The Great Owl’s review published on Letterboxd:
After being poisoned by a mysterious woman who attempted to snare him into a suicide pact, Young-gul, a college student played by Kim Jeong-cheol, has lost the will to live and is plagued by desires to take his own life. He subsequently encounters a Nietzsche-obsessed bookseller who refuses to die after multiple murder attempts and who visits him in the form of a talking skeleton. He then romances a ghostly cannibalistic woman who has come back to life after being dead for 2,000 years. For our young protagonist, however, the weirdness is just beginning. He is soon employed by an archaeologist who is looking for a love interest for his virginal daughter, except that the daughter wears the same butterfly necklace as her deceased friend, none other than the woman who tried to poison Young-gui in the double suicide attempt, and she is determined to follow through with with her friend's mission to find a partner in death. Meanwhile, local authorities investigate discoveries of inexplicably beheaded corpses.
The fantastical 1978 South Korean horror outing, Woman Chasing the Butterfly of Death, defies expectations at every turn with its thematic examinations of the conflict between resignation and free will. The proceedings, which are somehow humorous and chilling at the same time, are helmed by Kim Ki-young, best known for his 1960 masterpiece, The Housemaid, which is considered a cinematic landmark from his country. If you are looking for a straightforward story that spoon feeds you with its message, then look elsewhere. If, however, you welcome the challenge of narrative curveballs and side roads that are brought to you by way of entrancingly beautiful visuals, then this unique slice of foreign filmmaking awaits.
The best way to approach Woman Chasing the Butterfly of Death is simply to roll with the oddball punches as they come without trying to apply logic to them. Like Kim Jeong-cheol's lead, who gradually finds the treasure of willpower inside himself, you will be ultimately be rewarded by whatever the story throws at you. If all else fails, just enjoy the colorful cacophony of butterflies, strange women, animated skeletons, murder, construction equipment fight scenes, police procedurals, hip music, and beach parties.