Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Viy (1967)

After watching Viy for the second time in my life, I'm both very impressed, but also realize that this is a movie that demands something from it's audience. It's short, but still has a lot of substance and feels heavier than a lot of other genre movies from the same era. This was, I guess, one of the first pure horror movies made in Russia and still is one of the most bizarre original movies I've seen from The Great Bear. Based on a folk tale written down by Nikolai Gogol, it's a stunning movie from start to finish.

A young, but lazy and slightly stupid, priest (or I guess he will become a priest or something similar) is first kidnapped by an old witch, who he beats to death (almost anyway) after a horrifying broom-trip. Well, she's actually a young women and before she dies she wishes that the young priest will read for her when she's dead. He's forced to go to the farm where she lives where her father and everyone else makes him stay with the dead woman for three whole nights. He's locked in the church together with her, and only protected by a holy chalk-circule he's attacked for three nights in a row by the resurrected woman... and the demons she brings with her from hell!

What I think could scare people away from this movie is that it's 78 minutes long, and feels like two hours. It takes it's time showing what's happening, and it could be a bit repetitive after a while. But the Russians during this time knew what they where doing, because everything builds up and up and up, until a final that makes you forget that slow beginning. It sounds like a plan from the beginning, because what looks like a slow-moving fairy tale soon becomes filled with a lot of fantastic moments of possession, monsters, visual and practical effects and some greepy moments. The woman, the witch, is like a more active and action-filled version of those Japanese girls that has been haunting our screens for to long now, but she's cooler and more aggressive.

The special effects is amazing, and it has some stunning scenes of demons crawling out from the walls, giant hands trying to grab our hero and a lot more that I just don't want to spoil. The scenes inside the church is the best in the movie, and the excellent cinematography and lightning echoes Hammer and Italian horror. It's colorful, but when the really disturbing stuff hits in the last reels there's a cool B&W-effect that distances the hero from the monsters, and I have no idea who they did that. It looks great.

If you can stand the slow start, prepar for a movie that will blow you away during the last half. This is a masterpiece, a pure masterpiece.


CiNEZiLLA said...

Wonderfull choice of movie!

That one is a magnificent piece indeed. I wrote a pretty big piece on it some years ago on the constructinghorror site and I still get emails from people wanting to know where to find the film.

That ending is just as impressive each time I see it, and I'm glad that you take that up in your great review.

Fred said...

The slow beginning makes everything else so impressive and stunning. I can imagine how the directors sat there planning how to surprise the audience, and decided to go this way - and fucking ey, it works perfectly!

dfordoom said...

I loved Gogol's story but didn't know there was a movie. Now I must track it down!

lizzardking said...

Thanks for the tip once again :D

Alex Bakshaev said...

Read the source story, but only saw fragments of the film. Have heard nothing but good about it so far!

CiNEZiLLA said...

I seem to have some recollection of this movie being remade by some Ruskie. I think it was one of the newer visual wizkids.

Jack J said...

I watched this some 6 or 7 yrs ago when a member of a little video club had chosen it for that night. I remember having this discussion of whether we were to watch it dubbed into English (which he preferred) or in Russian, haha. Great film.