Viy – aka Spirit of Evil, original title: Вий – is a 1967 Russian horror film directed by Konstantin Yershov and Georgi Kropachyov from a screenplay co-written with Aleksandr Ptushko, based on the Nikolai Gogol story of the same name. It stars Leonid Kuravlev and Natalya Varley.
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…
Originally a Ukrainian folk story, this was officially the first horror film released in the USSR. Some of the ‘witch’ scenes and the ending where Viy appears were toned down due to technological limitations as well as then current restrictions on Soviet film production.
A modern version starring Jason Flemyng was in production for several years, being released in 2012. A 1990 Serbian version of the film, called “A Holy Place” was shown during the Fantasia Festival 2010.
Reviews [click links to read more]:
“The second and third witch attacks are among Ptushko’s finest work, as the witch rides her coffin in circles through the air, monsters pour from the walls, giant hands erupt from the floor, and “Viy” himself makes an appearance for the grand finale.” Nathaniel Thompson, Mondo Digital
“If you can stand the slow start, prepare for a movie that will blow you away during the last half. This is a masterpiece, a pure masterpiece.” Ninja Dixon