Thriller: A Cruel Picture (1974)

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Overall Rating 64%
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Ranked #2,915
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Christina Lindberg
Christina Lindberg
Heinz Hopf
Heinz Hopf
Despina Tomazani
Despina Tomazani
Per-Axel Arosenius
Per-Axel Arosenius
Solveig Andersson
Solveig Andersson
Review by Chad
Added: April 25, 2007
Ahh, the revenge film. I Spit on Your Grave may very well be the most famous of the bunch, but it certainly wasn't the first film to deal with this type of plot. In fact, I'd say that this one owes a lot to Pam Grier's excellent outing as Foxy Brown; the two films were released within two months of one another, but there's striking similarities between the plots which leads one to believe that someone took inspiration from the other. Regardless, there's plenty of room for this type of film, and Thriller: A Cruel Picture is certainly one of the better ones.

Frigga (Christina Lindberg) was raped as a child, and as a result, she is now totally mute. As if being taken advantage of once in her life wasn't enough, she soon finds herself dealing with the smooth-talking Tony (Heinz Hopf), a man who is extremely charming and also harboring some sinister motives for picking Frigga up. After assumedly spiking Frigga's wine (it's never shown, but since she collapses after one sip, I'll say that it's a safe bet that he did), he injects her with pure heroin and some sort of drugs to keep her asleep. He continues keeping her shot up with heroin and sleeping medication for the next couple of days, and when she finally comes around, she's completely addicted to heroin.

At this point, Tony makes her a deal: she can leave and suffer from extreme withdrawal symptoms that will make her wish she was dead (the Betty Ford clinic wasn't around back then), or she can work for him as a prostitute with a couple of fixes per day as her payment. Having nowhere to go and nobody to turn to, she's pretty much forced to sell her body on a daily basis in order to supplement her addiction... but she's also spending her spare time learning how to properly shoot guns and kick ass in hand-to-hand combat, and once she's properly trained in both, well; it's going to suck to be the man who cut her eye out and forced her into sexual slavery.

Now, I said that Thriller is one of the better films in the rape / revenge subgenre of films, but that's not to say that I was completely in love with it either. I enjoyed the overall storyline and Christina Lindberg was damned good in the leading role (she doesn't speak a single word but still manages to convey a lot of emotion), but in my ever so humble opinion, things really started to fall apart towards the end. This was due to one single mistake on the part of director Bo Arne Vibenius, that being horrible pacing decisions.

For the majority of the movie, things move along at a perfectly acceptable pace: we're introduced to the characters, we watch as Frigga is abused and mentally tortured, and we then watch as she prepares herself for the inevitable revenge. There were a few pacing flaws throughout this period of the film, but for the most part, I had no complaints. Then, when her plan for vengeance is finally set into motion, the film slows to a snail's pace in what I have to assume was a decision made to force us, the audience, to savor this revenge as much as the leading lady was.

Take a scene in which Frigga is fighting off a pair of inept policeman as an example. This scene consists of a few basic self-defense moves: she elbows one, flips another, then goes back to the first guy and kicks him in the face. A few other similar moves were used in this scene, but there were no more than six or seven total. The problem is that it was shot in extreme slow-motion: a scene which would have lasted about ten seconds in real-time was stretched out to last for a solid five minutes. After that, she drives from one place to another, and it seems as though we were along for the entire ride... stop-lights, turn signals, and every last mile of the way. Did we really need to "drive" along with the leading lady for another long stretch of film? I think not. This is the problem with the vast majority of the ending: nothing particularly exciting is going on (save for the final scene of the film), but we're watching it all take place in the slowest possible way regardless.

I had no problems with the hardcore pornography that was inserted to show what Frigga (actually a body double) was going through. I also had no problems with the general storyline, nor would you hear me complain about the violence (the eye-gouging scene is particularly nasty). However, I did have a problem with the final act of the film, that being that it left me completely bored for far too long, and by the time her vengeance was complete, I simply didn't care. That is far worse than any other flaw that a director can make. 6/10.
bluemeanie #1: bluemeanie - added 04/26/2007, 10:37 AM
I had never heard of this, but picked it up when I saw so many people requested it on this site. I was actually going to review it, but Chad beat me to it, which allowed me to review other films, so it all works out. Anyhoo, I kind of liked "Thriller". It seemed very Quentin Tarantino-esque, even though it came out long before Tarantino became a household name. I liked how it took time to build up the story. I was not bored with this film and found it rather engaging, odd considering I don't usually care for films like this. I am, however, a sucker for a good old revenge flick. And who couldn't see the influence on "Kill Bill" from this film? All over the place. I thought "Thriller" was a good little revenge flick. Nothing spectacular, and the pornography was a little offputting, at times. I just didn't always feel like it was necessary. 6/10.
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