Back in the day when this hit video the box copy did its job and sucked me in with promises of a Viking warrior on a blood-soaked rampage, cutting swath through the scum of the western world… pot-smoking promiscuous teens. Holy shit! This could be the greatest movie ever! Or not.
Opening with a prologue set (as we are informed by a title card) in the 10th century, the front of a Viking longship hits a fog shrouded beach and after a long pause to observe clouds of mist float past the camera, what appears to be a reject from a Man-o-War cover-band audition, in a wolf mask, jumps off the boat. Cut to what we presume is present day (did the title guy fall asleep already?) and a couple, clearly eligible for the silverhair discount at Denny’s, are savagely attacked by what appears to be a bear. You can’t really tell as it is all POV shots with the paw from a cheap bear costume gently wiped across the faces of the victims leaving a smear of blood. Hey, it could get better, right?
Ok, ok, we get it already! Someone’s gonna git possessed by a berserker and shit’s gonna go down! Awesome, bring it!
Or, maybe we’ll just wander around in the woods, hang out in the cabin and bitch, piss and moan about every goddamn thing under the everlovin’ sun. Mostly though, it’s just the obnoxious tool Josh (Greg Dawson) who tells his heart-wrenching tale of how his dad was an asshole who was obsessed with his job, left his mom, but when they came up to the cabin he was, like, totally cool n’ stuff. It’s no surprise that he is the only dude flying solo on this camping trip, as his eloquent mastery of the sublime art of humor is demonstrated frequently. When Larry brings books on the camping trip, Josh leans over to Larry’s girlfriend, Kathy (Valerie Sheldon), and says “does he read to you while you hump? What are ya gonna do? Teach Smokey the Bear to read?” He also tells the group about how the woods are dangerous as a little girl was found “all tore up” in a river. The authorities decided that it was due to the rocks in the river, in spite of the recent bear warning. Oh yeah, that’s great, thanks for bringing us up here Josh!
Naturally all this is a set-up for the impending attacks, but first we need to hit some of the important highlights from the ‘80s Slasher Movie Checklist. The highlight of this pawful of clichés grueling montage with the “teens” goofing off to an awe-inspiringly cheesy rock tune “Cool Dude”. Since words cannot do this justice, here’s the video:
And yes, we ticked off another one on the list, the skinny dipping scene in which the writer-director Jeff Richard decides he is a rebel filmmaker who is going to buck the system by having the girl start to take off her clothes and then decide not to. Hmmmmm… Let’s see, Jeff doesn’t want to see boobs, but does want to see two men greased up and stripped to the waist grappling and rolling around on the ground. Uhhh, Jeff? Is there something you would like to share with the group?
Even after giving us the first prologue and our exciting premise of possession, Richard spends a lot of time trying to suggest that it’s a bear who is running around the woods attacking people and that there is in fact no berserker as the title would suggest! Nope, it’s a bear and we are going to move forward with that until the end in which… surprise! It actually is a berserker! Gosh, I bet they won’t see that coming, what a surprise that will be!
Jeff, come here so I can smack you. At this point we discover that the bear was actually chasing the berserker who runs in out of nowhere and bum-rushes the bear like he’s some buffed out Leslie Nielson. Our epic throwdown between berserker and bear turns into a trainer and a bear playing cut with the berserker wrasslin' a dude in a Spencer's Halloween costume. Even better, as soon as the bear starts to get the upper... uhh, paw, our berserker tucks his tail between his legs and runs off into the forest howling for his momma!
Twenty years later I am sucked in (again) by the premise and the promise of a Viking berserker bustin’ all Jason Voorhees on some nitwit campers and twenty years later I get to feel the same disappointment all over again. That is not to say that there aren’t any points of interest along the way. Josh is totally obsessed with staying at the same cabin that he stayed at while growing up. He makes a big deal about it, damn near throws down with ol' Pappy when he can't get it and generally will not shut the fuck up about it. Once they get there, you can see why... Mike, once he stops giggling, is a runaway freight train of social incompetence. When he hops on an ATV to go get the sheriff, he tells a terrified Kathy that she has to stay at the cabin. Why? Because “I can drive faster with less weight!” Hoooboy, Mike, I’d rather take my chances with the berserker!
|Best cabin... EVAR!!|
As long as your expectations are very, very low and your pain threshold is very, very high, you might get out of this one alive. All others beware, unless you are a "Cool Dude".