directors Konstantin Yershov, Georgi Kropachyov
Whether it’s considered horror or just dark fantasy, the 1967 Soviet picture Viy is pretty awesome. Since being turned on to Russian fantastika cinema, I’ve become a still very wet behind the ears devotee.
But up until this point, I’d only seen the films of Aleksandr Rou. One of the other key names that comes up is Aleksandr Ptushko. Ptushko worked on the effects of Viy and the neither of the film’s two directors Konstantin Yershov nor Georgi Kropachyov have many other credits to their names. I’m not attributing anything, just saying what little I can here. Viy is adapted from Ukrainian the folk tales that Nikolai Gogol wrote, for one more key name.
Compared to Rou’s films, it’s quite a bit much more dark, though still very much steeped in the fantasy worlds of Russian storytelling. Other viewers have compared it to Sam Raimi, noting the somewhat comic aspects of the story of a young wastrel of a would-be priest sitting up three nights with the body of a witch that he killed. But oddly I was reminded of aspects of Japanese horror films about the work, a flavor of that, perhaps.
Viy is not nonstop insanity, but it eventually gets there. The visual effects and designs are surprising and strange, building up to a total phantasmagoria at the end, as good as anything I’ve seen. It’s not the kind of horror that will scare you, but Viy is visually wonderful.
I watched this on YouTube, which isn’t something I do often. So worth it, though.