Thursday, July 29, 2010
Release date: 1973
Leptirica (the she-butterfly) is another one of the great sins of vampire cinema, in that it is begging for a fully restored DVD release – possibly as a double set with Kadijevic’s 1990 reworking of Viy, Sveto Mesto.
This film is fascinating because of the very pure Slavic lore the film taps into. It is based on the story “Posle Devedeset Godina” or “90 Years Later” by Milovan Glišić. The story features a folkloric vampire who goes by the name Sava Savanović. The film is so rich in lore that I will, with genuine glee, spoil the story completely.
The men decide to find the grave of Sava Savanović. They question an old woman, Mirjanicka, and eventually get an idea of where the alleged vampire’s grave should be. The search seems futile until one of the men decides to get hold of Zivan’s stallion. We have come across using a horse to find the grave of a vampire before and at this point I would like to start referencing the book The Vampire: A Casebook edited by Alan Dundes – for the sake of this review I have used the edition on Google Books. In the chapter “In Defence of Vampires” by John V A Fine Jr we find a quote by Vuk Karadžić, “they take a black stallion without any spots or marks to the graveyard and lead it among the graves where it is suspected there are vukodlaks, for they say that such a stallion does not dare to step over a vukodlak.”.
The film ends in the morning with Strahinja led motionless in the meadow and the butterfly sat upon his temple. So the film has ended, but what a film. It packs in such a lot of traditional Slavic lore that for the dedicated fan of the genre it is a must see film. I liked the use of the butterfly, which was much more dignified than the use of moths in the Blood Beast Terror. We should remember that Stoker himself mentioned a vampiric affinity with moths in Dracula when he suggested “he can command all the meaner things, the rat, and the owl, and the bat, the moth, and the fox, and the wolf”. In this however, I think the butterfly was representative of the vampire’s soul or spirit.
That aside an important film begging for a full re-mastered international release. 7.5 out of 10. The imdb page is here.