Tarkan Versus the Vikings (1971)

The heroic Tarkan takes on the Vikings to save Atilla the Hun's daughter in this wacky Turkish adventure. Mondo Macabro USA R0 DVD.

The Film

Turkish exploitation cinema kicked off in the 1960s and peaked in around 1970. While Italian cinema had made a business of following American cinematic sucess with dozens of similar films, the Turkish went one better and outright copied the American films - so audiences were treated to shameless Superman, Star Trek and Rambo rip-offs. However, not all the films were so directly copied and one of the most sucessful series were the Tarkan films. Based on a Turkish comic-book, they are a variation on the classic wandering hero stories, with Tarkan and his loyal wolf battling all manner of evil.

The era of the Vikings. Yonca, the daughter of Atilla the Hun, is visiting a small Turkish fort, guarded by Tarkan and his loyal wolf-hounds. Suddenly, Vikings attack, trying to find Yonca - Tarkan fights of dozens of them but is caught with a hail of arrows and one of his wolves is killed. After the Vikings leave, Tarkan and his wolf restore themselves to health and vow to kill the Vikings. Meanwhile Toro the Viking declares himself the new King of the Vikings and throws newly deposed King Gero to a giant octopus, he then makes a deal with a Chinese ambassador, Lotus, to sell Yonco to her - but that night she drugs Toro and steals Yonca. The next morning Gero's daughter, Ursual, arrives and Toro tries to kill her too. Meanwhile, the Chinese boat has stopped at a sea-side tavern for the night, and Tarkan arrives there too. The Vikings who followed Lotus, attack the Tavern and Tarkan fights them off, not realising that Yonca is being held captive in the tavern itself. When more Vikings arrive and recapture Yonca, Tarkan has to sail to the land of the Vikings to save her...

As far as originality goes, Tarkan versus the Vikings isn't going to win any prizes - the storyline is pretty typical rescue and revenge, while the setting is a mix of peplum and Viking movie, with a bar-room scene that could come straight from the Spaghetti Westerns. Tarkan himself is a pretty dopy hero, taking a drugged drink, failing to notice Yonca, and continually getting captured - only being saved by his wolf. Based on a comic-book, all the characters have a suitably comic-book feel to them, especially the Vikings who kill children and torture women for no particular reason. The plot manages to work in loads of action and sex scenes and is pretty well paced throughout - with no respite from the action.

While the storyline could be the product of Italian cinema, the direction and design is completely distinctive - while the peplum films often tried for a vaguely realistic look,
Tarkan versus the Vikings is packed full of vivid colours and fantasy images. Of special note: Toro, the chief Viking, who sports the largest blonde wig and mustache to ever grace the screen. Obviously benefiting from a decent budget, the film boasts some full size Viking boats and a larger-than-life Octopus model, that although cheesy looks far better than most American B-movie monsters. Anyone who comes into the film expecting historical accuracy has got the wrong end of the stick completely, but the film makers do seem to have gone to a lot of trouble to make everything wrong - from the horned helmets to the massive castles, even their long-boat (with its enclosed, slave manned oars) is completely wrong!

The film does suffer from some very choppy editing, with not a single frame of film wasted between action or dialogue scenes. For those who expect the Turkish films to be relatively conservative, there is plenty of violence here, including some random axe attacks on children by the Vikings and there are several topless shots, although shots of nipples seem to be limited to about 4 seconds at a time. The soundtrack has some nice themes (including the inexplicable, repeated use of Also Sprach Zarathrusta (famously used as the main theme in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968))) and does boost the action, but with a bizarre tendancy to stop suddenly at the end of scenes.

As expected, the acting here is nothing special, but Kartal Tibet (as Tarkan) does all his own stunts and looks very impressive. The women look suitably sexy, although admittedly, Seher Seniz as Lotus doesn't look very Chinese.

Filled with vivid colours, plenty of sex, over-the-top stunts and dozens of daft action scenes, Tarkan versus the Vikings is a very entertaining film, although not always intentionally, and makes a perfect introduction to this often completely overlooked niche of cult cinema. Recommended to anyone interested in broadening their cinematic horizons.

In Brief

Anyone famous in it? Kartal Tibet - A Turkish cinema legend who appeared in dozens of films and is now a director.
Directed by anyone interesting? Mehmet Aslan - a Turkish director who helmed most of the Tarkan films and dozens of Turkish films during the boom time.
Any violence/gore? Some brutal killings complete with flying heads and embedded axes.
Any sex? Several topless and nude scenes although only seen briefly.
Who is it for?
Recommended to fans of ultra-obscure cinema and anyone wanting to experience Turkish filmmaking.


Mondo Macabro have released Tarkan versus the Vikings in a Turkish Pop Cinema double-bill, along with The Deathless Devil (1973) and an impressive 30 minute documentary about Turkish cinema - complete with interviews and film clips. The films look surprisingly good, far better than most public domain discs, and the original Turkish soundtracks are used, with optional English subtitles. This set is a perfect place to start exploring this often forgotten niche of cinema, and it comes highly recommended.
Visuals 1.33:1 fullscreen (there is no notable cropping on the sides, so this might be the OAR). Colour
Although the film is preceeded by a notice apologising for low PQ, the film actually looks quite good for most of the run-time - there is some print damage, dropped frames and a general softness, but it looks miles better than many of the public domain/bootleg DVDs on the market.
Audio Turkish language mono. Sounds very good.
Subtitles English - translation of the Turkish track.
Run-timeFeature: 1hr 26m 28s 
Extras The disc includes:
  • The Deathless Devil (1973) - another Turkish pop-cinema film. (1hr 24m 11s)
  • Documentary on Turkish pop cinema, including interviews with several actors and some very interesting looking film clips. (24m 11s)
  • On-screen text notes about both films.
  • Mondo Macabro Promotional reel. (4m 11s)
Region Region 0 (ALL) - NTSC
Other regions? None known.
Cuts? None known - this print is the original Turkish cinema version.



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All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 10th August 2006.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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