Reviewed by The Keeper of the Pit
In 1957, having already engermed scum success with male/female role reversals of archtypes in a series of Westerns, Roger Corman directed a flick witch was to the first of many in his caroming career in witch the female leads WERE the leads, the legendary THE SAGA OF THE VIKING WOMEN AND THEIR VOYAGE TO THE WATERS OF THE GREAT SEA SERPENT, starring Abby Dalton and the late lay-mented Susan Cabot. The plot had a batch of Nordic women setting off across the waters after their men, who got lost at sea & never came back. & believe me, after laying eyes on these women, you KNOW the men would have made it back to their loving arms, legs, & breastplates if they had demeans. Hex-ecution of this plot, of curse, was somewhat cheap: in one scene you get to see the studio curtain & rods from overhead the "banquet hall." & the villains on the island where the Viking men crashed & were imprisoned wore these funny Hershey-Kisses-shaped hats witch I swear Corman KEEPed, uh, kept in his closet to use in BARBARIAN QUEEN. I also swear that, aside from your Biblical epics, SEA SERPENT boasts the most divine intervention ever seen in one PITure. For one, the "Sea Serpent" is the island folks' god, & they use it to shipwreck sailors for use as labor. &, if the shipwreckees are women, well, labor will come about 9 months laid-her. Any Lamaze, uh, anyways, Abby & friends natchurally find themselves sunk by the serpent and his whirlpool, & lead their slavering, I mean, slaving men to revolt for the climax. Ah yes, butt first (& that's how the Keeper always sees her in his mind's thigh, uh, eye) there's the evil Viking woman played by Susan Cabot, going by the name of Inger the Dark. Inger's the jealous, traitorous type, & she sets up Abby & her men to be burned at the stake. Ole Inger was the (sex) subject of many a young Keeper fantasy, & freekguent T.V. showings of this pic only served to further cause my tongue to dangle tween my knees at an oily age. Little did I know how often this good blonde/bad black-head female archtype would be used in subsequent Queen B flicks of all genres, butt I've always been drawn to the slinky Inger types since sex-posure to SEA SERPENT, & fur be it for me to come plain. Witch ever yer prefurences, letch get on with the plot! Abby & "hero" are bound to the stakes, about to fry & die, when lo & behold the Viking thunder god is invoked to save them (ya gotta see it, I'm saving some stuff here) & hot lil Inger gets zapped by lightning, the waters of the whirlpool are divinely parted & all is swell. Hex-cept, of curse, for Inger, who's feeling mighty Thor!
Cut to 1985. Many years & flicks with stronger men layed-her, uh, later, Corman's riding thigh with a series of female barbarian PITures witch began with SORCERESS & its 2 whose arse is 1, DEATHSTALKER starring Lana Clarkson, abutt more witch later, & THE WARRIOR AND THE SORCERESS, starring David Carradine & a lovely wench named Maria Socas who spends virtually the entire without the benefit of a blouse. Ah, well, Corman never was one to waist, er, waste a ghouled SET. Shot on the cheap on the Argentine, BARB QUEEN is yet anudder pic wherein the babes are tuffer than the wimpy guys, & ass usual the gals are a feast for male eyes. Blonde Lana Clarkson stars as Amethea, whose wedding day is ruined by a gang of marauders who begin the flick by raping her sister Taramis (played by FORBIDDEN WORLD starlet Dawn Dunlap) & spiriting her off bound & gagged after destroying the home village & killing or kidnapping everyone butt Amethea & her bosom budette, Estrild. Estrild is played by STRIPPED TO KILL's own Katt Shea, who fills out a pretty mean furskin lickwise. Threegether with straggling survivor Tiniara (isn't anybody named Beulahbelle in this thing?), played by Susana Traverso who's got some torso!, the gals set (sorry) off to find Lana's missing groom & the rest of the village. Yup, jest like in the Abby Dalton flick previously discursed, the womenfolk here are dealing directly with what in udder films would be serpent-ed-up emotions.
Before long our swordslinging hipslingers drift onto the batch of women snatchers who opened the piece. Seems they have one of their female victims tied to a tree or stumpthing, & she looks tortured, to root, uh, boot. As is generally the rule in Corman films, violence doesn't look pretty, nor do its effects. The spit the Keep's puns here, rape is never a funny thing, guys, no matter what. A woman's body is hers to give, & if she doesn't want to, that's the way it is, & that's the way it should be. Like, it's much bedher when they help…(I stink that line should rank for petty Lauren-cy!) Coming upon this PITiful scene, Lana has no 2'nd thoughts about giving one old boy rapist, about to rePIT his offense, a lesson in swift steele justice. In udder words, she makes him perform a first-time, 1-time-only sword swallowing act. Battle ensues, the women win, & they find Taramis worse for wear and shell-shocked. Witch is only further impetus for Lana/Amethea to hex-claim a motto of sorts: "I'll be no man's slave, & no man's whore!" Ghouled thing she lives in an age before man invented the ultimate device in woman enslavement, the coffeepot! (Having BEAN around in dose daze, the monster sez the guys who invented it, not bean as money-wise as Corman, Sanka fortune into it!)
Unlike Lana & Katt, knot to mention the escaped Dawn, for a 75-minute-or-so film, BARB QUEEN starts to sag a bit in the middle, even though our pre-coffeepot comlies look like they'd be ghouled to the last droop! Our allgal gang eventually gather some assordid fruits & nuts, I mean wimps, well, dull guys who can only be persuaded to join the revolution against the kingdom & the slave trade by a plucky lad, as in boy, the kinda kid the Keep would justice well see run over by a runaway dungwagon. Plots are laid to free the menfolk. Meanwhile, Taramis volunteers herself as bedmate to the main villain/king/coffee, I mean, despot, the guy who spied her bound & gagged & half-naked in the beginning of the PITure, butt then he was to busy adjusting the angle of his Hershey-Kiss-hat. Lickwise, Corman musta had a chocolot of those hats, cuz Tiniara gets captured & tortured, then killed by a Fred Willard look-alike in 1 of those hats who sez things like "Torture you? We have a MAN who does that!" Wow, talk about yer PLAN 9 school of line readings. Even verse, Lana gets chained up by the main heavy & made to kneel in chains before him, butt will she bend to his swill? Of curse knot! So, he dispatches her to the dungeon, where his head interrogator spreadeagles her topless to an upright rack with a steel claw dangling over a nipple she'd much rather KEEP, fang you. Obviously her incredible, edible & hopeless bod is too much for the inquisitor to resist, so he proceeds to stuff & mount her.
Now comes the part that each time I run it I have to yell "Down, monster, down!" This nebbish bad guy starts raping her (yeah, I know I said rape is never funny: so tell script-person Howard Cohen!), she wraps her legs around his back, & pretty quick he's yelling "Too tight! Too tight!" Sheesh, some guys will come-plain abutt anything! Okay, she sez, so untie my hands. Like a jerk, off he takes her bonds, to witch she responds by shoving him into a nearby vat of acid, wherein he becomes a dead skeleton. Witch I guess is what he gets for trying to bone her!
From there it's off to the revolution, the menfolk are free, the main villain bites it big (oiler Amethea almost bit her ear off rather than submit: a case of lobe at 1st fright!), & the plucky boy rushes in to all but rePIT SEA SERPENTS ending by going "My name is Thor!" Talk abutt yer Loki performance!
So, rather than bean Buenos Airheaded, BARB QUEEN, even without any sorcerous elements, comes off as a fine hex-ample of Corman Argen-tuna. Haddock, uh, had I known back in '57 how powerful & continuous these Corman girl archtypes would be. If only we in our tender years could have seen Abby Dalton's halter off! Or a nice shot of Susan Ca-butt!
Ah well, in many ways I'm still that adull-X-scent. A child of the '50s, I KEEP watching the thighs. & remember, fiends & lovers, whenever things look Dark, do what I do: Look back in Inger!