krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
Still in the third season of Mystery Science Theater 3000, I've made it to "Viking Women and the Sea Serpent." The on-screen title is actually "The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent," but when referred to it usually gets cut down somewhere along the way. The movie itself isn't that long, though, so we start with the just perhaps thematically similar "The Home Economics Story."

Made by the good folks at Iowa State College ("Iowa State College, the high school after high school."), the short begins with Kay about to graduate high school when she learns about the many opportunities available in the field of home economics and the various interesting courses that have some connection to it. She applies to college and opens her acceptance notice with great eagerness, and before too long she's on the hallowed grounds of Iowa State College itself ("Who would be her blood enemies?" "Would she smoke thin black cigarettes and disown the Triune God?"), meeting up with fellow home economics students Jean, Helen, and Louise. ("Kegs would be tapped. Men would be used.") Sure enough, each of them find various careers such as hospital food ("For quality cookery, use the Makery Bakery."), fashion ("Here, she designs pants for Chuckles the Clown."), and teaching ("What? We have to be subjugated to men?"), and before too long they reach graduation ("Hot and saucy, Texas style!") and head off to their new lives. The short makes for a more pleasant experience than some (even when the "riffing" starts overlaying sixties radicalism and later hedonism over the college experience on display), but perhaps that does mean it has a bit less impact.

As for the movie itself, it begins with a group of "Viking" women, their short-skirted, sleeveless costumes not really what comes to mind but their platinum-blonde hair perhaps a closer match (the priestess Inga/Enger has black hair, but there's something suspicious about her from the start) in a land that seems to have more to do with southern California than Scandinavia, deciding on whether to look for their long-gone menfolk by throwing spears at two trees. At last, the spears stuck in the "go" tree outnumber the ones in the other tree, and a small but more or less Viking ship is constructed. ("The women of Greenpeace.") The one man left in the land, the apparently young Ottar (although our heroes are soon calling him "Todd") manages to stow away, and after a while the boat capsizes in a storm and whirlpool ("Oh no, it's the rinse cycle!") as the sea serpent itself shows up.

Everyone washes ashore in the land of the darker-haired, sheepskin-vested Grimaults ("Oh good, they've washed up in Monument Valley." "These are the guys who gave us Mongolian stir-fry."), and before too long the fur-hatted, sheepskin-clad King Stark of the Grimaults is informing the Viking women their men have been taken captive and put in the slave mines. After a boar hunt in which the Viking woman leader Desir saves the somewhat less than manly Grimault price Senja and a big party featuring a Grimault dancing girl and Desir and Senja arm-wrestling ("It's Blaze versus Weenieman, on American Gladiators."), the Viking women manage to reach their clean-shaven, short-haired, rather strapping men ("Oh, great. It's an Abba reunion!"), only for Inga to betray them all, hoping to land Desir's destined partner Vedric for herself. A lot of inconclusive escape attempts follow ("Take those clown hammers and follow me.") before the decision is made to burn Desir and Vedric at the stake. Neither of them is willing to sacrifice the other to survive, so Inga finally calls on Thor (although the movie is carefully vague on whether it's just a natural thunderstorm) to put out the fires with a downpour and electrocute Senja as he's waving a sword around. Vedric bests Stark in battle, but doesn't bother to kill him.

After Stark has dumped the live dancing girl and his dead son into a fire pit, he sets out in pursuit of the departing Vikings. Inga nobly sacrifices herself to save the others, who pile into a rather low dugout canoe, and "Todd" finally manages to kill the whip-happy Grimault who's been tormenting him for most of the movie. Stark leads the rest of the Grimault out to sea in more dugouts ("They'll never catch up, they're two sound stages away!"), only for Vedric to wound the sea serpent so that it turns on the Grimault ("Kukla, not again!") before dying. The Vikings manage to paddle all the way home. ("You know, this home economics film really took a weird turn somewhere along the way." "Kiss me by the matte painting.")

As a Roger Corman film (the resemblances to "Teenage Caveman" are constantly pointed out), things do kind of drag, and the bombastic but simplistic Albert Glasser score may not help. Something may be added to the experience, though, in all of the "host segments" focusing on waffles, the Satellite of Love stacked high with them and Crow donning an odd waffle-adorned costume to inform Tom Servo of the dubiousness of wishing for a world without them (just where this came from wouldn't be touched on by the series until its penultimate episode, which I haven't got to myself yet). Where the series itself would let "running gags" run for a while and then replace them, MSTings did tend to hang on to them, and there were frequent references to waffles in the years to follow (just as there were to "RAM chips," which were only really mentioned in the first season or so).

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