Blu-Ray Review: Viy

the witch in Viy

Delving deep into Ukrainian folklore, Nikolai Gogol’s Viy remains a perennial favourite across Russia. Since it’s first publication as part of a novella in the 19th century, it has captured the imagination of countless generations. Whilst there have been many adaptations, Konstantin Ershov and Georgiy Kropachyov’s 1967 film still remains the most notable. Indeed, it was the first Soviet-era horror film to be released within the country and remains a classic.

After an encounter with an old lady who puts a spell on him, but changes into a beautiful young woman (Natalya Varley) when he beats her to near death, Khoma Brutus (Leonid Kuravlyov) is relieved to return to his seminary. Only to be summoned by the rector and sent back to the farm which is owned by a rich merchant. His daughter, who asked for him by name, has now died but the young man is made to hold vigil and pray for her soul for three nights.

Viy mixes myth and legend with the dazzling visual panache of Aleksandr Ptushko brilliant imagination. What starts off as a typically Eastern European fable soon morphs into a dizzyingly grotesque horror. As it reaches its crescendo, it’s hard to keep up. The action is beautifully handled and paced to perfection. Kuravlyov is wonderful as the unlucky Khoma, a man fated to suffer an evil curse. Viy is a wild and wacky descent into occult madness.

Special features:

  • Limited Edition Exclusive O-Card slipcase
  • LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE BONUS DISC: A HOLY PLACE [Sveto mesto] (1990, dir. Djordje Kadijevic) A adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s short story and a stunning example of Serbian Gothic cinema from director Djordje Kadijevic. Described by critic Dejan Ognjanovic as “an unparalleled excess of perversity and terror”
  • New Interview with A HOLY PLACE director Djordje Kadijevic (Limited Edition Exclusive Only)
  • 1080p presentation on Blu-ray
  • Original Russian mono audio
  • Optional English mono audio
  • Optional English subtitles and English SDH
  • Brand new audio commentary with film historian and eastern European cinema expert Michael Brooke
  • Brand new video essay on Russian novelist and VIY author Nikolai Gogol
  • Archival documentary on VIY
  • Three Russian silent film fragments, The Portrait [1915, 8 mins], The Queen of Spades [1916, 16 mins], and Satan Exultant [1917, 20 mins]
  • Newly commissioned sleeve artwork by Peter Savieri
  • A collector’s booklet featuring a new essay on Aleksandr Ptushko by Tim Lucas, and a new essay by Serbian writer and film critic Dejan Ognjanovic

The limited-edition Blu-ray of Viy is released by Eureka Entertainment as part of their Masters of Cinema collection on 15 March.  

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