A Lively and Fun fairy tale like horror based on a short
story by russian literary gigant Nikolaj Gogol and
supposedly the only horror film made during the Soviet Union era. It's
short and simple but great entertainment
to watch, not least because of the inspired effects created (or supervised)
by the legendary russian filmmaker
and inventive special effects creator Aleksandr Ptushko. Everything
in this film is building up to the 3 nights of
horror ending where the revengeful witch brings down all sorts of demons
to make mincemeat out of the
unlucky priest seminar student Khoma. I haven't found this great film
on a DVD/Bluray but luckily it can be
watched on Youtube in streaming video and with english subtitles, and
in OK picture quality
This film is based on the Gogol story and that supposedly
is based on an old ukrainian folktale, so the film
starts at the Kiev Seminary where we see the students leave for some
vacation. Khoma Brutus (very well
played by Leonid Kuravlev) and 2 fellow seminarists lose their way and
asks for night accommodation at
a house somewhere in the countryside. A delightfully ugly old woman
takes them in ... and yes, i'm not
misogynistic here, she's really ugly and was played by a male actor
(Nikolai Kutuzov) just to be that.
However, there won't be any peaceful night with nice sleep for Khoma
as the witch jumps on his back and
takes him on a ride through the night skies and happily cackles with
a broom in her hand.
Khoma does not like it and after landing he severely
beats the old "lady", and badly injured she transforms
into a girl (played by Natalya Varley). Full of horror Khoma flees.
Back at the seminary he's told that the daughter of a landowner/Cossac
has been beaten badly by some
unknown miscreant and is dying, and that she has asked for Khoma to
come and pray for her.
Khoma tries to avoid this duty but finally has to go and when he arrives
the girl's dead, and ...
... now we're in for the Big Ending and the reason for
this film being made - The Triple Night of Horrors
Khoma has to spend 3 nights with prayers at the dead
girls side, lying in her coffin in the small chapel placed
on the estates premises. The friendly farm workers give him a lot of
booze to endure the tests to come.
Well, it doesn't take long for the girl to wake up and to rise from
her coffin (see pic above).
She's furious for revenge and wisely Khoma draws a protective circle
with a piece of chalk, so she can't
reach him, but does she try ... And here's a mighty impressive scene
where The Girl tries to get into his circle
and moves around and around and the camera swirls around and around,
it's GREAT filmmaking with small
means and this beautiful girl, she's a bit scary. Also, there's a great
scene where she flies around in her coffin.
As she can't get into his circle she now invokes all
dark forces to attack poor Khoma, an assortment of strange
vampires, demons and including the curious looking and powerful slavic
spirit The Viy. Clearly as some comic
relief as he/she/it looks like a 1960's mexican film monster made out
This film is GREAT FUN for every true horror film lover and very recommended
- essential viewing