I saw this picture in, of all places, New Delhi. So, viewing a dark Russian tale in such a colourful, lively environment added to the already heightened feeling of high quality weirdness that 'Stakha' (English title: 'The Savage Hunt of King Stakh') conveys. The wonderful and adventurous strangeness of later Soviet era films, so little seen in the West, is here evident, but with an added ingredient of genuine gothicness, somewhat akin to Herzog's 'Nosferatu', but with a thrust further into undiscovered corners and shadows. Rather than discomfort though, this film brings with it a certain coziness, more Poe-like than horrific, much more Byronic than Stephen King-ish. There is a sort of perversity in the art direction, which perfectly accompanies the singular mood of this obscure picture. It was 20 years ago that I saw it, and it is the mood of the piece, not so much the imagery or the soundtrack, which remains in the memory. Naturally, I wish it were accessible. At least one sale of a DVD version would be assured.
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