DirectorKonstantin Yershov, Georgi Kropachyov
Release Date(s)1967 (December 10, 2019)
Studio(s)Luch/Mosfilm (Severin Films)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: C+
Severin Films has been busy releasing a variety of films as of late, from Eurosleaze to the erotic to the undervalued, all on Blu-ray with fresh film transfers and extras. Their last several titles have been no different, offering up a kaleidoscope of cinema’s mostly forgotten films.
Viy is a Soviet Union horror film released in 1967, based upon the novel of the same name by Nikolai Gogol. In it, a priest in training named Khoma (Leonid Kuravlyov) is sent to a small village where the body of a dead woman, whom they believe to be a witch, is being kept in a church nearby. Khoma is hired by the girl’s father to stand watch over the course of three nights and to pray for her soul. However, during his vigil, the girl gets up out of her coffin, threatening him with curses and visions of ghosts and goblins, as well as the titular monster of ancient folklore.
What makes Viy stand apart, aside from its story which builds its tension over the course of the three nights as the attacks on Khoma gradually worsen, is the look of the film. It’s incredibly well-shot with genuine moments of suspense. The witch is truly unnerving, particularly during her moments of anger when the sun rises and she must return to her coffin. The most disappointing moment of the film comes with the appearance of its monster, which is not at all scary, tipping into camp territory unintentionally. However, the other elements surrounding it outshine it, making Viy an undervalued genre film during a period before Russian filmmaking’s golden age.
According to the marketing materials, Viy has been “remastered in HD for the first time ever,” though the source is not identified. It’s a solid high definition presentation, appearing quite natural with excellent color. However, there are minor moments of color fluctuation. The audio is included in Russian and English 2.0 mono DTS-HD. Both tracks feature clear dialogue exchanges and a strong score, though sound effects aren’t always that impactful. The English dub sounds a bit more mechanical, comparatively. English subtitles are also provided for both tracks.
Extras include the following:
- Viy the Vampire: An Interview with Richard Stanley (HD – 22:57)
- From the Woods to the Cosmos: John Leman Riley on the History of Soviet Fantasy and Sci-Fi Film (HD – 34:46)
- Viy Trailer (SD – 1:53)
- The Portrait Short Film (SD – 5:23)
- The Queen of Spades Short Film (SD – 6:25)
- Satan Exultant Short Film (SD – 9:09)
Viy is certainly a title worth your attention if you’re a fan of off-the-wall cinema.
– Tim Salmons