The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent (also known as The Viking Women and the Sea Serpent) is a 1958 film directed by Roger Corman. It starred Abby Dalton, Susan Cabot and June Kenney.
A group of Viking women from Stannjold, led by their leader Desir (Abby Dalton), decide to go out to sea in search of their missing men. They soon encounter a giant dragon-like sea serpent which destroys their ship. They wash up ashore on the mysterious land of the Grimaults and are taken captive by its ruthless tyrant Stark (Richard Devon). The Viking women discover their men, led by Vedric (Brad Jackson), had earlier washed ashore and were now imprisoned by Stark to work in his mines. The women eventually escape, liberate their men, and escape to the seashore. The Vikings paddle out in a longboat pursued by Stark and his men. Vedric manages to spear the sea serpent which sails past them and destroy the Grimault ship before succumbing to his wounds. The Vikings return to Stannjold and freedom.
- Abby Dalton as Desir
- Susan Cabot as Enger
- Brad Jackson as Vedric
- June Kenney as Asmild
- Richard Devon as Stark
- Betsy Jones-Moreland as Thyra
- Jonathan Haze as Ottar
- Jay Sayer as Senya
- Lynn Bernay as Dagda
- Sally Todd as Sanda
- Gary Conway as Jarl
- Mike Forrest as Zarko
- Wilda Taylor as Grimolt Dancer
Corman says he was approached to make the film by special effects experts Irving Block and Jack Rabin, who had acquired a script by Louis Goldman. Block and Rabin made a presentation about the effects which Corman called “breathtaking. Their pictures were beautiful, absolutely wonderful.” Corman felt the “script was not especially great” but was persuaded to do it but Block and Rabin’s promise to work for a small fee in exchange for a cut of the profits. Corman was reluctant to put his own money into the film. He went to AIP, who agreed to finance $70,000 to $80,000, although Corman said the presentation was more suited for a $2 million picture.
Corman was reportedly inspired to make the film by the production of The Vikings (1958). He felt if he made the movie fast enough he could have it in cinemas before that movie and take advantage of publicity for the bigger budgeted film.
In June 1957 Corman announced he would make the film for $300,000, triple of what he was used to. He said $50,000 of the budget would be assigned to special effects by Block and Rabin; Corman would normally spend $2,000 on effects. Another article that month said the effects would cost $210,000 and the movie would be Corman’s twentieth and most expensive film to date. Rabin and Block had done effects on Rocketship XM, Kronos and Invisible Boy and filming would start in August, with release through AIP.
It was the first of five movies Jay Sayer made for Corman. He was 24 but his part was written for a 15 year old. It was going to be played by an actor called Robin but he was unavailable. Sayer went to the costumer “and I literally grabbed every piece of junky jewelry they had there, which is why in the movie I’m wearing a tiara and bracelets and you name it. That diaper, that was the only thing I had to put around my bottom…that fur vest…the tacky, awful shoes, etc.”
Brad Jackson was given the male lead. The female leads were Susan Cabot, Kipp Hamilton and Abby Dalton. It was Cabot’s third film with Corman after Carnival Rock and Sorority Girl.
Filming started August 19 at Ziv Studios under the title Viking Women. It also took place at Cabrillo Beach, Bronson’s Canyon and Iverson’s Ranch. The shooting schedule was ten days which Corman wrote in his memoirs was far too short considering the nature of the story. At Iverson’s Ranch Corman made seventy seven set ups a day, his record. “It turned into an insanely difficult shoot,” he wrote.
On the first day of location work at Paradise Cove, the actress Corman had cast in the lead, Kipp Hamilton, held out for more money, so he fired her and promoted second lead Abby Dalton instead. Dalton’s sister Shirley Wasden took Dalton’s old role.
According to Sayer filming was extremely hazardous due to the low budget and scenes involving boats and horses. Shirley Wasden injured herself falling off a horse and was replaced by June Kenny, although Wasden can be glimpsed on some scenes. Richard Devon also hurt his knee and almost drowned in the water. Susan Cabot recalled almost drowning, and says she and Abby Dalton once nearly rode horses off a cliff.
Sayer says he based his performance on Jay Robinson in The Robe.
Devon called it “a disastrous film to work on. It was as if Roger was really trying to shorten his skimpy shooting schedules even more than before. He didn’t waste a frame. Nor did he spare anyone’s feelings on the set. He was an absolute demon.”
It was with first film Michael Forest made for Corman. He met the director in an acting class and was cast. Forest said Corman “was a bit cavalier in the way he would do things and allow the actors to take the chances that they did. But I must also say this: Roger was right there. I mean, if he asked you to climb up something and you said, “Where do you want us to climb?” he would climb up and show you — “This is what I want you to do.” It wasn’t as if he was saying, “Go out there and battle that tiger, I’ll just stand back here and watch you do it” — you know what I mean? He was good about that. But he didn’t really protect the actors that much from getting hurt, not in the early days, anyway.”
Corman said by the time he came to shoot the effects “I realized I had been had.” While he felt Block and Rabin were honest “they had simply promised something they could not deliver. A great sales pitch had distorted my judgement and AIPs.” He said as a result of this he no longer accepted oral proposals from people, he insisted it be written. Corman said he learned “an important lesson from this movie: don’t fall for a sophisticated sales job about elaborate special effects.”
Corman later said “The full title is The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent. We couldn’t figure out a way to put the title in two or three words, so I said let’s go to the other extreme and give them the longest title they’ve ever seen and then use the greatest cliché in historical pictures at the time which is to open up on an engraved leather book, a hand comes in, opens the cover of the book, and there’s the title of the picture.”
black & white, fullscreen, mono, 66 minutes. DVD-R comes packaged as shown in color DVD case, wrapped in plastic!