Just five years before his iconic performance as Andy Dufresne in 1994’s The Shawshank Redemption, Tim Robbins delivered his most bizarre work in Terry Jones’ madcap Viking spoof Erik the Viking. Released for the first time on Blu-ray in the UK from Signal One Entertainment, this gorgeously packaged Limited Edition is certainly more impressive than the film itself housed within.
The film’s humorous premise presents us with an existential Viking who is tired of all the pillaging and wonders if there is more to life than all that. Embarking on a quest to get the Vikings back on track, he meets a variety of eccentric characters and falls in love with a beautiful princess (Imogen Stubbs) – but those expecting much of a story will be disappointed with this zany and sloppy spoof that spends the majority of its runtime on ridiculous gags.
Packed with the usual Pythonesque mayhem you’d expect from Jones et al, the film’s absurdist comedy is certainly an acquired taste. But even those who appreciate dead parrots and slapping fish might be disappointed in the humour here, which certainly pales in comparison to Jones’ finer efforts. The film is incredibly messy across the board, with an alarming number of gags that don’t even come close to landing, while performances are sloppy and often over-the-top to a point that is uncomfortable rather than amusing. There’s a reason Erik the Viking is never talked about in the pantheon of cinema comedy, and even rarely gets a mention alongside the Python troupe’s scattered works.
Fans of the film, however, will be delighted with this lavish release from Signal One Entertainment that combines two cuts of the film (the theatrical release in HD and ‘Director’s Son’s Cut” in SD) along with commentaries, trailers and a sprinkling of featurettes. Presented in a beautiful slipcase with a booklet essay by Neil Mitchell, this Blu-ray/DVD set seems a waste on such a lacklustre film – but fans will certainly be ecstatic with the passionate work from the label. Watch out, physical media world – Signal One Entertainment have just brought their A-game. Hopefully the next release they use it on will be a stronger film!
Erik the Viking is such a damp squib in Terry Jones’ filmography it is practically soaking, but any fans out there will be delighted with this wonderful Limited Edition release from Signal One Entertainment.