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“A controversial thriller of murder and revenge!” Pia Zadora is a barefoot bad girl out to swindle and seduce her long-lost daddy in this tawdry, trashy, all-star melodrama that catapulted its pouty leading lady into bad movie infamy.
In Butterfly, Pia’s scandalous big-screen debut (not counting her classic role as Girmar the Martian child in 1964’s Santa Claus Conquers the Martians), money, murder and sex are “all in the family” as Pia rips into the role of Kady, a naughty young vagabond who hitchhikes her way through 1930’s Nevada to make a surprise visit to her long-lost father, Jess (Stacey Keach), dropping in at the dusty, deserted silver mine he is caretaking. Before you can say “Lolita,” Kady and Jess tumble into a highly inappropriate, highly implausible, relationship, leading to much sin, scandal and campy overacting, not to mention a shocking “incest trial” presided over by a seemingly confused Orson Welles! But are Kady and Jess really related, or is something else going on here? It’s all up for grabs, but one thing’s for sure, it’s all perfectly sleazy, no matter how you slice it. Based on the pulp novel by James M. Cain, and featuring a highly bizarre cast (Stuart Whitman! June Lockhart! Ed “Star Search” McMahon!), Butterfly really soars thanks to a hammy, highly-publicized performance by Pia that somehow managed to simultaneously garner her a Golden Globe Award for Best New Star of 1982 AND a Golden Razzie Award for Worst New Star of 1982. Go figure. (Dir. by Matt Cimber, 1982, USA, 108 mins., Rated R)

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