Friday, May 29, 2009


If you're a Finnophile like me, hearing about the 1960s movie SAMPO was mouth-wateringly exciting: a film dramatization of the Finn national epic, Kalevala (or at least a choice selection thereof). The film's American-edited version by American International Pictures cut over half an hour of footage from the film that has yet to be fully added. Most people are familiar with the shorter AIP cut when it aired in the U.S. as THE DAY THE EARTH FROZE, which aired on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

It's not hard to understand why this movie would look insanely, hilariously bad despite its generally high production values. Mostly because of a Kung Fu flick level terrible dubbing job by American International Pictures, but I think it might have been that the intended American audience lacked any social context for the story so it all just looked schizophrenically insane and random.

At least SAMPO fared a lot better than another AIP hatchetjob, where they redubbed a Soviet movie about a Russian folk tale with a blond main character as SINBAD'S MAGIC VOYAGE. (???)

Still, though. When spoofing THE DAY THE EARTH FROZE, they could have laid off the Swedish and Norwegian jokes. The confusion between Scandinavian and Finnish/Estonian culture is really annoying. I guess Mike Nelson, Joel and the rest were Midwesterners, so everything vaguely arctic-circle and European looked Scandinavian to them!

Here's a great selection of how the film looked in its original Finnish:

Here are a couple of the "lost" scenes from SAMPO, from the German version. These feature a plot cut from the first version of the film, namely the murder and resurrection of Leminkainen.

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