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SCREAM OF THE BUTTERFLY (1965).

This engaging chunk of mid-'60s dreck might be small in scope, but it also shows what you can accomplish on a tiny budget if you've got snappy dialogue, a pneumatic lead, plenty of cheap motels, and energetic photography by the great Ray Dennis Steckler. Meanwhile, one-shot wonder director Eber Lobato packs his 78-minute, Las Vegas-based tale with murder, infidelity and plenty of wondrous plot twists. It begins with the murder of a curvaceous blonde, Marla (Nelida Lobato...hmmm, any relation to the director?), and while the D.A. and her accused killer's lawyer swap their own hardboiled takes on the crime, we get flashbacks to the real story... Marla is your ordinary golddigger, in search of cheap thrills, long bubble baths, and any man who catches her roving eye and can fill an empty orifice. In this instance, she snags a rich boob who quickly marries her. But even before the honeymoon is over, she becomes bored with her clean-cut hubbie, go-go dances on a nightclub tabletop, and takes up with a two-bit gigolo. After much cavorting on the beach between Marla and her new beau, she decides to kill her cuckold ball-and-chain by pushing him out of a boat. Unfortunately, things just never seem to go right for lusty Marla, because while she's been screwing about, he decided to surprise her by secretly learning how to swim! Despite some typically atrociously acting, this has a more interesting structure than the usual sexploiter, as it cuts back and forth between the present-day officials and their RASHOMON-like recollections. Plus, there's a terrific surprise ending, which spurs Marla's demise -- but giving it away would ruin the fun. This might be a tad tame for more deviant viewers, but it's nose-deep in the type of tough 'n' tawdry delights that made the grindhouse era so unforgettable.

© 1996 by Steven Puchalski.