Friday, November 27, 2015

Viy, Soviet Horror

In this blog's never ending quest to span the world, today we visit one of my favorite countries...Russia!  Actually, "Viy" was made in 1967, hence, technically it was the Soviet Union.  Also known as "Spirit of Evil," we have a horror film, with some comedic elements, pitting evil against the faith of a hapless monk.  In an age old tale, put onto the screen by directors Konstantin Ershov and Goergiy Kropachyov, we learn that even in the Soviet Union, horror and good humor were alive and well. Though this film was made in Moscow, it is set in the outskirts of Kiev.
On a break from the rectory, Khoma (Leonid Kuravlyov) gets lost in the countryside.  He takes refuge at an old farmhouse.  Uh's a witch's abode.  The witch, an old hag, commandeers him and she soars into the sky with a horrified Khoma.  As the witch lands, Khoma beats her senseless.  While he is slugging her, the witch changes into a beautiful young girl.  Khoma flees back to his rectory, determined not to share his story. Once back at the rectory, the Rector summons Khoma.  It seems a very rich donor to the rectory has a beautiful young daughter who was left beaten by the side of the road and will die very soon.  The young girl's last words to her dad were to summon a monk named Khoma in order that he could pray over her corpse for three days. Khoma is horrified and tries everything to get out of this assignment.  No dice.
The dad seems to be the only one who thinks his daughter was pure as the driven snow. The townspeople all know Khoma will be in for the ride of his life.  For three nights Khoma will be locked in the church to say prayers.  Each night, the beauty rises out of the coffin and attempts to get at Khoma.  During the day, Khoma diets on vodka, but during the night he sinks into the Bible and prayers in order to ward off this unholy entity.  Each night the torment gets more intense as the beautiful witch summons forces from Hell to include vampires, werewolves, skeletons, and other monstrosities to beset Khoma.  As Khoma's will and faith seem to crack, the third night will prove to be an epic battle, when our pathetic monk will meet Viy.
Will Khoma's faith remain intact and strong enough to ward off the evil that seeks him? What is Viy? Made in 1967 by the Soviets, perhaps Viy is a metaphor for President Lyndon Johnson's inability to craft a foreign policy which understood the needs of the Soviet people (...yeah, probably not). Or perhaps, this is just a classic horror story. Lots of great monster f/x take over in the final 15 minutes of this film.  For tons of fun, take in this classic tale from an era that is fading from our memory.   


  1. I'm chicken of Kiev!

  2. This is Nikolay Gogol's masterpiece filming.

  3. This is Nikolay Gogol's masterpiece filming.