Thriller: A Cruel Picture (1973)

thriller-cruel-pictureAllegedly one of the many influences for Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” series, “Thriller” or “They Called her One Eye” is an awfully uneasy and chilling bit of savagery involving one of the primary themes for grind house cinema: Victimizing. Like many before and after it, we watch a simple girl terrorized by corrupt and violent forces that drive her to the brink of violence and revenge in a hail of blood and bullets. Sure, thanks to many of its fans, “Thriller” is hardly a rare movie anymore, nor are reviews of it hard to come by, but where else will you find my own wry commentary?

Frigga is a gorgeous young mute girl who has had the misfortune of being terrorized by men most of her life. As a child she was raped by an old man, and she spent her life in seclusion. Willing to trust again, she has dinner with a wealthy young man who drugs her and keeps her hostage by hooking her on heroine. From there, she’s forced into prostitution in a bordello, and plots revenge. “Thriller” is hardly a film that pulls punches, like many of its predecessors. There are many horrible scenes of Frigga being ravaged by her merciless pimp, even having her right eye cut out in cold blood. Surprisingly compelling, though not without its caveats, “Thriller” and its heroine’s journey is rather fascinating as we watch her experience the cruel world as a prostitute with director Bo Arne Vibenius even featuring graphic sex scenes penetration and all.

Planning to escape the clutches of her pimp once and for all, she devises a plan that derives from one of her confidantes in the bordello. Donning a white eye patch, she finally decides to strike back and stop being a victim, and “Thriller” picks up even more. Vibenius delves full on into the torment young Frigga experiences from her drug addiction, abuse, and nightmares of her parents torture from her fake abandonment. “Thriller” is a film that really pulls no punches, and keeps you firmly on her side, even at her most sadistic. The doe eyed, mute girl is turned into a monster thanks to her world, and she embraces it, and we can’t help embracing it, either. She learns martial arts, she learns how to stunt drive, she learns how to shoot, and the warrior is built with some entertaining characters along the way.

“Thriller” is a revenge flick that wonderfully builds suspense, mounting tension, and sheer anticipation, and the audience will find it difficult to remain patient just curious at what pain she’ll soon inflict with her newfound skills at hand. There’s barely any dialogue at all within the film, since young Frigga is mute, and most of the story need only be told through raw visuals, but Vibenius uses this to his advantage making “Thriller” into an awfully visceral picture based on the formula of torture and revenge. It becomes a caveat though, as Verbinius and his penchant for slow motion become brutally repetitive. Especially in his method of drawing slow motion for as long as humanly possible. After a while the momentum faded considerably, and I was rather annoyed. Also, one of the most glaring plot holes involved here, is the way our character Frigga is able to obtain the resources for her skills. Where did she get soldiers to train her on target shooting and hand to hand combat? How did she get a stunt driver to teach her how to drive?

None of it was too sensible because we’re left wondering how a girl who can move freely and gather people to teach her these skills couldn’t simply run away or gather help for her predicament. In either case, Christina Lindberg gives a great performance here, as the rapidly violent Frigga who is tormented by many of her customers, and dives into and masters most of the skills she attempts to learn on her own. She’s given zero dialogue, and manages to carry the film all on her own through her torment, and she pulls it off with flying colors. Vibernius, much like Leone, uses silence and stark scenery to his advantage giving the audience a better view of the emotions of the moment through their eyes and expressions. “Thriller” is disturbing and yet utterly engrossing, and I was pleased. In spite of evident plot holes, and repetitive slow motion, “Thriller” is a memorable, and utterly engrossing revenge flick that explores innocence lost in a dark world and how some can take the form of darkness to mend their wounds.