Thriller: A Cruel Picture

In Sweden back in the ’70s there was some crazy shit going on, just like they had in the woods there in the 1800s. Take for example the case of Frigga (Christina Lindberg), the subject of this cruel picture. She’s just an innocent farmgirl who keeps running into some filthy scumbags. In the opening scene she is a little girl being spun around by an old man who you assume is her grandpa or something. Then the guy keels over and blood pours out of his mouth. I don’t understand why, but this somehow symbolizes that the guy raped her. Don’t get me wrong, I am very, very glad that they chose to depict that through symbolism instead of showing it, but I got no clue what that’s all about. It’s a Swede thing.

The trauma of that opening scene causes her to be mute and, the neighbors say, not quite right in the head. She is seeing a special doctor for her troubles but one day she misses the bus and gets picked up by a sleazy hipster asshole who takes her to dinner and hits on her.

Thriller: A Cruel PictureAt first it seems kind of satirical because he keeps hitting on her and doesn’t seem to notice that she never talks. Even when he asks her direct questions he doesn’t notice that she doesn’t answer. But then the guy brings her to his apartment and drugs her drink. As soon as she passes out he makes a weird phone call to a doctor, pre-reminiscent of the phone call in PULP FICTION when the guy catches Bruce and Ving and is gonna have his special redneck way with them.

Well, due to having recently seen LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, CHAOS, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE and VIRGIN SPRING I was pretty fuckin worried about what was gonna happen here, but luckily what happens is horrible but not graphic. Yet. They’re not gonna rape her, instead they shoot her up with all kinds of high quality heroin for several days, to get her addicted. And then they force her into prositution. I guess it’s a sick genre if I’m saying this isn’t that bad compared to other movies of this type. But it is a little less hard to watch than those other ones.

Except – and this is a pretty big one – all the sudden out of the blue they start throwing in these close up hardcore penetration shots whenever she’s getting used by these johns. You’d think maybe this would be to add realism but because the hardcore shots are always closeups you assume it’s not even the same people. It seems tacked on. And I don’t know about you but for me personally it did not add anything to the movie to have to watch some droopy balls bouncing up and down on a girl’s butthole. The only thing admirable I guess is that it makes it one of these subversive, not-at-all-sexy pseudo-porn movies like BROWN BUNNY. If you went to a porno theater to see this one you would be horribly disappointed.

If you know that the American title is THEY CALL HER ONE EYE, you might be wondering why they call her One Eye. I mean that is a pretty weird thing to call somebody, unless they have only one eye. Well, the first time a john comes in to take advantage of poor Frigga, she gives him a badass cat scratch to the face. Her pimp/kidnapper of course doesn’t like the merchandise damaging the customers so he pokes out her eye with a scalpel, and this is shown in graphic detail. I don’t know how they made such a realistic eye but since the girl is not blinking it doesn’t look all that real. So it makes you wince, but you can admire it on a technical level.

So she’s mute, she’s got one eye, she’s addicted to heroin and she’s a sex slave. One would not think life could get much worse for poor Frigga, but one would be wrong. ‘Cause then that fuckin pimp writes a mean letter, supposedly from her, to her parents. She sneaks out and tries to go visit them but they’re dead – maybe murdered by that fucking pimp, but everybody believes they committed suicide because of the letter. Either way, Frigga is not pleased, in my opinion.

So that’s when the badass revenge comes into play. The girls are able to leave the house – they’ll always be back because they need their H. Frigga starts managing her outside time very effectively, taking lessons in karate, stunt driving, guns and military combat. Also she wears alot of cool outfits that make her practically a super hero. At one point she’s got boots, a white fur coat, a short red dress and a matching red eyepatch. If the girl was around now she’d probaly have everybody wanting to wear different colors of eyepatches to be cool. (In fact, she was the inspiration for the character Elle Driver in KILL BILL.)

And then one day, of course, Frigga launches her one woman, one eye revenge campaign, going after each and every motherfucker who has abused her, from a sadistic lesbian john to the pimp himself. As far as I know Sweden doesn’t have a huge legacy of action cinema, so some of the karate and car explosions and stuff are a little stiff. But it’s alot of fun to see this cool eyepatch girl running around with a shotgun and a stolen police car. I don’t think there’s any reference to “an eye for an eye,” maybe because she doesn’t actually take the guy’s eye, but she shows them some serious Old Testament.

Other than the hardcore porn inserts this is actually a classier and more upbeat picture than those other ones I mentioned (with the exception of VIRGIN SPRING). The forced heroin, the eyepatch, the karate and other things give it kind of a comic book quality that makes it less serious and more fun. The colors are beautiful. And this is combined with a sort of experimental art film pretentiousness that makes it even cooler. Alot of the action scenes are done in extreme slow motion, so slow it looks like they’re floating around on the moon. There are some slo-mo shots of blood spraying out of mouths where it looks like a red ribbon blowing in the wind. It’s like prehistoric bullet time. And there’s an experimental electronic soundtrack that adds to the weird feel of the whole thing.

I don’t usually say this, but if somebody smart was doing it I would LOVE to see a remake of this. Of course, you’d want to go with the catchier American title THEY CALL HER ONE EYE. Maybe have the first section a little more realistic, they get her addicted to heroin like any teenage hooker, show her relationships with some of the other hookers who are portrayed naturalistically. So at first it’s sort of grounded in reality but then during the revenge portion it would turn completely crazy. The real reason to do a remake though would be to set up the sequel, THEY STILL CALL HER ONE EYE or ONE EYE’S WAR or whatever you want to call it. Right from the beginning she’s a notorious, almost mythical outlaw, so badass she still drives the stolen police car (now souped up, obviously). Since the first film she has been on a bloody, cross-country murder spree, assassinating pimps, rescuing young hookers and training them to fight, so she has a volunteer army of young female badasses. The opening could be a MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE type break-in to the Player of the Year Ball. Then when she makes some kind of signal all the hoes pull weapons out of their hair, their stilletos, g-strings, etc. and kill all the famous pimps. But then the main story of the movie is about them taking on some kind of rich people sex slavery ring in Washington DC.

There could be a whole series of these things. Come on Hollywood. The future is in anti-pimp remakes of ’70s Swedish hardcore exploitation. You can use my sequel idea if you want it, but I get to write the novelization.

This entry was posted on Sunday, October 1st, 2006 at 9:58 pm and is filed under Action, Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

6 Responses to “Thriller: A Cruel Picture”

  1. I think the eye effect was done using a corpse of some sort. Maybe a cow eye or a cadaver. I remember hearing that somewhere.I also liked the shotgun wound effects, although I think they probably just used squibs.

    One thing that freaked me out was the lesbian chick’s boobs. Or her boob skin, as there wasn’t anything filling out her loose chest skin. I hate to sound like typical-guy-pig, but that was weird looking.

    Also, the heroin dealer that hooks her up with a car and heroin looks just like my cousin Chris.

  2. Maybe you need to have a long talk with Chris. I wouldn’t mind watching this film, but it’s pretty damn expensive on Amazon for a simple ‘I may like it film’.

  3. Got the new Blu-ray of this. They included an edited DVD along with it in case you don’t want to watch the eyeball slicing or the penatration shots. I’ll probably just check my email while those scenes are on because they are far from erotic especially given the context.

  4. Just figured out that they probably named the main character after Frigg, wife of Odin, the Norse god who famously lost an eye. That’s probably pretty on-the-nose for Sweden, but over here it’s a deep cut.

  5. Most likely no one really cares but Vinegar Syndrome is planning to put out a 4k Blu-ray remaster of this. Apparently they got a hold of the original negative. Synapse just put out their Blu-ray of it so I’ll need something special to get theirs. They got interviews with Christina Lindberg so I guess that’ll influence me to buy it again.

  6. So watching the documentary on the latest release of this movie. Christina Lindberg is interviewed. She wasn’t there when they were filming it but she believes and had others she trusted tell her the eyeball slicing scene was filmed in a mourge. It apparently was a young woman who’d just committed suicide. They put makeup on her and did it. I know it was a low budget movie but I’d rather it look fake then them doing that to a young woman that had just taken her life. Ugh. I was fairly appalled honestly.

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