Originally called Sampo (1959), this Soviet-Finnish production lost 24 minutes in the U.S. release known as The Day the Earth Froze. Every scene was filmed 4 times using two cameras as the picture featured either Finnish or Russian dialogue. A pastoral spectacle adapted from Finnish poetry, it is ripe for the riffing. “The Adventures of Fjord Fairlane”, “Kenny G”, “It’s a nice day for a wet wedding.” The fantasy encourages the ribbing and Day embodies what we love about the show. Fool’s Gold or the Real Deal?
Jack Frost is my all-time favorite episode, The Day the Earth Froze and The Magic Voyage of Sinbad are in my top ten, and The Sword and the Dragon ain’t far behind.
But yeah, Froze is AMAZING. There was one website that tracked the riffing rates of movies, and before the Jonah era, I believe Froze had the most riffs per minute of any MST3K episode. It sure felt that way!
The movie’s as weird as all get out, and BEAUTIFUL. All those Russo-Finnish movies on MST3K shared that.
So many great bits here, like the construction of the SAMPO, the Failure song, and the last surreal battle. Just terrific.
AND you had the Here Comes the Circus short for additional comedic darkness, even if all that Emmett Kelly did was eat stuff.
I didn’t discover MST3K until season 8 was rolling out (yikes!), so I’ve been going back and discovering the classics recently.
There’s something jarring about the title. It recalls sci-fi films of the time like The Day the Earth Stood Still. I was surprised to find it was a Russo-Finnish fairy tale in the style of Jack Frost or The Magical Voyage of Sinbad. I mean, all of the Russo-Finnish MST3Ks have clearly been rebranded to get some name recognition from English-speaking audiences (he’s not Sinbad!), but this is particularly audacious. Look at this poster fer cryin’ out loud:
Who, I ask, were they fooling? Sure, selling it with sci-fi trappings may have gotten some naive butts into seats, but once the film started, how many people did a double take, got out their reading glasses and started squinting at their tickets, wandering back into the lobby in a baffled daze, wondering what the mistake was?
Oh, who am I kidding, this was B-side drive-in double feature fodder, by the time this one came on the screen, the audience had long since checked out.
So was a more precise explanation of what a sampo is exactly perhaps included in those missing 24 minutes?
I admit this one starts off slow for me. It’s not until the witch appears and we get the whole sampo plot point that the laughs really start coming for me. But each and every one of the riffs either about or during the scenes of the witch and the sampo are comedy gems for me. I get a laugh out of even simple stuff like when the one wizard/gargoyle was begging the witch to spare his life:
Wiz/Gar: “I know some one who can help you build a sampo!”
Joel: “Murray on third shift!”
That cracks me up every time!
And I should perhaps be ashamed to admit this, but I get perhaps the biggest laugh in the entire experiment out of:
“I’m not the pheasant plucker
i’m the pheasant plucker’s son
I’m only plucking pheasants
Until the pheasant plucker comes.”
(I wonder how many times Trace had to practice that one before shooting it.)
And then all the joyous celebrations in the wedding scenes featuring songs about what a loser our alleged hero has been/is. Hilarious!
I think I’ve read somewhere on these forums that these Russian-Finnish movies had been recently remastered and issued on DVD? The print of the movie used for MST3K is really hard to watch. Even more so because you can tell there was a good budget spent for this film, what with all the costumes, extras, special effects, etc. , so you know that it originally must have been a big screen visual feast.
So, after a slow start (and a scary circus short), The Day The Earth Froze thawed out (see, I did a Gene Shalit right there!) to become one of my favorite episodes. I just wish there were a way to work out a deal to get the new remastered version of the movie used in the MST3K version.