9/23/08

Kill Quentin:Part 1 Tale of The Eyepatch



Hello and welcome Moonies to the first in a series where the Bug will be investigating three of the movies that formed the basis of Quentin Tarantino's movies Kill Bill Part One and Two. Tonight's feature is a tale of sex, brutality, revenge, and an eyepatch. When Darryl Hannah was cast as eye-patched assassin Ellie Driver a.k.a California Mountain Snake, Quentin told her to watch this feature as preparation for her role, and I have no doubt in my mind that she took his advice. I bring you...


Thriller: A Cruel Picture (1974) starring Christina Lindberg, Heinz Hopf, and Solveig Andersson. Directed by Bo Arne Vibenius.



Our film opens with the rape of a little girl. Thankfully we are spared the nasty details on film, but this is the last occasion we get to take a pass. Fifteen years later the girl, Frigga (Lindburg), works on her parents farm in Sweden and has not spoken for all these years due to her childhood trauma. Her father reminds her she must leave to catch the bus to the city for a treatment with her Doctor, but Frigga arrives too late and misses it. Fortunately for her, a nice man, Tony (Hopf), drops by and offers to give her a ride into town. Frigga agrees and even forgets about her appointment, and instead joins Tony for dinner where she imbibes copious amounts of alcohol. After dinner he takes her back to his swinging seventies pad for some more drinks, and Frigga passes out on Tony's couch. When she wakes several days later, she finds she has been plied with drugs and is now a heroin addict. Tony forces her to sign a letter to her parents saying she has run away, and he forces her into a life of prostitution.



Tony sets her up on a schedule. She will take clients every day of the week except for Mondays. Mondays she has off which seems like a considerate move on his part, but one he'll later come to regret. Frigga has her first client come in, and she rakes her nails over his face. Naturally, Tony is not amused, and he throws her down on the bed and cuts out her eye with a scalpel. This scene is extremely harrowing and could be compared to Fulci's eye gouging scene from Zombi 2, but there's something that sets it apart. It's not a special effect. The eye belonged to a young woman who had committed suicide, and the hospital she was taken to allowed her body to be used in the scene. As if the scene itself was not graphic enough, the "extras" on the disk I watched contained the original uncut footage where you see the scalpel not just going into the eye, but also coming out.



When we next see Frigga she is wearing an eyepatch (which changes color with her outfits) and has resigned herself to her life of whoring. She begins taking clients including a muscle bound Swede, a guy who just wants to take her picture in various states of undress, and a dominate lesbian. In the scenes with the Swede, hardcore porn footage has been cut in. Obviously not involving the actors, the footage comes off more funny than erotic as most early '70's porn is want to do. Frigga soon meets a friend in fellow whore Sally who occupies the room next door. Sally soon manages to sneak a letter away from Tony sent to Figga from her parents begging her to come home. On one of her Mondays off Frigga hops the bus and returns to the farm. Unfortunately, she is too late and her heartbroken parents have committed suicide. This coupled with the murder of her friend Sally is her last straw, and she begins to cultivate a plan to get even.



Frigga begins to take classes on her day off. She learns karate, driving, shooting, and hand to hand combat from a couple of the Swedish special forces. These scenes are great. You basically get montages of training, porn, abuse, and then rinse and repeat. With every training session she gets better at shooting her Mauser and driving the crappy blue "sports car" that illustrates why there are no legendary Swedish stock car racers. When she's finally done with her training she brings down her revenge on Tony and all the others that used and abused her. All the death scenes are filmed in a graphic slow motion which brings to mind a blend of Sam Pekinpah's films crossed with the Japanese offerings of John Woo, and the deaths are gloriously filmed. Everyone who needs to get it does, and Tony most of all gets exactly what is coming to him.



Thriller: A Cruel Picture has been released all over the world over the years under various titles and with various cuts. The version I saw from Synapse Films is the complete non-edited version. There is another available out there also, it is called Thriller:They Call Her One Eye. From my understanding, this cut maintains everything in the movie except the hardcore porn. It was also distributed at one point in the US by American International under the titles Hooker's Revenge and simply They Call Her One Eye.



So what exactly did Quentin take from this film? Well for starters the eyepatch and the long jacket Frigga wears is also mirrored by Ellie in Kill Bill. Other than that it's more of a theft of tone. Sure there were tons of revenge flicks made before and after this one, but the strange atonal music that accompanies her killings surely was an influence on the music hat followed Quentin's Bride through his films, but more than that. The character trait of a woman killer on a ruthless and efficient path toward her vengeance is also echoed in his film. So this one may be a more nuanced theft, but elements are surely there.



I want to strongly recommend this film to anyone, especially fans of '70's cinema or revenge flicks. The film may contain many moments of course violence and sexploitation, but it was stunningly filmed. One of the first thing I checked out was the cinematographer Andreas Bellis who has consistently worked in films since then, and in my mind deservedly. The composition of the shots are beautiful, and many of them harken to shots I've seen in movies by a certain American director. (I won't call any names here, but his name sounds a lot like Blinton Barinbino) I'd also like to mention the great performance turned in by Christine Lindberg. A character that stays mute for the whole film could wear on the viewer, but she is so expressive with her body language and her eyes that she fully realizes the character without ever uttering a sound.



Check this one out folks and have yourself a fine time. If you want to stay away from the porn, then pick up Thriller:They Call Her One Eye. Otherwise pick up this film in it's full glory and you won't be sorry, and don't forget to join us next week for the second part in this series spotlighting Lady Snowblood.


Bug Rating





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