Thursday, February 10, 2011

Viy Review

Viy, 1967
Reviewed By: Dan S
Directed By: Konstantin Yershov and Georgi Kropachyov
Written By: Aleksandr Lukich Ptushko, Konstantin Yershov, and Georgi Kropachyov
Starring: Leonid Kuravlyov, Natalya Varley
Launguage: Russian

Filmed in rich cool colors with creepy sets and real European countryside locations, the Russian period piece Viy is a very unique looking film. At a brisk 78 minutes, the tight narrative is mostly whimsical in tone but dread slowly rises as the mind blowing climax approaches. Lacking any real violence, a constant spooky atmosphere and jaw dropping supernatural visuals generate most of the terror. However, the style is always slapstick in nature, often giving the impression of a live action cartoon. It wouldn’t be until Sam Raimi’s considerably more violent Evil Dead Trilogy that surreal horror and comedy walked hand in hand so effortlessly and most importantly, so exciting and creatively.

Directors Konstantin Yershov and Georgi Kropachyov have a wild modern style that incorporates expressive camera work and sporadic hallucinogenic elements. The convincing but weird special effects are most interesting; a combination of wire work, cut film, ghoulish make up, theatrical puppetry, and freaky camera tricks that give life to an undead witch, her flying casket, and ultimately an army of disembodied hands, malformed demons, skeletons, and everything else that goes bump in the night. As a drunken cowardly monk in training, Leonid Kuravlyov gives a wide eyed energetic performance. His bumbling physical humor and cartoonish facial expressions are a blast to watch but he’s also sympathetic and convincing as a man losing his mind under the pressure of constant other worldly threat. As the witch, gothic beauty Natalya Varley has the right combination of allure, comedy, and menace…much like the movie itself.


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