VIDEO: Viy (1967)

In her belated Halloween special, Full of Questions showcases the first horror movie to ever come out of the Soviet Union. Based on a short story by Nikolai Gogol, which was in turn based on a Ukrainian folk tale, Viy (original title: Вий) tells the story of a priest-in-training who, after beating a woman to death (hey, she was a witch), is forced to spend three days praying over her body… but she’s not quite dead.

And no, in Soviet Russia, film does not review you!

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  • kennzeichen1d

    Finally, a review of “The Viy”.
    After hearing that Mario Bavas “La Maschera del Demonio”/”Black Sunday”
    was based on the Gogol-story, I read it (or – listened to the audio-book)
    and the remarkable thing is:
    The story is about 95 % intakt.
    There are no changes, only little tweaks.
    That usually doesn´t happen with adaptations.

  • TheScottCSmith

    It’s always fascinating to see how a different culture takes something and filters it through its own lens.  I’ve always wanted to see “Solaris” but based on your review, maybe I’ll check out “Viy” first.

    I’m sure you hear suggestions all of the time, but I think it’d be cool to see you review other foreign films on a regular basis, or as a new show.  

    • FullofQuestions1

      I personally don’t like Solaris, but that’s just my taste- I like my movies to be at least slightly kinetic, and I didn’t find the story too interesting (before I start a flame war, yes, I know I’m missing the point). A lot of people like it, and more power to them.

      I may review more foreign films, I’m currently tossing the idea of a New Year special review of Irony of Fate (on the one hand, it’s a classic, on the other hand, it’s three hours long). And I’m always on the lookout for foreign mysteries (Sofie, Ursa, and I have plans to review Russian Sherlock Holmes some time or other).

  • Muthsarah

    The cheesy costumes and effects didn’t hurt my impression of this film at all; I spent almost twenty minutes drinking in the sets and costumes.  I loved how everything non-supernatural looked.  But I’m a total sucker for the Old Russian aesthetic.  I’m surprised a movie like this – supernatural, religious, non-political – came out of the Brezhnev era, especially after what happened to Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev.

    I hope your skepticism over the remake (of which I know nothing) is misplaced, and that they’re not going the cheap Hollywood route of using loud, flashy effects to make up for…well, everything else about a production.  I squee at the idea of a lavish, Gothic (Russian equivalent) horror film with a very different source than the usual tropes of Western or East Asian horror.   Or just anything big and pretty set in old Russia.  You got any recommendations?

  • Russell Brin (Facebook Sux)

    The witch in young girl form seemed like a combination of Samara from the Ring and Regan from the Exorcist, anyone else get that feeling from this review (I haven’t seen the movie just going by the review itself)?


  • Cristiona

    Heh.  “Dude, quit *talking* about the holy words that will protect you and *say* them!”  Then again, his circle’s not so hot.  You’d think a protective circle would stop curses, too.

    All joking aside, this looks quite enjoyable.  The effects are certainly bare-bones, but you’re completely right about writing, acting, and atmosphere being more important.  The original Evil Dead scares the ever-loving shit out of me, and its got some pretty cheesy effects.  Likewise, In The Mouth of Madness terrifies me and it doesn’t rely on effects much until the end, and even those are pretty simple.

    Also, that whole witch-riding-a-traveler motif sounds really, really familiar.  The versions I’ve heard usually involves the young man being ridden until he dies or at least until his feet are all bloody and broken, but for the life of me, I can’t remember where I heard it from.

  • MichaelANovelli

    They’re remaking Viy?  This calls for a vendetta!

    • Russell Brin (Facebook Sux)

      Nice play on words…Viy for Vendetta, where V fights the Viy, and since V is wearing a mask he’s immune, then an out of place Scott Pilgrim beats them both down with a Nerf Football…just cause random movies are awesome.

      • FullofQuestions1

         Maybe it’ll happen- Mendo is, according to my calculations, the 1,000,001st person to make that joke.

        • Russell Brin (Facebook Sux)

          Are you using the World Calculator on World Debt, matched against the Atomic Clock on Actual Time, and transposing on on a Parabolic Scale of Real Logic using Pi as a True Variable to ascertain that calculation?

          • Russell Brin (Facebook Sux)

            And for the record, Dilbert’s boss would say “yeah that sounds OK let’s go with it”

          • FullofQuestions1

            I used the slightly simpler formula of ctrl+f on Youtube comments. Tried the method you suggested, but you know how math and I am- it didn’t work out.

  • I…I kinda want to see the original and the remake of this one, hehe. Just being honest. >_< It looks fantastic, and I want to see if the remake manages to hold up to the original despite having decent modern effects.

    • FullofQuestions1

      You’re right. We shouldn’t assume it’s going to suck. But it’s so tempting…

      • Yeah, well, I generally assume the same thing, so I can’t point any fingers. XD Awesome review as usual!

  • edharris1178

    Awesome, I’ve never heard of this one before.  It looks pretty great.  I noticed from looking it up online that one of the guys behind it is Aleksander Ptushko who also worked on those fantastic looking Russo-Finnish flicks that ended up on MST3K.