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 (aka "A Woman After a Killer Butterfly" or "Woman with Butterfly Tattoo" or "Woman Chasing the Butterfly of Death"

or "A Woman After a Killer Butterfly" or "Killer Butterfly" or "Living Dead Girl")


Directed by Ki-young Kim
South Korea 1978


Like a kind of crazy cinematic ghost train ride, WOMAN CHASING THE BUTTERFLY OF DEATH take us on a journey deep into the darkness of one man's fears and fantasies. That man is Young-gul, a lonely and rather morbid student in late 1970's South Korea. Narrowly surviving a murder-suicide attempt by a woman wearing a butterfly pendant, he next finds himself besieged by a seemingly insane bookseller who claims he can never die. Even after Young-gul burns the man's body his skeleton comes back to taunt him. As if that weren't enough, the poor student then finds himself the victim of a beautiful thousand year old woman (she looks about 25) who says she is hungry and wants to eat his liver!

The director, Kim Ki-young, was one of Korea's most successful film makers. His 1960 production THE HOUSEMAID is now a recognized classic of world cinema. With this film he goes far beyond the bounds of the real and takes us into a world where anything seems possible, a world where a kind of dream logic rules. Almost impossible to summarize, the film is nevertheless insanely enjoyable. A real one-of-a-kind production that opens our eyes to the limitless possibilities of cinema.


Nam Koong won stars as Kim Young-gul, a miserable student stumbling through three scenarios, each one more insane than the last. In the first, he heads to the country with some buddies to catch butterflies. There he meets cute with a young woman who's waiting for her friend. She tells him, “People’s deaths are just as trivial as a butterfly’s death. Want some juice?” He accepts, and after chugging it down she asks, “Is death really noble? The juice is poisoned. I don’t want to die alone.” He’s miffed, but she’s delighted. “We’ll be going to heaven together!” she crows before keeling over dead, sending him running through the field screaming, “I’m dying!” before collapsing, and waking up in a hospital where a cop informs him that not only has he been cleared of the murder, but he can have the butterfly necklace the woman who tried to poison him was wearing when she died, because who wouldn't want a souvenir? For those keeping count, the movie is just past its five minute mark.

Excerpt from FilmComment located HERE


Theatrical Release: December 2nd, 1978

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Review: Mondo Macabro - Region FREE - Blu-ray

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Distribution Mondo Macabro - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:56:41.583        

2.35:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 41,511,769,663 bytes

Feature: 30,743,535,744 bytes

Video Bitrate: 31.93 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate Blu-ray:


DTS-HD Master Audio Korean 0 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Mondo Macabro


2.35:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 37,471,315,571 bytes

Feature: 30,857,963,520 bytes

Video Bitrate: 31.93 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video


Edition Details:

Audio commentary by Kenneth Brorsson and Paul Quinn of the What's Korean Cinema?" Podcast.

Interview with Darcy Paquet. (14:59)
Interview with actress Lee Hwa-si. (11:22)
Interview with producer Jeong Jin-woo.
-Part 1: Jeong on Jeong (16:06)
-Part 2: Jeong on Kim (12:59)
Interview with cinematographer Koo Jong-mo. (06:26)
More from Mondo (trailers) (13:50)
Mondo Macabro previews

Blu-ray Release Date:
October 22nd, 2019
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 10




NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Mondo Macabro Blu-ray (November 2019): The bonkers 1978 film "Woman Chasing the Butterfly of Death" (aka "Killer Butterfly", "Living Dead Girl", "A Woman After a Killer Butterfly", "Woman with Butterfly Tattoo") has its world premiere is on a dual-layered Region-Free Blu-ray from Mondo Macabro. The 1-hour-56-minute film features a high-bitrate (in the thirties). The film's press release claims that this is a "4k transfer from film negative." The transfer has a softer look (with some wild lighting techniques discussed in the commentary below) so there aren't any moments of real clarity to the details. The lack of the word 'original' in that description of the source could mean that this is from a secondary print, but I can't say for sure. What is on display is a print full of vertical line scratches, cigarette burn blips (or cue blips) indicating reel changes, and various instances of other damage and a 'clunky' appearance. To some this may be distracting but I find that it just adds to the midnight-screening nature of the film in question. Darker scenes reveal a weak spectrum of blacks, though this could be in part to the source material (whatever that may be). At the end of the day the film is the thing here, and ohh what a thing...

Blu-ray of "Woman Chasing the Butterfly of Death" from Mondo Macabro features a Korean 2.0 DTS-HD track (16-bit) that does little to impress. While the dialogue seems to be intelligible (I don't speak Korean so it is hard to say) the sound effects and music are effective if slightly flat. The score is from Sang-gi Han (The Housemaid). There are optional English subtitles on this Region Free Blu-ray from Mondo Macabro.

The first bonus feature available here is an audio commentary by Kenneth Brorsson and Paul Quinn of the "What's Korean Cinema?" Podcast. The director's themes revolved around the psychology of female characters, having femme fatales and various other psychosexual melodrama and horror elements. The two are wise not to omit certain taboo subjects from the conversation as well, such as the director's penchant for negatively portraying female characters in a negative light. To my mind, this is more of a symptom of depicting Freudian psychosexual melodramas (with various negative archetypes born out fear/anxiety of the feminine other/self) than anything regarding the director's personal views on women (though I could be wrong, and often am). This audio commentary also features some behind-the-scenes information, for example I had no idea that director Kim Ki-young was brought onto the project due to his ability to "turn around a project quickly and cheaply when it was needed" regardless of the subject matter. I was most fascinated to learn about the film's use of lighting through colored glass bottles, I won't spoil anymore, but I highly recommend this track for fans of the film. The two speakers are both eloquent and succinct (a silly side note -- around the 13:32 mark, one of the commentators phones has an alert signal go off, the same noise as this reviewer's own phone, thus creating a lot of confusion in my apartment.) They are also willing to have fun and laugh along with the film during the sillier moments (see the 'pastry machine' sequence). Mondo Macabro have also included a handful of interviews here, starting with a 15-minute interview with Darcy Paquet. A series of title cards preceding the interview state, "Darcy Paquet is an American film critic, university lecturer, author and actor. He has lived in Seoul since 1997. In 2011, Paquet was awarded the Korea Film Reporters Association Award at the 15th Busan International Film Festival for his contributions in introducing Korean cinema to the world. Darcy Paquet is the founder of koreanfilm.org ". Following Paquet is an 11.5-minute interview with actress Lee Hwa-si. The introduction here reads, "Actress Lee Hwa-si starred in seven films directed by Kim Ki-young. She was so closely associated with his films that she became known as his "persona". In the 1980s, when Kim's films fell out of favor, she took smaller roles in other directors' works.

In 1982 she left South Korea to live in Canada, abandoning her acting career until 2007." Her interview follows this introduction. Next up are two interviews with Jeong Jin-woo (Part 1 is the 16-minute "Jeong on Jeong" while Part 2 is the 13-minute "Jeong on Kim". Jeong's intro reads, "Jeong Jin-woo was one of South Korea's most successful film makers. He produced 95 films and directed 53. He produced three films with Kim Ki-young, including 'Woman Chasing the Butterfly of Death'. Jeong Jin-woo was not only an important director, he was also a major producer, making 95 films in that capacity. In 1968 he produced the portmanteau film 'Woman' ('Yeo. Yeo. Yeo'), which he co-directed together with Kim Ki-young and Yun Hyeon-mok. Later, in 1971, he would produce 'Woman of Fire' - directed by Kim Ki-young. a remake of Kim's 1960 film 'The Housemaid'. In 1978 he produced 'Woman Chasing the Butterfly of Death'. Here he talks about how he met Kim Ki-young and his memories of working with him." The final interview is with cinematographer Koo Jong-mo, introduced here, "Cinematographer Koo Jong-mo worked with many of the great names associated with the 'golden age' of Korean cinema. Here he discusses their different working methods and the influence they had on Korean cinema. In particular we hear about Im Kwon-taek and Kim Ki-young." A 14-minute reel of Mondo Macabro trailers rounds out the extras on this Blu-ray disc.

Mondo Macabro has had a special place in my heart ever since I was exposed to their "Lady Terminator" DVD many years ago. To date they must have one of the wildest curated selections of film imaginable ("Mystics in Bali", "Der Fan", "The Blood Rose", "Alucarda", "Symptoms", and "Lifespan" come to mind, and boy do they come to mind). "Woman Chasing the Butterfly of Death" certainly fits into the Mondo Macabro mold. The world premiere on Blu-ray is apparently 4k? and features some great extra features, including an audio commentary worth checking out. Let me just say that if these attached pull quotes on the press release don't entice you, nothing will;

Tumbles headlong into the realm of the fantastic, with talking severed heads, a reincarnated 2000-year old woman, and slain humans transforming into butterflies. --Darcey Paquet , FAR EAST FILM

The whole thing is extremely enjoyable, and the scene where the hero has sex with a ghost next to an automatic toaster has to be seen to be believed. --Time Out 

Colin Zavitz


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