Select Page

European folk-horror film “THE SAVAGE HUNT OF KING STAKH” restored for Blu-ray release this summer

Tuesday, April 9, 2024 | Blu-ray/DVD, News


It’s the first release from a new alliance of genre-centric companies.

Deaf Crocodile, a specialist in world cinema and animation titles, has announced a new pact with DiabolikDVD, the largest independent on-line distributor of specialty disc editions. The first of their joint releases of Deluxe Slipcase Edition Blu-rays will be THE SAVAGE HUNT OF KING STAKH, a 1980 folk horror film by Belarusian filmmaker Valeri Rubinchik. This North American Blu-ray debut will feature the 126-minute director’s cut, co-presented with Seagull Films and newly restored by Deaf Crocodile co-founder and head of postproduction and restoration Craig Rogers.

Scripted by Rubinchik and Vladimir Korotkevich from the novel by Uladzimir Karatkievich, the movie stars Boris Plotnikov, Elena Dimitrova, Albert Filozov and Roman Filippov. The synopsis: “ ‘We have more ghosts than live people,’ murmurs the pale, haunted mistress of the mansion of Marsh Firs [Dimitrova] to a scholar of ancient folklore [Plotnikov] who has arrived at her castle to research the bloody legend of King Stakh, a murdered 15th-century nobleman whose spirit supposedly thunders through the local woodlands. The Wild Hunt is a fixture of northern European folklore in which a sinister figure leads a chase followed by ghostly companions. Part folk horror, part supernatural mystery, KING STAKH is a melancholy, chilling mixture of Terry Gilliam, Italian Gothic Horror, 1960s Hammer Films, and THE WICKER MAN–and a major rediscovery for genre fans. The longer the young scholar stays in this mysterious house of ‘shadow, gloom, madness, and death’ the more strange and surreal the imagery becomes: a mad widow in a white wig; a man bleeding spontaneously from his skull; a dwarf hiding in a decayed doll’s house; screeching ravens and maniacal puppet shows.”

THE SAVAGE HUNT OF KING STAKH will be available for presale via the DiabolikDVD and Deaf Crocodile websites beginning July 1. This slipcased edition includes the following special features:

  • New commentary track by comics artist (SWAMP THING), film historian and author Stephen R. Bissette
  • New commentary track by Mike White of The Projection Booth
  • ”The Wild, Wild Hunt of King Stakh”: New video essay by film historian Evan Chester
  • Video introduction by filmmaker and author Kier-La Janisse (WOODLANDS DARK AND DAYS BEWITCHED: A HISTORY OF FOLK HORROR)
  • 60-page illustrated booklet including a new essay by film historian and professor Peter Rollberg (HISTORICAL DICTIONARY OF RUSSIAN AND SOVIET CINEMA) and a new essay by film critic Walter Chaw (Film Freak Central)
  • New art by Beth Morris and comics artist David W. Mack (KABUKI, Marvel Comics’ ECHO)

“I’ve been a huge fan and customer of Jesse Nelson and DiabolikDVD for many years now, so it’s wonderful to be collaborating with them for the next stage of Deaf Crocodile,” says co-founder and head of acquisitions and distribution Dennis Bartok. “I’m a physical media collector myself, and Craig and I are thrilled to be working with the best in the business when it comes to carrying rare and wonderful film treasures–not only from the U.S. but from all over the world. His commitment to supporting physical media and their emphasis on working with often-neglected and overlooked filmmakers truly aligns with our passions at Deaf Crocodile.”

“We’re incredibly excited to be partnering with Jesse,” says Rogers. “DiabolikDVD has been fans’ go-to on-line shop for wonderful and hard-to-find cinema for decades, and this new partnership will allow Deaf Crocodile to explore ideas that have been percolating in our minds for some time now. The new expanded Deluxe Editions will be absolutely gorgeous and allow for more in-depth essays from some of the best folks working in the field today–and they’ll look great on your shelf!”

“I’m thrilled to be able to offer Deaf Crocodile titles exclusively as part of our extensive cult movie catalog,” says DiabolikDVD owner Nelson. “While we certainly have made our name on selling horror titles, we have also curated a selection of lesser-known world cinema over the years and as a film fan, Deaf Crocodile’s films align perfectly with the store and my personal taste. This will be a long and fruitful relationship and allow customers to be able to continue expanding their Deaf Crocodile collection from a trusted independent retailer.”

Deaf Crocodile is also offering six-month and 12-month subscriptions; the first enrollment period begins in June at the DiabolikDVD site, with SAVAGE HUNT OF KING STAKH as the first title.

Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold (RUE MORGUE's Head Writer) has been covering the world of horror cinema for over three decades, and in addition to his work for RUE MORGUE, he has been a longtime writer and editor for FANGORIA magazine and its website. He has also written for BIRTH.MOVIES.DEATH, SCREAM,, TIME OUT, DELIRIUM, MOVIEMAKER and others. He is the author of the AD NAUSEAM books (1984 Publishing) and THE FRIGHTFEST GUIDE TO MONSTER MOVIES (FAB Press), and he has contributed documentaries, featurettes and liner notes to numerous Blu-rays, including the award-winning feature-length doc TWISTED TALE: THE UNMAKING OF "SPOOKIES" (Vinegar Syndrome).