Zmey Gorynych or Zmei Gorynich is a type of fictional giant, often multi-headed Slavic dragons. These dragons have made appearances in various medias including two live action films; the 1939 film Vasilisa the Beautiful the 1956 Soviet film Ilya Muromets or The Sword and the Dragon(US) or The Epic Hero and the Beast(UK).
In mythology and folklore, Zmey/Zmei/Zmeya/Zmeu/Zmiy/Zmaj/Zmij/Smok, and many other different names and related characters, share surprisingly many traits with many other dragons and serpents from other cultures of both Hemispheres. They greatly vary in characteristics; evolved forms of snakes and vipers and carps, protectors and heroes of humans, friends to humans, marry to humans, peace-seeker and prayer to God, guardians of mythical waters, steeds of magicians, living under a city and causes earthquakes when to move, breed with humans and sheep, evil spirits or demons, ghosts, vampires, ogre-like beings, living whirlwinds and mists, transformations of witches, family of evil demons and witches inclding famous Baba Yaga, formidable foes.
They can utilize magics and mythical powers； transforming into dragonewts and humans and animals, utilizing magic swords and guns, pumping up waters from tails (in the form of tornado), causing heavy rains and floods, water deficits and droughts, brings moisture in the form of rainbows (possibly), regeneration, whirlwinds, hails, thunderstorms, possessing humans, fires, venom, flying, being in fiery forms, extremely wide-mouth opening, near-invulnerablities except certain black magicians and foes, and so on. In some versions, corpses produced rivers of wheat and wines and milks and honeys and butters.
Multi-headed dragons are very common from 3 to 12, and at least some of those have regenerative abilities to recover missing heads.
Vasilisa the Beautiful
The Zmey Gorynych in this film is a brother of an old witch. In this version, Zmey has very thick necks and body, and has a pair of disproportionally small arms.
One day, he asked a woman to marry him, but was refused and used his magic to transform the woman into a toad for a punishment.
The woman was saved years after by a hero and the two successfully defeated both the dragon and the witch.
Near the dragon's nest are there dragon or demon-shaped vegetations.
The Zmey Gorynych in the film was the ultimate weapon of a military ruler of Tatar. It was summoned during the last battle, but was defeated.
Both versions had three heads and all of those heads were later cut off.
Vasilisa the Beautiful
Zmey was sapient and could cast magic(s), and could fly without wings. Each neck acquired different breath attacks; fire, poisonous gas, and water.
Similar to 1956 version, this Zmey didn't possess great defense and he was slain by losing three heads.
Zmey Gorynych was a fearsome, winged monster, but didn't speak. It breathed powerful flames from its mouths and enabled to differentiate the types of projectiles; either napalm or flamethrower-like manner or fireballs. These fires and fireballs were powerful and long-ranged.
On the other hand, his/her defense wasn't great; a single shot from a ballista can bring down the dragon and the necks were relatively easy to cut off, except for the heat.
- 1956 version of Zmey Gorynych inspired Toho's King Ghidorah. Later, images of Orochi (1959) and various mythical creatures such as Hydra, Unicorn, Pegasus, and Qilin were added to create King Ghidorah.
- Furthermore, 'Ghidorah' is akin to Russian pronunciation of "Hydra"(Гидра, ˈɡʲidrə) written in Japanese.
- The movie itself was distributed by New Toho in Japan.
- In Japan, Zmey was introduced as King Dragon, a name with similar etymology to that of King Ghidorah.