Viy (Spirit of Evil)


USSR, 1967, 77’

directed by: Konstantin Jeršov, Georgij Kropačjov

written by: Konstantin Jeršov, Georgij Kropačjov, Aleksandr Ptuško

cast: Leonid Kuravljov, Natalja Varlej, Stĕpan Škurat, Borislav Brondukov

cinematography: Viktor Piščalnikov, Fjodor Provorov

edited by: R. Peseckaja, Tamara Zubova

production: Luch, Mosfilm

The fantasy horror Viy or Spirit of Evil is a loose adaptation of Nikolai Gogol's story of the same title. For a long time it was the only true horror film of the Soviet cinema. Koma, a young student of theology, is coming home for holidays accompanied by his friends. When night catches them on the road, they come to an old lady's house asking for accommodation. She says she will let them in only if all three of them sleep in separate spaces. In the middle of the night the old woman attacks Koma and takes him for a flight on her broom. Koma kills her and she turns into a beautiful young woman before she dies. The girl's body is then taken to a small village church and Koma must spend a three-night wake there. Every night the witch rises from her coffin and – with the help from an army of demons from hell – slowly drives Koma crazy while trying to lure him out of the consecrated circle that protects him. The special effects in the film were made by the animator Alexandr Ptushko, compared with Disney and Mario Bava (the master of giallo films) for his innovative use of colors and camera.

Konstantin Jeršov (1935.- 1984.) He was a director and writer, known for Viy (1967), Grachi (1982) and Chelovek, kotoromu vezlo (1978). Georgij Kropačjov was born in Leningrad, in 1930. He is a production designer and director known for Khrustalyov, My Car! (1998), Garpastum (2005) and Hard to Be a God (2013).