R: Wladyslaw Starewicz. B: Nikolay Gogol (short story). D: Andrej Gromov, Ivan Lazarev. P: Unknown. RUS 1915
Based on a story by Nikolay Gogol, this film must have run about 45 minutes long, but only this 8 minute fragment is known to have survived so far.
“While the horror genre as an industrial output was never dominant, Russian film-makers regularly enganged with an examination of dark narratives, the phantasmagorical and the mystical in supernatural and modernist re-appropiations of repressed folk motifs. The themes of the supernatural and the fantastic were evident already in Russia’s earliest films of the 1910s: The Secrets of House No. 5 (Kai Hansen, 1912) is a detective drama with elements of mysticism and the spirit world; Wladyslaw Starewicz’s adaption of Gogol’s Noch pered Rozhdestvom (The Night before Christmas, 1913), Strashnaia mest’ (The Terrible Vengeance, 1913) and Portret The Portrait, 1915) all operate in a dark and unsettling atmosphere with themes of horror, folktales and the macabre.”
Natalie Ryabchikova: Horror. In: Birgit Beumers (ed.): Directory of World Cinema: Russia 2. Intellect Books 2015, p. 155