I am not really into horror movies but I find this one different. It is based on a story by Gogol (early 19 cent. Russian writer, Pushkin thought highly of him) who was inspired by Ukranian folklore. Excellent family watching (esp. for a Halloween night). I think it might be reasonably approprate for kids (9 and up, or as soon as they are OK with witches). In fact, this movie was distributed in Moscow (in 70's) through a chain of "movie-theathers for kids".
The movie starts more like a comedy (vacation-bound semenarists mob streat vendors and grab passing girls while running from an Orthodox monastery). The movie gives excellent snap-shots of life in a Ukranian village 200 years ago. An atmosphere of that time is masterfully created. Gradually, the movie shifts towards "horror" as the story line develops around a young seminarist (Khoma). He is forced to come to a small village to pray for three nights over a body of a beautiful maiden who died under misterious circumstances. Each night Khoma is locked in an old wooden church where he gets all sorts of "visitors"... The maiden turned out to be a witch who had some old accounts with Khoma.
Nice acting and directing (Ptushko's movies got a number of awards at Cannes). Some special effects, e.g. flying coffin, are quite good (especially considering that the movie was made in the 60's)... However, true "horror" enthusiasts might be somewhat dissappointed by the very final scene where the witch summons Viy (a version of Devil) to haunt Khoma. The authors would probably come up with a more convincing Devil in the current age of computer graphics.
Special thanks to RUSCICO who produced this excellent DVD for Image Entertainment. The movie is digitally restored. Picture and colors are great. 5.1 surround sound was a surprise.