Butterfly Kiss (1995) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Eunice (Amanda Plummer), the main character in The Butterfly Kiss, is crazy. Her main goal in life is to visit every motorway petrol station near the English seacoast.

"Hey", you're thinking, "that's certainly eccentric - but is it really 'crazy'? Why choose such a strong word?"

Well, I have to say there are two strong indicators of her madness:

1. She is visiting petrol stations on foot. She doesn't have a car.

2. When she arrives at each station, she kills anyone there who is not named Judith. (Judith seems to be an ex-lover.)

She also keeps up her dedication to the slaughter of non-Judith individuals when she is traveling between petrol stations. This routine, however,  is not as firmly established and formulaic as the station murders. Think of it more as a tune-up, or staying in shape.

One day she meets a woman who is not named Judith, but lets her live, because this particular non-Judith is kind and innocent, and rather slow-witted. The gentle non-Judith (actually named "Miriam", played by Saskia Reeves) takes Eunice home with her and they are soon in bed. She finds out that Eunice doesn't wear underwear. Instead, she has heavy chains draping her body beneath her clothes, like some kind of latter day flesh-bound Jacob Marley. Indeed, in the spirit of Marley, she wears the chains to punish herself for her crimes. Since her life has been nothing but crime, the chains are getting quite elaborate, and she now has more heavy metal on her than the entire def lepperd fan club.

The girls have a night of loving. In the morning, Miriam arises to find Eunice gone and a message written on the mirror - "your not Judith".  Miriam then decides to track the mysterious Eunice down, because nobody else has ever kissed her, or maybe just to correct her spelling. Although she is the caregiver for a helpless old granny, Miriam is willing to forget about the old biddy entirely, in her single-minded quest for Eunice, who in turn is still on her own quest for Judith. Since she has no idea where Eunice is, Miriam must visit every petrol station in the UK, inquiring at each about recently murdered non-Judiths. In the true spirit of the quest, she doesn't have a car, either.

The two women eventually do hook up and become a feminist crime spree team, Eu and Mi (get it?), and poor Miriam, despite the best and cheeriest of intentions, consistently fails to reform Eunice's little criminally insane quirks.

The story is narrated in flashback by Miriam from prison, with the screenwriter's tongue so deeply buried in his cheek that the story plays out as an oh-so-serious and not very good drama unless you really pay attention to what she is saying. If you do focus in on the narration and what the characters are saying, which is not easy because of their working class Northern accents, you'll see that it is a pitch black comedy. It reminds me of the famous Piranha Brothers sketch from Monty Python, except that the exaggeration is not sufficient to create an immediate crossover into farce.


There is full frontal nudity from Amanda Plummer, as well as several scenes in which she exposes her breasts, both with and without piercings and chains.

Saskia Reeves shows her breasts while on her back in a sex scene.

The none-too-bright Miriam was obviously deeply in love with Eunice, totally devoted to her, and completely in awe of her, which gives her nostalgic looks back at their crimes this kind of ring:

"Sure she killed him. Well, she had to, didn't she? He had transgressed the unwritten law"

Disappointingly, Eunice did not nail anybody's spleen to a coffee table.


A couple of examples of the offbeat humor:

1. Miriam offers to dispose of one of Eunice's corpses. The self-centered Eunice leaves Miriam to work alone in the woods, then comes back from socializing and tells her hard-working accomplice that she buried the body all wrong, and has to do it over again.

2. A perverted vacuum cleaner salesman picks up the two women and invites them to a threesome. When they seem unimpressed by his choice of occupations, he responds with his best Ringo Starr impersonation and words to this effect: "well, they're not really vacuum cleaners, are they? They're complete home sanitation systems."

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Full-screen format

  • no important features

  • poor visual quality (undersaturated)

Many critics liked it, but I didn't. I am so unsophisticated that I prefer my comedy to be obviously funny. I laughed some, but not much, and I was consistently bored.

For a counterpoint, read Roger Ebert's review. He gave it three and a half stars, despite the fact that the humor seems to have eluded him completely. Therefore, he rated it as a superlative character-based drama.


Eunice is an itinerant, who travels from one gas station to another along the coast supposedly looking for "Judith". She kills each clerk who isn't Judith, until she meets Miriam. The film is narrated in flashback by Miriam, presumably from prison or a mental hospital. Miriam is painfully shy, hearing impaired, and lives with her invalid mother. For some reason, Eunice doesn't kill her. She sits outside, and Miriam joins her, after seeing Eunice douse herself with gasoline. Miriam takes Eunice home, and the two become intimate. The next morning, Eunice is gone, Miriam follows, and eventually starts traveling with her, usually in vehicles stolen from Eunice's latest murder victim.

Miriam is out to save Eunice, and explains that you have to see the good in people. Eunice, for her part, is not especially nice to Miriam, and tells her, "I will make you evil before you make me good." Eunice is covered with piercing, chains and tattoos, which she says are to atone for her evil deeds, and goes on to explain that she has done much worse things than killing people.

The film is nearly impossible to categorize. Some say character driven drama, some say comedy. Some say it is a love story/buddy movie, others say it is a psychological study of two deeply disturbed women. I suspect that it is all of those.

The DVD is bare bones, and is a very poor transfer from First Run Features, a company that has work of inconsistent quality, but a very interesting collection of off-beat titles. I am glad I watched this film, but would really have liked a better transfer, louder audio (the accents were hard enough to understand as it was), and subtitles. A commentary from the director and writer would also have been welcome. The film, even with a good transfer, would have virtually no cross-over appeal, and, with this release, is a very hard watch.

The Critics Vote

  • Consensus: about three stars: Roger Ebert 3.5/4 (??), Austin Chronicle 3/5, Rhodes 2.5/4

The People Vote ...

IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a D+. As a comedy, it is too subtle and too vicious to be effective. As a drama, it is simply pointless and unrelentingly ugly. (Tuna D+)

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