Thriller: A Cruel Picture (1973)

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*. And the reason this movie is considered by many to be a provocative underground classic while I Spit on Your Grave is despised as one of the sleaziest exploitation flicks ever made is . . . ?
*. I mean, if anything Vibenius’s motives (which were to make a “commercial-as-hell crap-film” so as to recoup his losses on his first effort) were even more crass than Meir Zarchi’s. Which is, I think, saying something.
*. Just because Quentin Tarantino thinks a movie is cool, or because it’s still very hard to track down in an uncut version, doesn’t mean it’s any good. I’m just saying.

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*. The only saving grace is Christina Lindberg’s face. It can really fill the screen, albeit rarely with any expression attached. Kitted out with black eyepatch, trenchcoat and shotgun she is an avenging icon.
*. Why is Madeleine/Frigga mute? Because Vibelius knew his limitations as a screenwriter? Because he knew Lindberg, though a great visual presence, couldn’t act and so didn’t want to embarrass her? Because it just made things easier, especially as the movie was going to have to be dubbed into English anyway? All of the above.
*. It’s worth watching this movie in the dubbed version with the English subtitles turned on. There are whole scenes that are wildly divergent, even in relation to simple matters like the amounts of money that are being referenced.
*. From The Virgin Spring to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, you don’t mess with Swedish women. There’s going to be hell to pay later.

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*. The eyeball scene: shocking. The porn: dull and mildly disgusting. Few things date like porn.
*. Aside from Lindberg and a few other minor things, I thought this was a downright terrible, nearly incompetent film. The intercutting of Frigga’s training with her work in the brothel is ineffective, the action sequences are clumsy and unconvincing, and the story really doesn’t make any sense (how does Frigga get that letter from her parents? why doesn’t she just check herself into a clinic, or contact the police on her day off?). The business with the cars exploding when they drive off road or come into contact with anything is laughable (the first explosion was strange enough, but when it’s followed by a bigger explosion, and then two cars bursting into fireballs you have to shake your head). And finally there’s an odd collapsing of time throughout. Tony calls up some hitmen and a few seconds later, there they are! Frigga posts a letter and Tony gets it and they seem to rendezvous later the same day. I mean, Frigga hasn’t been driving around in that police car, with lights and siren going, for the better part of a week waiting for him to show up has she?
*. Things I did like: The finale, just for being eccentric. I guess Frigga really is a farm girl at heart. The backward tracking shot as Frigga leaves the home of her first victim. The fishing village location for the shootout (it had me thinking of the ending of Insomnia). The ropes of blood that go flying out of the mouths of the cops in slow motion. The fact that Tony the pimp has to give his two hitmen their guns because, of course, they don’t have any.
*. That’s not enough. I wouldn’t recommend this movie to anyone.

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