Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thriller: A Cruel Picture (1974) Review

Thriller A Cruel Picture poster
Director: Bo Arne Vibenius
Stars: Christina Lindberg, Heinz Hopf
Genre: Thriller, Exploitation, Rape and Revenge
Also known as: They Call Her One Eye

Thriller: A Cruel Picture is hardcore. How hardcore? Well let's see. A real corpse was used for an eyeball gouging scene, real live ammunition was used, saline solution was injected in place of heroin, there's a load of hardcore pornography sequences. To top it off, it was later revealed that the film's producers had taken out a huge life insurance policy on the lead actress during filming. So they were pretty much just expecting someone to actually die in this movie.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is exploitation rape and revenge at its utmost finest.

It's about a woman, Madeleine, who was sexually assaulted when she was a very young girl and ever since then has been unable to talk, i.e., she's a mute. She grows up and ends up being drugged by a man and he gets her addicted to heroin and forces her into prostitution. Madeleine slowly learns how to fight, drive, and use guns, so she can take her revenge on those who did her wrong.

Christina Lindberg plays a silent girl, who looks like she's 16 but the actress was 24 when this was released, and she does a wonderful job. The character of Madeleine blurs the line between little girl and badass. She may seem small, weak, helpless, but at other times seem awesome, crazy, unstoppable. She utters not a single word the entire film, but she doesn't need to, her appearance and performance say enough.

Real ammunition was used, which makes the film all the more scary. Though it is nice to see an almost entirely accurate portrayal of firearms, unlike many other films. The sex here is very graphic. You see penis, vagina, there's anal, lesbian, creampies, all of it. In Sweden, at the time, there was a very liberal pornographic trend going on and this film intended to capitalize on it. Stuff like this in a film is rarely ever seen outside the pornography genre. It definitely adds the the disturbing terror of this film. With all the sex, violence, death, drugs, etc., Thriller: A Cruel Picture isn't for the light of heart.

Christina Lindberg in Thriller A Cruel Picture

The film is very silent, like our main character. The second half of the film is very light on the dialogue and there isn't much of a score. When there is music playing it is very minimalistic and has a very ambient electronic sound that actually works great. But most of the time the film opts to let us hear natural sounds, such as moans or gunshots or whatever it may be, rather than music. Which I love.

Thriller A Cruel Picture gun

The cinematography is fantastic, especially for an exploitation film. There's some really awesome shots and camera angles and, oddly enough, it is a very visually pleasing film. There's a lot of first person POV shots that involve the viewer in the film and at certain times a character will look directly at the camera whilst talking, which makes for a very chilling and moving experience. All the locations are great, whether it be an autumn field covered in yellow and orange leaves or the side of a desert road, it all looks quite beautiful.

Christina Lindberg as Madeleine in Thriller

A lot of people complain about the overused slow-motion in the second half. I can understand that, I didn't really like it either at first. All the kills are in super slow-motion and can sometimes drag the scene out. But the way I look at it is that we're seeing the deaths as the main characters sees them. Surely after all the torture she has gone through she will savor killing these people and will enjoy every second, every detail of their deaths, and the slow-motion allows us to see it the same way; seeing the blood spurt out and the pain on their faces. Every death is a celebration that must be savored.

Eye cutting in Thriller A Cruel Picture

There's some minor plot-holes in the story, but it's nothing major and most will probably not even catch them. One thing that I didn't like, or that confused me, was that [minor spoiler] the main character, who is supposed to be the protagonist, kills some innocent people in that driving scene. I love how easily all those cars blow up, but why the hell did she kill them? They never hurt her. Perhaps symbolism that she isn't representing justice but rather personal satisfaction in the form of revenge? I don't know. Minor annoyance.

Thriller A Cruel Picture shotgun

I like the ending. The film has a very western feel to it, along with some other styles. It's a very good film, one of the best exploitation has to offer. Great plot, characters, acting, violence, soundtrack, cinematography, etc. A scary film for some, disturbing for others, emotional maybe, but definitely enjoyable for most. Thriller truly is a Cruel Picture.

4.5/5 stars

Purchase Thriller: A Cruel Picture on Amazon: DVD
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