The ninth entry in the 31 Days of Slashers series is Jefferson Richards’ Berserker (1987), also known as Berserker: The Nordic Curse. This little-seen slasher is a bit rough around the edges and definitely falls in the cheesy/fun category, but that makes it all the more enjoyable. Josh (Greg Dawson) is taking his friends to a Utah campground that he used to visit with his dad as a child. Run by Norwegian immigrant Pappy Nyquist (legendary character actor George ‘Buck’ Flower), the campground has been experiencing violent bear attacks recently. While enjoying a fun weekend of camping, Josh and his friends share Norwegian legends about violent Viking warriors, known as berserkers. As his friends start disappearing, Josh worries that the bear is attacking them. Or could it be a berserker who has somehow found himself in the 20th century?
The Norwegian legends at the heart of the story really separate the film from other camping slashers of the time. While most camp slashers usually just focus on campfire tales of killers at the camp, Berserker takes a gamble and adds a level of wildness with its inclusion of stories of Viking warriors. The rest of the narrative may be pretty similar to other films of the time, but this odd choice to focus on Norwegian mythology is very entertaining.
Richards is sure to add solid amounts of blood and gore to the violent sequences and the encounters with the bear and the potential berserker are always very engaging. The footage of the bear is particularly well-utilized for a film with such an obviously low budget. The natural location of the camp is also used nicely and looks quite decent throughout the film.
While the young cast of Berserker may not be the all-star performers of the slasher sub-genre, they turn in decent enough performances. The film is smart to let Flower’s Pappy Nyquist steal the show any time that he is on screen while John F. Goff is great as Officer Hill. Pappy Nyquist is the character that will linger with you long after the film is over, as George ‘Buck’ Flowers is just having such a good time in the role. I always get excited when I see him pop up in an obscure film that I’m watching.
Berserker may not be an award-winning slasher film by any means, but it provides a campy and very entertaining ride for the viewer. If you’re looking for an enjoyable and oddly mythological slasher to watch that you have never heard of, look no further!
Berserker can be streamed for free on Tubi. The Vinegar Syndrome blu-ray, which features an amazing restoration and great special features (and is also the only release of the film beyond its original VHS), can be bought HERE.
I’ll see you tomorrow with another entry in the 31 Days of Slashers series!