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After hearing all the hype about this film...the latest notorious
cult film making the rounds...has to be seen to be believed...sex and
violence, sex and violence, etc., I finally got hold of a copy of it and
almost afraid that with all the anticipation I'd just be disappointed. To
add to that, the copy I got was of crappy quality as I discovered when I
started watching it--the opening credits were so blurry I couldn't read
them--and the whole affair started to look like nothing more than the
necessary to get the idea of finally seeing this film out of my
All this apprehension disappeared quickly as I got sucked into this simple yet very engaging story. We all know it's about a chick with one eye who picks up a shotgun and exacts revenge on her abusers, another entry into a sub-genre that needs no introduction, and that's what I expected, just another entry into this sub-genre with maybe enough explicit footage to give it the aforementioned notoriety, which alone does not a good film make. What I didn't expect was the atmosphere, the occasional insight (witness an early semi-rape scene involving rape-by-camera), the genuinely creepy close-ups of leering, panting men and all the other quirks that make this such a neat little flick. There is a lot of experimental sort of storytelling in this movie, as I guess was the style of the time (early seventies), and some of it is neat and some of it is downright annoying. But the overall effect, aided in no small part by the music, and aided also by the main character's inability to speak (had to have influenced Ms. .45, which came later) as well as the fact that I don't speak Swedish and this film is neither dubbed nor subtitled, is one of being underwater in a very polluted river. And that seems perfectly appropriate, since figuratively that's the story of the protagonist's life.
The close-up hardcore porn footage is used to better effect than I've ever seen such footage used, as it is supposed to be disturbing and sickening (anyone who thinks about impersonal images like that when they think about real sex, the good kind, has got to be a few beers short of a case). However, it is somewhat over-used. There are some good scenes of drawn-out, methodical drug-administering, shotgun-sawing, martial arts training, etc. that give the film, at times, an edge of realism. This realism is shattered, however, by scenes of cars exploding at the slightest impact and the nails-on-a-chalkboard slo-mo shooting scenes (not just slo-mo, sloooooooooo moooooooooo). Comparing this to Peckinpah is like comparing Green Day to the Stooges.
However, the entire film was redeemed for me by the last couple of sequences...one scene of her walking, all clad in black with her eyepatch and shotgun, amidst some shacks by a pier was straight out of a very dark western. The whole look of the film, especially the outdoor footage, is stark and desolate. Makes me want to go to Sweden. I was not let down by the last killing...the guy deserved that and more...it's a testament to the sort of infectuous quality of this film and the surprising abilities of porn star Christina Lindberg that I cared that much and even savored what happens to this guy. I've never actually savored the film re-enactment of the torture of a human being before seeing this film. More important than that, though, were the stark landscapes and windy, desolate atmosphere of the whole last sequence. "One-eye"'s cold-as-ice serenity as she sits and waits for her macabre plan to take effect is more satisfying than any of what she's waiting for.
All this stark imagery, simplicity and symbolism, I think, makes this film more of a subversive feminist allegory than any other of its type that I've seen; because it is at times almost mythic, it doesn't have to be taken literally. It doesn't have to be about pimps kidnapping girls and force-feeding them drugs, it doesnt have to be about shot guns. It does make me wonder how Christina Lindberg felt about the film, and what she did after.
One more thing: does a black-leather-clad, shotgun toting avenger driving around in a cop car through barren countryside remind you of anything?
Definitely check this out if you're not squeemish.
The gorgeous nymph Christina Lindberg is a mute woman who is abducted,
drugged and forced into sexual servitude by a slick criminal.
Notable for its hardcore sex sequences which, in my humble opinion, lend great gravity to Lindberg's unfortunate personal situation, this revenge drama has a measured, moderate pace and is quite compelling.
Titled THEY CALL HER ONE-EYE in some markets because our heroine does get her eye poked out by her captor, the film has rarely been seen uncut until the advent of Synapse Films' recent DVD.
Some scribes have complained that the hardcore sexual material ruins the film. I don't see any basis for this complaint. The hardcore honestly portrays the level of abuse Lindberg receives.
The revenge section of THRILLER is labored and stylized. There's no clear catharsis and there's no joy for the avenging angel.
Director Bo A Vebenius also wrote and produced.
Though called "the roughest revenge movie ever made" by Quentin Tarantino, it is not particularly rough compared to fare such as FORCED ENTRY, CAPTURED FOR SEX 2 or ZOOM UP: RAPE SITE.
It is an art-house revenge pic that is well worth seeing. I'm not sure I'd want to re-see it regularly, though. It does runs slow.
THRILLER is a very well done rape/revenge film in the same vein as LAST
HOUSE ON THE LEFT or I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. The storyline is different
but the results are the same...
Girl is raped as a child which causes her to be mute. She is picked up by a slick-talking guy and taken out for dinner and drinks. Back at his house, he drugs her and shoots her up with heroin for several days, so by the time he allows her to wake up out of her heroin-stupor, she is an addict. At that point she is turned-out as a prostitute and given some cash and drugs as "payment". She is given some free time to herself, where she uses the money earned to take karate,shooting, and driving classes. Needless to say, when she becomes proficient enough in these disciplines, she uses her newly honed skills to go after those that did her wrong...
Christina Lindberg is excellent as the beautiful and seemingly innocent looking mute girl. She is a real pleasure to look at, and the fact that she's naked through a good portion of the film doesn't hurt either. There is some "controversy" surrounding this film due to a couple of hardcore sex scenes (obviously not Ms. Lindberg, unfortunately...) that appear to be cut from a bad European porno. The scenes are not necessary for the film but were obviously added to heighten the shock value of the film overall. Other than those few scenes, and the famous scalpel-in-the-eye scene, the violence in THRILLER is relatively tame by exploitation/horror standards. Overall a really good film, if you are into the rape/revenge genre - I think it's always cool to see a strong, sexy, female lead who kicks ass, one of the reasons that I gravitate toward this type of film. The eyeball and sex scenes may be a little much for the casual movie-goer, more "extreme" fans should like this one. Recommended...8.5 out of 10
NOTE: Synapse films now has a "Vengeance" addition in a yellow box (original cover is red) that is the same film minus the XXX scenes.
THRILLER: THEY CALL HER ONE EYE (Bo Arne Vibenius - Sweden 1974).
This is pretty dark and distressing stuff. Apparently Sweden does have some other cinematic export products besides Ingmar Bergman and Bo Widerberg. This strange and quite original exploitation gem by Bo Arne Vibenius recently got a little more attention (if only a little) because of Quentin Tarantino, who paid homage to this film with KILL BILL and called it "the roughest revenge picture ever made". For an exploitation-flick, it's not that rough at all, but it definitely has some very potent scenes but nothing really gory, and most of all, the blood and the fighting look so deliciously fake, I doubt anyone could take it as very disturbing. Most of the time, nothing really happens at all, but there's a certain atmosphere that makes the film strangely compelling.
A young girl (Christina Lindberg) is growing up mute after a childhood sexual assault and spends years working on a remote farm. After missing the bus one day, she is picked up by a seedy well-dressed man who kidnaps the girl, gets her addicted to heroine, cuts her left-eye out, and forces her into slavery and prostitution. Any other girl would give in, but not this one. She seeks vengeance, and, fortunately, has the weekends off, so she can learn martial arts, race-driving and military weaponry.
In some earlier comments I noticed people were put off by some hardcore pornography, which there was in the earlier DVD-release under the title THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE. Distributor Synapse decided to release the tamer, but still quite brutal, American version THRILLER: THEY CALL HER ONE EYE, which is the only version I have seen. I cannot imagine hardcore pornography would improve the film, so I suggest watching this "softer" version instead.
This is not a film for those who want fast-paced action, snappy dialog or basic storytelling and since the main character is a mute girl who doesn't have a single line in the entire film, it does require some patience. And don't expect any ingenious fight scenes because the girl learned martial arts. The fight scenes are filmed in extreme slow-motion, quite tedious. The film also bares distinction in having a very strange sound mix by Ralph Lundsten, who composed a very memorable music score that one distinctly associates with this film, quite unique. Needless to say, the film was made on a shoestring, but Vibenius does show cinematic flair in the use of locations (on Öland) and some truly magnificent shots. What about that shot with the camera on top of a police car between the two sirens? Sheer beauty!
Hard to compare this film to anything I've seen. Well, it's a Swedish revenge-flick, so how many of these are there? It's unlike anything made before at the time (and up till now, supposedly). A film with some - mostly budget-related - shortcomings, but by any means, a genuine original.
Camera Obscura --- 7/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Girls are kidnapped by a sadistic pimp,turned into heroin addicts and dumped into a brothel,there to suffer hideous mistreatment in the hands of sweating,overweight customers.A mute girl Madeleine(Christina Lindberg),escapes and finally exterminates her tormentors with a sawed-off shotgun."Thriller:A Cruel Picture" is a notorious Swedish exploitation film which has a strange,almost dreamy feeling.The killings are long and bloody,so I was enthralled.The use of extreme slow motion during death scenes is certainly impressive.Christina Lindberg is simply excellent as a mute girl who becomes a killing machine.The most controversial aspect about "Thriller:A Cruel Picture",aside from the bloody violence,is the presence of several ugly hard-core sex scenes that show the girl's prostitution work in graphic detail.So if you are a fan of grindhouse exploitation stuff give this film a look.Check out also "Breaking Point" by Bo Arne Vibenius which is even more pornographic and demented.7 out of 10.
Vengeance, or so the saying goes, is a dish best served cold. This film
certainly exemplifies this maxim, and in the process comes across as if
Bergman had done Deathwish. (Thriller's director had actually worked as
on Persona as an assistant, and indeed some of the Nordic glumness here
reminds one of the greater director) Its one of those titles which,
long unavailable to the interested viewer, provokes a huge amount of
curiosity and its arrival on DVD with some useful extras, is to be
welcomed. It also has the cool cachet of a recommendation by Quentin
Tarantino, who for purposes of reference duly inserted a one-eyed
assassin of his own into Kill Bill.
Seen today Thriller remains a striking film, even much of the shock value has evaporated - apart from the hard core sequences as the heroine, by now a unwilling heroine addict, is abused and degraded. These moments were a principal reason for the film's truncation for the States and elsewhere, even though now they seem part and parcel of the message, reinforcing the intimate distress of what is being done. In fact apart from the opening and discreetly filmed child rape, as well as the assault on Madeline's eyeball about a third of the way in, there's hardly much action at all - and which when it does appear, given director Vibenius' infatuation with slow-mo violence (interesting at first, avant garde when continued, a tad tedious when it carries on) tends to slow matters down considerably. Much of the fighting is done in this same manner, and while the drawn out bullet ballets piercing shirts lead to certain fascination, the technique also shows up the cheap special effects on offer, or distractingly emphasises the illogicality of bodies recoiling *into* bullets and actors reacting too slowly to the impact. But whether deliberately or not such trick effects distance the viewer from the emotions of events; instead the mechanics of retaliation and murder are drawn out in almost fetishistic fashion, just as Madeline will savour coldly the extended demise of Tony in the closing scenes.
On the plus side the deliberate nature of it all, and the slow build up to Madeline's revenge, gives the audience ample time to side with the central character and contemplate the stages of her increasing torment. And during the wait, her enforced silence communicates far more than acres of embittered dialogue might have. The result is a degree of audience sympathy that's quite a way from the usual exploitation product, and by virtue of the fact that sometimes less means more, accumulates considerably more dignity for the victim along the way. There's still plenty of 70's cheesy decor on show (Madeline's principal abuser and abductor, Tony, in particular recalls a sleazy Jason King) but the film is distinguished by its refusal to hurry and draws out the angst suffered by the main character with quiet understatement, an effective process which gets under the skin.
Its a film worth seeing for this rather unique flavour; whether or not it will repay repeated viewings is less certain as, apart from Christine Lindberg's stoic performance, non of the other actors make much of an impression. Director Vibernius, who apparently took on this production to pay for the flop of his last, only made one more film after this, the even more exploitative Breaking Point. In Thriller, where perhaps he succeeded for the only time in creating a near art house style for grind house subject matter, he also appears as a hot dog salesman.
After being sexually molested as a small child, Frigga (the beautiful
Christina Lindberg) becomes mute. Fast forward about 15 years, and
after missing a bus to go to her therapy she accepts a ride from a
shady character. Before long she's reduced to being a heroin addict
with one eye (courtesy of her new pimp when she claws the face of her
first trick). After a montage of her getting trained in guns, karate
and driving as well as some ill-advised hardcore porn shots, she gets
Let's start with what I liked about this film. Christina Linberg is very appealing, the ending is pretty damn good and i DID enjoy the film overall. What I din't like about the movie is those hard-core porn inserts which detract from the flow of the film and were NOT needed, the fact that EVERY fight was in sllllllllllllllloooooooooooooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwww motion bored me to no end, Despina Tomazani looked like a post-op transvestite as the lesbian trick, that upset me. But as I said all in all a solid exploitation film.
My Grade: B-
Synapse DVD Extras: TV spot; Theatrical trailer; "Thriller" trailer; double-bill trailer for "Hooker's Revenge (the reissue title for this film) and "Photographer's Models" ( the nonsensical reissue title of "House of Whipcord"); some outtakes; a few photo montages; a "story in pictures" segment that runs by at lightning speed; and cast and crew filmographies
The 1973 violent Swedish revenge film Thriller: A Cruel Picture, also
known as They Call Her One Eye, greatly influenced Quentin Tarantino's
Kill Bill and you can see why even with only one eye.
The film has rather racy full-on penetration sex scenes, which were apparently popular at the time, done by body doubles, they actually work and match well intercut with the real actors performing simulated sex in something other than the usual dull missionary position movie sex scenes.
It's a quiet film with little or no score, set in a Swedish small town with perhaps the world's most ineffective police force and most unobservant neighbors ever, pay no attention to that shotgun killing across the road.
Gaps in logic galore in the story of an innocent young ginger girl left mute by a childhood rape who becomes addicted to heroin by a vicious pimp and enslaved into prostitution before honing her skills in hand-to-hand combat, guns and stunt driving before at long last taking her bloody revenge.
Ridiculous yet one of the better cult films I've seen.
Thriller is not your average film. It wasn't in 1974 and it isn't in
2005 (31 years later). I must say, that I find it hard to describe the
film, although the plot is relatively simple. What makes it difficult
to describe this film is the way it is presented. First of all, despite
not being an adult film, there are a hand full of penetration scenes
which neither arouse nor sicken, which are thus basically useless for
the plot or entertainment (if ANY elaborate penetration-scene can
actually add something to ANY film is another question). On the other
side though, this there is little action in this one to qualify as an
action film and I must admit that most action scenes are badly executed
(the spontaneous combustion of cars being one example). The exception
to this is the hand-combat scene at the docks, which is excellent. The
shoot-outs on the other hand however are at times excruciatingly long
and useless. On top of that, the film also suffers a bit from the lack
of dialog, although I must honestly say, that the acting (especially by
Christina Lindberg) was of such quality that you didn't feel like
turning the film off (which is strange for an adult film IF this
qualifies as one).
The film has other qualities as well though. I was especially baffled by the quality of the special effects and in some way I feel that the film actually deserves a spot in movie history. Despite being somewhat slow and really not action-packed, I feel that this film among the first female-lead action film ever made. I know credit is often given to Mrs. Weaver and Mr.Scott for that (Alien), but I think this one might be in for the race, don't you? Of course there are other films in that race as well, like Coffy, Foxy Brown and perhaps Cleopatra Jones, which I haven't seen, but this one ranks right up there as a female version of Death Wish. That fact alone and the fact that this is a cheap, slightly pornographic Swedish film make this one special - or maybe just a rarity. I just know what it certainly isn't, a must-see.
6,25 out of 10 (with a 6 given upon voting)
post scriptum: this film isn't cruel in any kind of way and really doesn't warrant a 20 minute cut to receive an R rating. The adult parts didn't last that long did they? If you're talking blood, Reservoir Dogs is much crueler if you ask me.
Exploitation cinema in all its glory, or not, depending on your own
personal peccadilloes! Directed, written and produced by Bo Arne
Vibenius, Thriller - en grym film (AKA: They Call Her One Eye) is an
infamous picture for a number of reasons, reasons that would take a
whole page to write about. So use your mouse and google it because this
review isn't interested in dabbling in such fare.
Plot sees a young Madeline raped by a paedophile and rendered mute by the experience. Into early adulthood and Madeline (played superbly by soft core porn starlet Christinia Lindberg) unwisely takes up the offer of a lift from the odious Tony (Heinz Hopf). Pretty soon she's addicted to heroin and working as a prostitute. However, Madeline is biding her time, for she has plans, plans that spell doom for all her abusers.
Does this film have artistic merit? Absolutely! In fact if you take out the inserted pornographic close-ups, which are pointless since we already know what Madeline is going through (a supposed marketing tool of the era apparently...) then this is a kick-ass film. It's a two parter, where the first half shows all of Madeline's misery, with sexual disturbance and body horror, then we switch to Madeline's fight back, where we get one of the coolest anti-heroines of 70s exploitation. She's sporting an eye patch, a glorious black trench coat, and weapons, oh yes! There are weapons, hands, guns and cars, oh my! It's here where Vibenius asks the question about justifiable revenge, whilst the super slow-mo approach to the violence will either be viewed as indulgent or classy (I'm with the latter camp).
It is what it is, grungy and grimy, operating in a specialist niche of cinema, but worthy in that it didn't conform, and it has proved influential. It's just not a date movie or something to watch with you mom! Right, I'm off for a bath. 7/10
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