Leptirica (1973)

Director: Djordje Kadijević

Writers: Milovan Glisić

Djordje Kadijević

Plot: Story follows young man Strahinja who is in love with a local beauty Radojka, but their relationship has an obstacle – her father Zivan, who considers Strahinja as nothing but a loser.

Cast: Mirjana Nikolić – Radojka

Petar Bozović – Strahinja

Slobodan Perović – Živan

Vasja Stanković – Kmet

Tanasije Uzunović – Pop


After I watched Zone of the Dead the other day, I though to myself that I definitely have to watch some ex-Yu horror movies. So I started my mini “marathon” with Leptirica, a cult movie dating from the early seventies. I’ve heard that it was one of the scariest movies ever made so I really had to check out those rumors furthermore. Well, were the rumors true? No! Does this make Leptirica a bad movie? Hell no!

Leptirica follows 2 interwined stories. The first one is about a vampire who kills local man who dare to sleep in the village mill, and the second one is about a young man, Strahinja, who loves a girl, named Radojka, and we will just do anything to merry her. What I like the most about this movie is that it perfectly follows the life of local village’s folk: you can see their lifes, everyday troubles and strange traditions (even some “pagan” rituals). I could even consider Leptirica as a documentary of some sort, because it is a perfect example of how some people lived back then. In addition to that it also features some social elements (like Strahinja being poor). The horror elements in this movie were done absolutely brilliant, some of them were even very disturbing, unfortunately, during the movie only 3 or 4 scenes feature this kind of atmosphere, which is achieved through some strange shrieking and weird vampire looks. One of the best things in the movie would surely be the twist in the end but I won’t spoil that out. Besides the creepy atmosphere,  Leptirica also offers a very strong cast which fit their roles perfectly (most notably Slobodan Perović as Živan & Tanasije Uzunović as the priest), wonderful. It also has some humorous scenes worth mentioning.

The running time of the movie is about one hour, which is bad, because even though it’s running time is short it easily becomes boring from time to time. Apart from that, I didn’t find Leptirica to be anything special becaus it simply lacks a few more horror scenes, which would surely raise it’s effectiveness. But it still is a decent horror movie you should definitely check out if you haven’t already (especially if you are from the ex-Yu region). Over the years, it gained quite a cult following.

My Rating: 7/10… I gave it a shot and it didn’t disappoint me.

One Response to “Leptirica (1973)”

  1. Firstly, it is a pity that you expected more trills out of this TV movie and wanted a few more scary scenes. This goes totally against the true intent of this movie – it is not a horror of the Western kind with periodic scary scenes to keep you on the edge of your seat. The true achievement of this movie is that “slow” atmosphere in a rural setting. This relaxes the viewer to then deliver its full horror in one last blow (which, thankfully, you do not reveal). I watched this movie first as a 12 year old kid and I vouch that it is still the scariest piece of video that I have ever seen in my whole life.
    Secondly, the pagan rituals are there to show that there is more to spirituality than what the orderly force of Christianity can handle, which is represented by the priest. It is a huge simplification to reduce life to the simplistic battle between the God and the Devil.
    Finally, vampire stories are indigenous to the region of Serbia and Romania (Transilvania). To those interested in the study of ethnicity, the differences between Count Dracula and the She-butterfly are fascinating.

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