth Crow, “I think the butter’s slipped off your stack…”

Host Segment One:

Joel continues to extol the virtues of waffles. Quoth Dr. Forrester, “This time you’ve really stepped off the deep end.” He and Frank unveil the meat reanimator and use it to bring a Gold’n Plump chicken back to life. Joel invents the waffle iron, which flattens regular waffles to make them more like pancakes. The chicken attacks Frank with a knife, and Dr. Forrester uses the reanimator to bring all the waffles on the Satellite of Love to life.

Host Segment Two:

Joel has reprogrammed the ‘Bots to really love waffles, but won’t give them any until they think of great new uses for waffles. Tom says they would make a great chamois to buff the car. Crow says, “easy-to-read waffles with enlarged squares for the flavor impaired.” They all feast on waffles.

Host Segment Three:

Joel says, “Waffles,” and then it’s movie sign.

Host Segment Four:

Tom muses that the world might be a better place without waffles. Crow dresses up as Willy the Waffle and does a series of skits with Joel to show him the error of his ways.

Host Segment Five:

Joel and the ‘Bots sing the waffle song. Just follow the bouncing ball! Down in Deep 13, Frank enjoys a nice plate of waffles. Dr. Forrester electrocutes him with the reanimator.

Stinger:

The effeminate Senya whines, “I’m a prince!”

Thoughts:

A representative sample of our hot blond stars.The Home Economics Story may have been very progressive for 1951. After all, it encouraged women to go to college, if only to major in household chores. By itself, it might actually be the blandest film in existence. It’s a good thing we don’t have to watch it in its untreated form.

The exhaustingly titled Viking Women and the Sea Serpent is a Roger Corman film. As always, this means one to two locations, minimal special effects, a horribly stilted script, and lots and lots of walking scenes. Corman’s films are always very low on content, as if he wrote, shot, and edited each film over a single weekend. He liked to reuse locations too—at one point the Vikings pause in front of the very same tree where the Teenage Caveman stood and wondered what he might find “beyond the river.” The sea serpent effect (a wet sock puppet superimposed over the boating scenes) is probably the best special effect I’ve ever seen him do.

The real stars of this episode are the waffles. The MST3K writers abandoned their usual host segment modus operandi, opting instead to do a lot of silliness about a breakfast food. It works. Joel’s fascination with waffles is hilariously bizarre, and the way he tortures the ‘Bots with them is both creepy and funny. My favorite segment is when Crow dresses up as Willy the Waffle (a la the short A Case of Spring Fever, not seen on MST3K until Episode 1012) and shows Tom what a dismal place the world would be if waffles did not exist.

The bland Home Economics Story takes on a great deal more life with the addition of Joel and the ‘Bots, starting when Crow shouts, “I took several heavy blows to the cheeks with a lead pipe,” during the big-cheeked lady’s speech. When the football cheerleaders repeatedly point to their nether regions, the SOL crew’s cheer of “Look, look, look at my crotch!” is grotesquely appropriate. Tom also spends some time trying to convince us that a random kid in a purple shirt is the pop singer Prince as a child. The glacial Viking Women film is less pleasant to watch. At one point there’s a long, unnecessary shot of the sky and Crow booms out, “Roger—this is God—pick up the pace!” This episode’s worth watching for the short and the host segments. Even the main film is probably worth seeing, if only once.