Grindhouse Double Feature - Episode Two : Thriller: A Cruel Picture and I Spit on Your Grave
Thriller: A Cruel Picture (aka They Call Her One Eye)
Thriller: A Cruel Picture, also know as They Call Her One Eye, A Hooker's Revenge and Thriller, is a 1973 Swedish rape and revenge exploitation film staring the glamour model turned exploitation movie goddess, Christina Lindberg. With a sweet innocent look and a perfectly proportioned body, Lindeberg was perhaps Sweden's most famous centerfold, appearing in Playboy, Penthouse and various other European Men's Magazines. Thriller tells the story of a young mute woman who is being forced into prostitution and heroin addiction. At one point having her eye gouged out as punishment for rebelling against her captors. A scene which has garnered much controversy, as the director is rumored to have used an actual corpse. She eventually does escape and sets forth training herself to take revenge.
Original marketed as the first film ever to be completely banned in Sweden, although this was not entirely true, as another movie, The Gardener had already been banned in 1912. After it's banning by the Swedish film censorship board it was edited from it's original 107 minutes to 104 and then again to 86 minutes. Still unable to get past the Swedish censors, it was finally cut down to 82. It is this 82 minute version that made it to american theaters.
Two new verisons of the film have recently been released on to DVD. Thriller: They Call Her One-Eye (Vengeance Edition) is basically 104 minute cut, containing some of the more violent action scenes missing from it's original theatrical release. While Thriller: A Cruel Picture (Limited Edition) contains the entire original 107 minutes of footage, including all the violence that was cut from the initial release, as well as some explicit hardcore insert shots. At the time this was not a completely unheard of practice in european film. Many European exploitation movies of the time were co-productions being sold to various markets with various tastes and needs. So different version of a film would be produced sometimes with pornographic material being inserted. Many times being executed quite clumsily with obviously differing actors, lighting, camera angles, and film stock.
Quentin Tarantino has called Thiller "the roughest revenge movie ever", and has said that Lindenberg's character was an inspiration for Darrel Hannah's Elle Driver charcter in the Kill Bill movies. Though I suspect the Patch character from Jack Hill's Switchblade Sisters may have had more of an influence on that particular character.
I Spit on Your Grave (aka Day of the Woman)
Originally titled Day of the Woman, I Spit on Your Grave is considered the seminal film in the rape/ revenge sub-genre. Controversial to this day, the picture first gained infamy in the late 70's and early 80's when critics and women's groups lashed out against it, claiming that it glorified violence against women. Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert led a crusade against the film that eventually led to it being pulled from a Chicago theater. In his review of the film Roger Ebert wrote that it was the worst movie that he had ever seen, referring to it as "a vile bag of garbage... without a shred of artistic distinction," adding that "Attending it was one of the most depressing experiences of my life." While a censored version of the film was released in the U.S. with an R-rating, many other countries, such as Ireland, Norway, Iceland, Canada, and Britain banned it out right.
Camille Keaton (the grand-niece of silent movie star Buster Keaton) stars as Jennifer Hill, a young New York magazine writer vacationing at remote cottage, so she can be undisturbed, as she prepares to write her first novel. While there she's terrorized, brutally assaulted, repeatedly raped, and left for dead by four backwoods country rednecks. A traumatized Jennifer pulls herself together, and methodical tracks down each of here assailants one by one, exacting her revenge.
I Spit on Your Graves reputation is somewhat earned. It's scenes of gang rape are lengthy and graphic, which can make them uncomfortable to watch. However, the movie does not eroticize them. There's a lack of the more lurid sex appeal of many similarly themed exploitation films. The sequences of rape in the film are clearly seen as acts of violence. Jennifer's retribution against her attackers is equally brutal, with one of the movie most notorious scenes ending in the castration of one of the men. She actually ends up using her female sexuality as a weapon against the men, enticing them into letting down their guard. This may be why some recent reappraisals of the film have suggested that it's actually a very pro feminist film.
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