IMDB : http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0072285/
Rated : X or Unrated
Even though the film GRIND HOUSE appears to have financially failed (at least until foreign markets and DVD sales are accounted for) it still sparked interest in a genre that has been dormant since the mid to late 80s, when VHS and multiplexes begin to multiply and destroy. Why risk going to a seedy theater in a bad part of town, when you could rent a VHS and watch a guilty pleasure in the privacy of your home? And there was NO way multiplexes were going to show some (if not most) of these violent, sex filled and degrading films with titles like Three on a Meat hook, The Corpse Grinders, Water Power aka The Enema Bandit and other, even more lurid titles.
Which of course brings me to Thriller, A Cruel Picture, AKA Thriller - en grym film AKA They call her one eye.
The Film was actually filmed in Sweden (who would have thought the swiss have such issues?) where it was initially banned, then heavily re-cut. Of course, the film was dubbed (poorly) into English and released to the grind house circuit, where word of mouth made it a cult favorite and sent sales through the roof. A young Quentin Tarentino clearly took note, as his Daryl Hannah character is clearly modeled after Christina Lindberg, who plays the heroine of this film and is, depending on the dubbing or subtitles, called either Frigga, Madeleine or One Eye. I should add for posterity however that he also based Ms. Hannah's character partly on 'Patches' of Switchblade Sisters Fame.
This film comes in two versions, one of which is the uncensored or 'X' version, the other the edited version. This film DOES contain (in the unrated version) hardcore pornography which of course would explain the ratings mess, banning and of course financial success in grind houses. Of course, I will be reviewing the 'X' version, as to get the full grind house experience.
Note : some spoilers, although I will leave most of the end alone. I recommend this film, so I don't want to give away all the good parts.
Plot : The film opens quickly and rather disturbingly with a young girl who is walking by her self in a park. The first thing I noticed for this film is despite the decade it was filmed in, and the seedy and disturbing plot, this film is well filmed and the cinematography is smooth. Of course, all attention is taken by the creepy old man who proceeds (in a cut away, thank god) to molest then rape the little girl. This is right in the beginning of the film!
Needless to say, this traumatizes the little girl, who is named Frigga (sub titled version), who grows up to be stunning Swedish blond beauty Christina Lindberg and is also mute.
Her parents decide to send her to therapy in the city (they live in a rural area) in the hopes that one day she will regain her voice. One morning she misses the bus, but gets 'lucky' and hitches a ride from a good looking gentleman in a fancy sports car called Tony. Tony not only gives her a lift, but gets her to go out to dinner with him. He then convinces her to go back to his bachelor pad (yes, you have to lose your inner skeptic to watch this film) where he gives her a glass of wine, which unknowingly to her he has drugged. She of course loses consciousness.....
This is where the film REALLY starts to get grimy. In a scene almost taken from the 'Olga' movies, a crooked Doctor is called in who proceeds to inject her with heroin. The plan is to get her addicted to heroin and keep her docile, at least initially until he can then convert her into a hooker for rich businessmen. He will supply the heroin, she will supply her body, and of course he'll keep the profit. Classy guy, no?
When she finally awakens up, she is of course dependent on Heroin and, as Tony calmly points out, she'll be doing whatever he says. Also needless to say, she is less then thrilled, and she tries to escape twice, the second time when her first 'John' is brought in. She brutally scratches the guy's face, and as he complains to Tony, going on about how he is supposed to explain this to his wife, Tony decides to deal with the rebellious girl. By removing her eye.
This brings up one of the more legendary parts of this film, the actual removal of the eye. Legend (and actress Christina Lindberg) has it that a actual cadaver was used for this scene. I must admit, it DOES look pretty realistic. And let me say there is NO cutaways for the actual incision into the eye. It's pretty gruesome.
Now spiritually broken and heavily addicted to Heroin, Frigga agrees to start sleeping with the customers. This is where we get some of the hard core inserts, although it's pretty obvious the girl in the inserts is not the leading actress. Most people (I would hope) would NOT find this erotic, as the 'Johns' are heavy, leering perverted looking creeps. For bad movie lovers, try to picture Coleman Francis going at it, and you'll get the point.
The film gets even more sadistic, as Frigga finds out that Tony sent her parents a letter saying how she ran away from home due to them, and hated them her whole life. She ends up going back to her farm on a Monday (her day off, the logic also being that now she is broken and addicted and must come back) where she discovers to her horror that her parents have both died. In the sub titled version it's a double suicide, the English dub is a little less clear.
This and the death of her friend Sally, a fellow prostitute who is killed by Tony, gets her to set her mind on revenge on Tony, his parters (the Doctor and a lesbian who is also in on the act) and anyone else in her way.
This is where the revenge part of the film takes place, and I forewarn you, you really have to suspend your belief a bit. Frigga begins to take lessons in marksmanship, Karate and automobile driving, all on Mondays (natch) while looking for her own supply of heroin to get out from Tony's clutches. The true turning point comes when she dons a full black Leather Trench coat, Black Leather Jeans and shirt, with matching eye patch. It's quite a image, and pretty stunning, to be honest. She's gorgeous, but pretty deadly looking.
This begins the last 1/3 of the film, the revenge part. In short order and with shot gun in hand, she begins to gun down all of Tony's crew, saving the big boss for last (of course). I don't want to give to much away, but the ending of the film (and Tony) is CLASSIC, and must be seen to be believed.
All the action sequences in the last reel are done in slow motion, which is depending on your attitude, either real cool or real boring. I enjoyed the scenes myself, as they had a very 'Wild Bunch' quality about them. When Frigga shotguns someone , it's loud and in slow-mo, with the guy flying backwards in a burst of blood. Same for the car accidents and chase scenes.
What I liked about this film : Very stylish and well filmed, especially for a grind house film. This has the looks of a film maker who knows what he's doing, as opposed to some clown just pointing a camera. The sub titled version (where Frigga becomes Madelaine) is better as far as plot goes, but it's still comprehensible in the dubbed version. The actors and actresses are pretty good on the whole, and Christina Lindberg, who portrays ol' One Eye, is a stunningly gorgeous woman. There is no other way to put it, this chick is HOT. And yes, you do get to see her 'nekkid' as Joe Bob Briggs would say, quite a bit. Although porn hounds will be disappointed that she is not in the hard core sequences. Depending on your preference, the action sequences are pretty good, although film goers who are more from a 80s action school may be bored.
What I didn't like about the film : Not much, actually! The inner skeptic may cry out once in a while, but at the same point, it is a grind house film. I'm not expecting high brow art, you know. A lot of people would consider this a 'Bad Movie' but it's all relative. I mean, why else would we be at this site?
In summary, I highly recommend this film if you're looking for odd or different films. It's a prime example of the grind house genre, and what's more it's pretty damn entertaining despite the griminess of the material. Depending on your aversion to pornography, I would probably recommend the 'X' or unrated version.
I think I may review 'The Amazing Mr. No Legs' next, keep the Grind House spirit going. Otherwise, I hope you enjoyed this short review. I was going to go at it Apostic style (B-notes) but then again I figured I'd give you guys a chance to judge it on your own.