Saturday, November 8, 2008

Film Review - "Thriller: A Cruel Picture" (1974)

Thriller: A Cruel Picture
Bo A. Vibenius

Yes! Yes! ROCK! It’s the ultimate Grindhouse film! The legendary bad boy from Sweden that got chopped to hell (and renamed “They Call Her One-Eye”) for its mainstream U.S. run was one of the biggest staples of underground 70’s cinema and a premier piece of 42nd Street sleaze.
The plot is universally recognizable and standard revenge-flick fare. A teenage farm girl (who is now mute thanks to the psychological trauma from being molestered by a creepy old dude when she was a wee one) is seduced by a handsome, mysterious stranger from the city, with his sweet car and hilariously 70’s pre-yuppie jet-setter clothes. The two of them go back to his place, where she is promptly drugged and raped. She wakes up a few days later, at which point she is informed that she is now a heroin addict, and in order to get her fix, she must live the life of a sex slave for Mr. Sexy Pseudo-Yuppie, who is actually a pimp/drug dealer/mobster/all-purpose baddie… Where’s James Bond when we need him? At first, the girl refuses to comply, and so her new boss gouges out her eye with a scalpel, to show her that whoring is serious business. So, she becomes a whore, with her clientele including a weird old guy who just likes to take pictures of her; a big dumb beefcake who enjoys it rough and dirty; and this really intense woman who’s into BDSM. The girl plans with another whore to escape by skimming off the top of their wages, and then, once they’ve saved up enough, making a break for it, getting new identities, and checking into a fancy detox clinic. The pimp finds out about this, and he has the other whore killed (because she’s at least in her forties and pretty haggard, and therefore expendable), and decides to give the teenager one last chance – however, to show that he’s not fucking around, he sends her parents a really mean letter to break their hearts and explain away their daughter’s disappearance (IE, something along the lines of “I hate you motherfuckers and I’m going to live with my new boyfriend, I hope you rot in hell blah blah blah”). The daughter attempts to go see them and show them that she didn’t write the letter, but she’s too late, and they’ve already savored a jug of bleach and joined the choir invisible. So, with this, the pimp has completely crossed the line. For the next [indefinite yet obviously very long period of time], she uses her days off to go train herself in many different forms of combat, from jujitsu to gunplay, and secretly skims off her wages to stock up on weapons and such…All in preparation for the big day when she’ll go see her pimp and terminally fuck his shit up.
This movie is everything that a Grindhouse picture should be; it’s genuinely thrilling, it’s got a defined artistic edge to it, it’s hardcore in every sense of the word, and, above all, it’s incredibly entertaining. There are parts of the movie that are honestly difficult to watch for their intensity; there are super-explicit sex scenes that show us the very meaning of ‘X-Rated’; there are some beautifully staged slow-motion gunfights that are almost like ballets, with the screen as the canvas unto which Mr. Vibenius paints with the most incredible shades of red. The movie just feels downright ‘evil’ in some scenes, but despite being so mean-spirited, the girl getting her revenge just gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling – for a character that literally does not speak a single word in the film, we just connect so well with her that we want her to succeed. We want so badly for her to fuckin’ castrate the pimp and then feed him his cock (and while his comeuppance isn’t as awesomely ironic as that, it’s still satisfying and innovative enough).
The action in this movie is also very well done. I’ve said many, many times before that I am by no means a fan of action movies, because they bore me. Usually, I just kind of zone out when faced with extended sequences of explosions, car chases, gunfights (especially gunfights in which there is absolutely no blood or gore), martial arts battles (especially when it’s lots of unrealistic and gravity-defying moves for no real reason and/or ‘not violent enough’ and just trying to be ‘cool’ – it’s hard to explain, but you know what I’m talking about, right?) and so on. However, on some rare occasions, I am actually thrilled, chilled, kept on the edge of my seat, and all the other clichés, and this movie is one of those great exceptions. The action scenes are kickass – they’re bloody, they’re chaotic, and they actually remind me of Peckinpah in a way, which means instant extra points.This movie is best known for being a big influence on Quentin Tarantino, particularly for his two-part epic, Kill Bill. Because of that, it has been brought to a whole new audience (which I am a member of); Quentin speaks very fondly of this film fairly often, and he’s played it along with some of his other sleazy favorites at his Grindhouse film festivals. So, after having my mind blown (both literally and figuratively – OH SNAP!) by this fantastic piece of cinema, I can only follow suit and recommend this to anybody looking for one of the better Grindhouse flicks; this completely epitomizes everything awesome about Grindhouse, so this should be the first place they go.
RATING: 8.5/10

1 comment:

  1. *looks at your tags* Hahaha, you just reminded me of this classic bit of Thrash Metal...

    "I love to hear you scream in vain
    Splattered blood and semen stains
    Rape and murder lesson learned
    Meaning of life? - Pain and sperm
    Prey upon the old and helpless
    Reconditioning is useless
    Ultra-violent offsprings of gore

    What do they keep living for?

    Sex and Violence!

    If you can't eat it or fuck it...
    Then kill it!
    Sexual deviation
    Religious desecration
    Civil mutilation
    Violent procreation

    Bleed for me!"

    'Tis the classic words of Peter Steele, from Carnivore. The song IS called "Sex and Violence", if you want to look it up.

    Anyhoo, I almost feel up for watching this movie. Almost. I may fast-forward the sex scenes though... I don't think I want to watch someone take it up the butt fer realz. That's... just not my thing.