Thriller – A Cruel Picture
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|Thriller – A Cruel Picture|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Bo Arne Vibenius (as Alex Fridolinski)|
|Produced by||Bo Arne Vibenius|
|Written by||Bo Arne Vibenius|
|Music by||Ralph Lundsten|
|Edited by||Brian Wikström|
|Distributed by||BAV Film (Sweden)
American International Pictures (US dub)
|May 1973 (Cannes)
June 5, 1974 (US)
October 30, 1974 (Sweden)
82 minutes (US cut)
104 minutes (Vengeance Edition)
Thriller – A Cruel Picture (Swedish: Thriller – en grym film, also known as They Call Her One Eye, Hooker's Revenge and Thriller) is a 1973 Swedish exploitation film in the "rape and revenge" genre written and directed by Bo Arne Vibenius under the name Alex Fridolinski. It tells the story of a mute young woman who is forced into heroin addiction and prostitution, and her revenge on the men responsible.
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A quiet girl, Madeleine (Christina Lindberg), is sexually assaulted as a child, and the trauma makes her mute. One day when she is older she accepts a ride from a man, Tony (Heinz Hopf), who makes her a heroin addict, and then becomes her pimp. To hide the fact that she was kidnapped, the pimp writes hateful letters to her parents who become so distraught they commit suicide. At one point, she is stabbed in the eye for refusing a client. Madeleine then begins saving money to purchase a car to escape and take lessons in driving, shooting, and martial arts in order to take revenge.
- Christina Lindberg as Madeleine / Frigga
- Heinz Hopf as Tony
- Despina Tomazani as The Lesbian Girl
- Per-Axel Arosenius as Madeleine's Father
- Solveig Andersson as Sally
- Björn Kristiansson as The Addict
- Marie-Louise Mannervall as Woman in Village
- Hildur Lindberg as Woman in Village
- Marshall McDonagh as Karate Teacher
- Pamela Pethö-Galantai as Madeleine as a child
- Hans-Eric Stenborg as Sex Buyer
- Stig Ström as Sex Buyer
- Gunnel Wadner as Madeleine's Mother
- Bo Arne Vibenius as Food Vendor
Director Bo Arne Vibenius sought to make "the most commercial film ever made", as he had lost money on an earlier film, and needed to recuperate his loss. Rumors allege that the filmmakers used an actual corpse during the film's eye gouging scene, which has since become controversial because of these rumors. Hardcore pornographic sequences were edited into the film to profit off of the trend of pornography in Denmark and Sweden, which was being liberalized at the time.
In Daniel Ekeroth's book on Swedish exploitation movies, Swedish Sensationsfilms: A Clandestine History of Sex, Thrillers, and Kicker Cinema, it is revealed that the producers took out a huge life insurance policy on star Christina Lindberg, as real ammunition was used in the action sequences, and that she was asked to inject saline solution during the drug scenes.
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The original running time was 107 minutes. After being banned by the Swedish film censorship board, it was cut down to 104 minutes and then 86 minutes, but still banned. It was finally released after being cut down to 82 minutes. In the United States it had also been cut to 82 minutes.
In 2004 and 2005, Synapse Films released two versions of Thriller on DVD.
Thriller: They Call Her One-Eye (Vengeance Edition): This edition, released on August 30, 2005, contains all of the action scenes that were cut from the original theatrical cut. This version is more accessible; however, it contains scanty bonus material (a theatrical trailer) and an exclusive essay in the liner notes. Widescreen, spoken languages Swedish and English, with available English subtitles. Running time is 104 minutes.
Thriller – A Cruel Picture – (Limited Edition): This edition of Thriller, released on September 28, 2004, contains the film in its entirety, as well as all of the violence that was cut from the original version. Bonus Features include two trailers; THRILLER: A CRUEL LAB MISTAKE, which documents a lab accident that cost the director two days worth of footage; a photo gallery of Christina Lindberg posing nude during the shooting of the movie; and a look at the entire film in 40 seconds. Widescreen, spoken languages English and Swedish, with available English subtitles. Running time is 107 minutes.
Vibenius directed the film under the pseudonym Alex Fridolinski. In the marketing materials the two names share credit for story. In the scene where Lindberg's character is stabbed in the eye the director is rumored to have used an actual cadaver, to much controversy.
Vibenius later attempted to prevent Thriller from being released on DVD, by bringing a lawsuit against Synapse Films, claiming they did not have the film rights to the film. Synapse produced legal documentation to show that they had acquired the assets to the company that held Thriller as one of its properties, and thus owned the film for the remainder of the original contracted period.
The hardcore sex scenes were of a couple who went by the names Romeo and Julia (Juliet's name in Swedish translations). They were a live sex couple performing at clubs in Stockholm. 
The film was marketed as the first film ever to be completely banned in Sweden, although the first one actually was Victor Sjöström's The Gardener from 1912. It has received a cult following and was one of the inspirations behind Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, specifically for the character of Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah).
- Thriller – a cruel picture – Visningar at the Swedish Film Institute (Swedish)
- Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, McFarland, 2011, 0786449616, 9780786449613, p. 40
- Daniel Ekeroth: SWEDISH SENSATIONSFILMS: A Clandestine History of Sex, Thrillers, and Kicker Cinema, (Bazillion Points, 2011) ISBN 978-0-9796163-6-5.
- Trädgårdsmästaren – Kommentar at the Swedish Film Institute (Swedish)