Saturday, 5 February 2011

Fearsome Foes

Viy is fantastical Russian horror film from 1967, a simple fable about a drunken priest who becomes obliged to keep vigil over a young woman's body in her family crypt, he's not too keen however as she's a witch and he killed her during an earlier encounter. It's a little slow to get going but it's a beautifully made film with a hallucinatory palate a la The Singing Ringing Tree and there's plenty of humour in the script that keep things chugging along until it's bizarre nocturnal denoument. The phantasmagoria that besieges the idiot priest over the three nights is stunning, a triumph of imagination given it's budgetary constraints and surprisingly effective. You won't be scared but you will be entertained with this classic folktale.

Ministry of Fear is a rollicking noirish thriller directed by Fritz Land and written by Graham Greene. A mental patient is released back into the world and is almost immediately caught up in some convoluted Nazi intrigue but of course everyone thinks it's all in his mind. Ray Milland heads up a fairly competent cast as the loon on the run and there's plenty of unintentional laughs to be had from it's stuffy, stiff script and quaint depictions of British life. Despite being ridiculous and poorly disguised propaganda it's an entertaining and quite gripping little thriller.

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