Directed by: Bo Arne Vibenius
Starring: Christina Lindberg, Heinz Hopf, Despina Tomazani

THRILLER is one of those movies I've heard a lot of things about and have been meaning to see for quite some time but never got around to it until now. I'd mainly heard about it in reference to it's influential and controversial aspects, but did it live up to my expectations? Well I'm glad to say that it actually exceeded them.

THRILLER is one of the many films which deals with rape, abuse and revenge like the more well known LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, although it isn't quite your conventional rape & revenge thriller. The film starts of with a young girl who is raped by an old bearded creep. We are then introduced to the girl Frigga (Lindberg) all grown up and living with her parents in a quaint farming community. We also learn that because of her traumatic experience as a child she is completely mute. After missing the bus Frigga is offered a ride by a seemingly nice guy named Tony (Hopf) who takes her out to dinner and then back to his place for a couple of drinks. After drugging the girl and shooting her up with heroin he gets her hooked on the drug in order to work for him as a prostitute. After attacking her very first client Tony slices up her eye with a scalpel to keep her in order and for the remainder of the movie she wears a patch over one eye. But Tony isn't a complete monster because he gives her Mondays off work and she decides to use these days to her advantage. By putting away money she organizes classes to teach her how to shoot, fight and drive as she prepares a plan for revenge.

This is far from the most disturbing and extreme rape & revenge films and in fact there is not really a whole lot of gore at all, although there is the close-up scene of an eyeball being popped with a scalpel which might make some people a little uncomfortable especially since it is a real scalpel and a real eyeball. But the way the story is told is really creative and it must have been interesting to get around the fact that the main character cannot talk. The close-up shots of sweaty, grunting clients and the hardcore penetration scenes add a real gritty and dirty angle to the film and seeing the way Frigga is treated by both Tony and her clients really helps you hope that she gets the revenge she seeks. A lot of the shots used in the movie are very different and artsy and some of them work while others don't. The super slow motion death scenes were kind of neat at first but by the end they began to lose their charm.

One thing I can really give the director (and his actors) credit for is how far he has gone to add some realism to the film. Apparently the producers had to take a hefty insurance policy out of Christina Lindberg because live ammunition was used in the action scenes and for the heroin injection scenes her veins were actually injected with a saline solution. Non simulated sexual penetration was also used (I'm pretty sure they were spliced in later on) and a real cadaver was used for the eyeball scene. Some people might find using a real body for the purposes of disfigurement on film to be in bad taste but there's no arguing that it does give the movie an extra bit of realism. Also I'm sure a lot of people will be put off by the hardcore scenes but I personally thought that they were an important addition because they help portray the level of abuse that Frigga is put through.

As for its influence on other movies it is pretty obvious where Quentin Tarantino got his inspiration for the KILL BILL character Elle Driver, and I'm pretty sure the final death scene played some part in inspiring HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN as well. Also when I saw Christina Lindberg wielding a shotgun and driving a cop car around while dressed in black I couldn't help but think of MAD MAX. And I'm not quite sure but the whole rape & revenge scenario coupled with the victim being mute has to have influenced Abel Ferarra's MS .45 in some way.

There really isn't much I didn't like about THRILLER apart from perhaps a few drawn out and overused scenes but that's basically nothing. Christina Lindberg is super attractive and a great choice for a sexy and strong female lead and her transformation from innocent farm girl to brutal avenger is really well done. The cinematography is artistic and some of the shots a brilliant, and the soundtrack is quite bizarre but I loved it. If you feel you might be put off by some of the sex or even the eye scene then I suggest you hunt around for one of the other releases. The movie was released under a few different titles including THEY CALL HER ONE EYE and HOOKER'S REVENGE which have different running times although I'm not sure which parts exactly have been removed. If you want to see the movie with all of the sex and violence intact however I suggest you look for the 107 minute long THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE. Very highly recommended.

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