Viy (1967)


(Horror, Comedy, Fantasy, Supernatural, 1967) (12) D: Konstantin Ershov W: Nikolai Gogol C: Leonid Kuravlyov. 1h 17m. Russia/Ukraine.

A young priest is ordered to preside over the wake of witch in a small old wooden church of a remote village. This means spending three nights alone with the corpse with only his faith to protect him

viy or spirit of evilI wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this movie, initially I used to think Russian/Ukraine movies were all a little lo budget and crappy.. Alas I grew up and started watching more movies, realised that what I had seen in the past were critically acclaimed movies and not the stranger stuff that I appreciate and low and behold every country suddenly has an underground current of movies that entertain me… sorry I’m loosing myself here.. Viy (1967) is a lush vibrant gothic horror story. T: It’s based on a book by Nikolai Gogol.

You can read a summary here on the wiki ( and the artist Natalie Shau did a gorgeous photo manipulation that you can see here ( The story had captured many other artists over the years and there is no wonder why, the story is very visual and fascinating.

The broad outline is that a monk/Khoma finds refuge in a barn of an old woman, who comes onto him during the night, he gets scared by the cougar and legs it, he follows him and he beats her to death then he stumbled upon a rich maiden who has died but her last words were his name, so her father insists that the monk says prayers over her for the next three nights, while he does this the body of the maiden, who is actually the witch resurrects itself and torments him and calls apon the Gnomes, Goblins and Viy who is a Goblin who’s eyelids touch the floor and they need to be lifted so he can strike fear into any man.

Cool hey! The monks only protection is a magic circle he draws around himself and his faith.. I won’t say anymore I don’t want to spoil the film, it’s only an hour long and I found it highly entertaining, who knows you might like it..

Still there are few elements which intrigued me, the visual quality and special effects in this movie are great for the budget and time. I’ve always been amazed by USSR animation, claymation etc but the movies were usually long boring sagas that didn’t do much for me until more recent times. But there has always been a high level of creativity.

Now I’m a pagan and I read a lot of folk law stories, especially from Europe but the Viy story never really interested me that much, the early translations of the book are a little hard to comprehend but you can get the general idea of the story, this film kind opened it up for me fully, yeah I know there is always much more in the books but at the end of the day if a film can help someone understand something it can’t be all that bad can it? So I understand the haunting more but the folk law elements are a new mystery to me.

There is one repeating theme once the night task takes place. Circles! Once the monk enters the resting place, the camera starts to circle him, and circle around the room, he draws a circle of protection and the witch often circles the room, the only explanation I can find is this.. “ The circle relates to “chur”, a magical boundary that evil cannot cross” It was quite interesting to see some old school mysticism.

gothic style witch from Viy
gothic style witch from Viy

Once the scary stuff starts the film moves from the old rustic folk life feel of an early burzum album cover into pur 1960/70s psychedelic crazy lighting spooky kooky horror. Goths/Rockabilly and Psychobillies will adore  this. There is something chic about it, but you’ll be bombarded with bats, gholes, a flying coffin and host of other horrors

Q: I summon the vampires! I summon the werewolves! I Summon Viy!!

R:  Volkodav iz roda Serykh Psov/Wolfhound (2007)  Army of Valhalla (2003) Fearless Vampire Killers (1967)  Night Watch (2004) Viy3D (2014)?? The Phantom Carriage (1921)

BS : Flying witch in a coffin!!! Yes she flys a f*cking coffin and she obviously doesn’t have a licence.




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