Spookshow

Shadowplay!

Craziness from VIY, a Russian fantasy film based (faithfully!) on a story by Nikolai Gogol.

The story was also the source for Mario Bava’s BLACK SUNDAY / MASK OF SATAN, but Bava and his co-scenarists changed the story out of all recognition — possibly out of fear of touching on religious matters. One gets the impression they only left Gogol’s name in the credits to lend the film class. Not that they need have worried, that seminal slice of Italian gothic is in a class by itself.

But the Italian version uses just the Russian setting and the idea of a cursed dead girl, whereas Georgi Kropachyov and Konstantin Yershov’s film follows Gogol’s tall tale fairly exactly, expanding it from short story form by the simple method of vastly inflating the fantasy sequences with hordes of phantoms (Gogol’s story is already pretty excessive). The above is only a small selection from the carnival of creeps at the climax.

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