Viy | Вий | Spirit of Evil [1967]

5/10 | 25.Apr.12
Viy | Вий | Spirit of Evil

DIRECTORS: Konstantin Yershov, Georgi Kropachyov | WRITERS: Georgi Kropachyov, Aleksandr Ptushko, Konstantin Yershov | CAST: Leonid Kuravlyov, Natalya Varley, Aleksei Glazyrin, Nikolai Kutuzov | USSR

Viy, apparently the sole horror movie produced in the Soviet Union, is about as scary as Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel, but it is stylish and an agreeable enough 72 minutes. Based on a Ukrainian folk tale by way of Gogol, it concerns a lazy and unserious seminarian with a taste for vodka who, while travelling on his vacation break from the seminary, beats an old crone witch almost to death only to have her magically transform into a beautiful if comatose young woman. He flees. Back at the seminary he’s told that a local rich landowner’s daughter is near death and has asked for him by name to pray over her deathbed. He arrives, drunk, only to discover that she has died but that he must sit with and pray over her corpse for three nights running at the local church where he’ll be locked in by himself. Of course, the local rich landowner’s dead daughter turns out to be the old crone witch/beautiful young woman he beat up. That’s when the fun begins. The special effects are quite good, considering, and the movie as a whole has a 1940s American B-movie-in-Technicolor look and feel. Viy himself is one of the most ridiculous monsters I’ve ever seen in a movie, but there are some fun vampires climbing the walls on the third night.

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