Also known as: Sampo (original title)
Release Date: August 24th, 1959 (Soviet Union)
Directed by: Aleksandr Ptushko, Risto Orko
Written by: Väinö Kaukonen, Viktor Vitkovich, Grigori Yagdfeld
Music by: Igor Morozov
Cast: Urho Somersalmi, Ivan Voronov, Anna Orochko, Andris Ošiņš, Eve Kivi
Suomi-Filmi, Mosfilm, 91 Minutes (original cut), 67 Minutes (US version)
“[Ilmarinen hammers a viking ship out of molten iron, greatly distressing Louhi’s trolls] What is to become of us?” – Troll
Cold War fears were real. I think that a lot of them were compounded by the terror and weight brought on by this motion picture, which is the Soviet Union’s worst and most widespread form of torture.
While this made it to America and eventually found itself as a victim to the riffing greatness of Joel and the ‘Bots on Mystery Science Theater 3000, it was still a boring, dreadful dud.
Although, that episode became one of the more memorable ones from its season, as it gave us the whole “sampo” gag. I still don’t know what the hell sampo is, by the way.
This is a Soviet fantasy film and the Soviet’s have actually done some good ones. But this is a film I’ve seen a few times now and my brain just can’t stay awake enough to try and follow the plot. I think the real reason is because there isn’t much of a plot. There’s just this witch that steals your loved ones and demands “sampo” for their safe return.
This is an ugly film to look at whether you watch the black and white or colorized version. That could be due to this being a 1950s Soviet film and because of that there aren’t any good prints of the picture left… or any that don’t look like relics that have been pissed on by vodka chugging Bolsheviks.
Unless you are an MST3K completist, you should give this film a hard pass.
Pairs well with: other Soviet tortures of the Cold War era.