Viy

Film, 1967

When I rented this movie I was told that it was a sort of proto-Tim Burton piece. There are definite Tim Burton flourishes, from the Gorey-esque imagery to the Danny Elfman sounding score, but I might be more inclined to describe it as a cross between Terry Gilliam and Evil Dead. The story revolves around a young seminarian who is forced to pray for three nights over the corpse of a young woman he accidentally beat to death. It’s pretty much just about the horror, but if a theme can be found it’s the dogged determination that people can have of denying their mistakes, and the consequences that can bring (namely, a bunch of herky-jerky monsters crawling out of the walls and pawing at you). I think Gilliam is a better contemporary for Viy because the production is so colorful and the mood is often so silly. Mostly as a result of it’s characters, a group of outrageously stereotypical Russians, magnificently mustachioed and drunk on Vodka. But while being a little goofy it also presents no small number of genuinely odd images. And that’s where Evil Dead comes in; the creatures twitch, convulse and relentlessly torment the protagonist much in the same way that nasties in Evil Dead did fifteen years later. Not to mention the wild camera and sound work, which make the movie feel downright modern. There are problems, mostly the erratic lighting that jumps from looking like it’s early morning to mid-afternoon from shot to shot, but overall Viy proves to be a fantastic movie to wallow in the weirdness of. 4



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