VIY (1967)

Mother Russia makes an appearance in the 101 Horror Movies with the very enjoyable, and well-crafted film VIY, which is apparently based on a folk legend. With a run time of just over an hour, the story flies by, and it’s incredibly entertaining.

Khoma is a brash, irresponsible, a bit of a drunk (which all combine to provide some very comic moments), and an orphan raised by the church, which means of course, that he was brought up in the seminary as a philosopher. One evening, he and two friends lose their way and take refuge at a farmhouse seen over by an old woman.

When the old woman tries to put the moves on him, Khoma attempts to flee, until she enchants him, climbs aboard him, grabs a broom stick and off they fly!

Upon landing, he scrambles away and beats her with a stick, until she transforms before his eyes into a lovely young woman, who calls for help.

Khoma flees back to the seminary, where the Rector has an assignment for him, though he’s loathe to take it. He’s been asked for by name. He’s to go to a tiny village, and pray over the daughter of the town’s master, who has fallen ill, and is dying.

Surprise, surprise, it’s the same girl, and she dies before he arrives.

Her last request is for Khoma to pray over her for three nights to save her soul. Though, we as film goers begin to suspect ulterior motives.

The first night, he’s locked in the church, and begins to pray over her, only to have her rise from her coffin and menace him, stalking him as he cowers in a protective circle he scrawls on the floor.

The next morning, when he;’s released from the church, he says nothing to the locals, keeping his tongue, and trying to formulate a way to escape. To no avail.

His minders guide him back to the church the following night, and once again look him in. This time Khoma, with a healthy level of vodka in his tummy, is determined to face his fears, but his bravery doesn’t last long, as the coffin itself begins to assault him. The nights events culminate in the witch cursing him, turning his hair white.

The following morning, the frightened young man attempts to flee the village, only to be collected by his minders and guided back. He also goes to see the girl’s father who tells me that he either prays over her this one last night, and is paid in 1000 gold pieces or he can have 1000 lashes now.

He settles in for the third night, and all hell quite literally breaks loose in a wonderfully spooky sequence that has some great makeup, character design, and special effects, as legions of demons literally crawl out of the walls with the intention of scaring Khoma to death, including their leader, the demon VIY.

This film was one I really enjoyed, I laughed I marveled at the effects, I enjoyed the acting, I was engrossed in the story, and knew, that each night the assault would get worse, and it didn’t disappoint.

This film I can’t recommend enough, it was a lot of fun, and the third night sequence was brilliant, spooky, and well put together.

The film was a delight. See it.



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