Have Vikings fallen out favour with audiences? Louisa Warren’s film Scarecrow’s Revenge was originally titled Scarecrow Vs. Vikings. The film at hand, also from Ms. Warren, Pagan Warrior originally had the truly brilliant title of Vikings Vs Krampus. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that her film Tooth Fairy: The Root of Evil started out as Tooth Fairy Vs. Vikings.
Pagan Warrior opens with a fairly impressive shot of a castle. Then ruins it with a shot of an obviously modern chain link fence and bridge. But that gets topped a few minutes later when the opening text can’t decide if the film is set in 812 or 1812.
After failing repeatedly to seize the castle of King Ulf the Vikings think their time has come. Ulf has died and his son Rollo (Peter Cosgrove, Spirits In the Dark, Winterskin) wears the crown. For some reason they decide they can’t defend the castle and taking to the woods is safer. Of course, it isn’t and the Vikings kill Rollo and Queen Silvia (Shaila Alvarez, Dragonflies Only Live for 24 Hours). The rest are taken prisoner.
However, King Rollo is found and resurrected by a pair of local witches Constance (Louisa Warren) and Millicent (Tara MacGowran, The Mummy Reborn). They also enable him to summon Krampus (Darrell Griggs, The Viking War) for revenge. But deals with demons rarely work out as planned.
Now you can excuse, or try to excuse, a lot of things due to budget. But there’s no excuse for the kind of carelessness that allows the filmmakers to get the film’s date wrong like that. Or the kind of contempt for the audience that lets it go unfixed either by them or the distributor.
Beyond this, Pagan Warrior suffers from the same problem as Scarecrow’s Revenge, everything looks way too modern. If you squint at the characters’ leatherware you would probably see “Harley Davidson” stamped into it. Since both the Viking hordes and the castle’s inhabitants number in the single digits, they could have taken the effort to make their gear look older. Or at least aged and lived in, not fresh off the shelf.
By the way, did anyone catch an explanation for how Octavia (Hattie Willow, Pet Graveyard, The Candy Witch) ended up in the castle? I’m used to historical films like Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, The Norsemen and Wolf working characters of unexpected ethnicities into the plot. But usually, there’s an explanation for how they ended up in such unlikely settings. I’m assuming Octavia was a Moor, but I don’t remember anyone saying as much.
Krampus takes his time showing up again after the prologue. His mask is effectively animalistic. But for some reason, he has normal human hands rather than claws. Regardless, the script by Shannon Holiday (House on Elm Lake, Dirty Work) doesn’t do anything interesting with him. Even the final twist is telegraphed early in the film.
Pagan Warrior could have been a fun genre mashup. Instead, it’s another missed opportunity. It’s available to stream from ITN and on DVD from Mill Creek. You can check out the film’s Facebook page for more info.