Thriller: They Call Her One Eye

I’ll cry when I’m done killin’

Thriller: A Cruel Picture was recommended by Moon in the Gutter, a fine movie blog. It’s Swedesploitation- a Swedish revenge picture, about a girl who was rendered mute by a sexual assault at a young age, who undergoes even more horrors in early womanhood, and wreaks her justice upon those who have wronged her. She cannot scream for vengeance, but she sure can inflict it.
Never get in a car with a guy named Tony

A very matter of fact depiction of what would have been called “white slavery” in the ’70s, young Madeleine misses her bus, takes a ride with a handsome cad in a sportscar, has a drink and wakes up shot full of heroin and forced to sign a contract that makes her a whore. Our mute heroine is played by the innocent darling Chrisina Lindberg- a gorgeous pin-up girl ubiquitous in the ’70s- a feisty yet naive brunette who is soon entrapped in a hell of addiction and debasement. She claws the face of her first john, and Tony brutally maims her to break her spirit, cutting her eye out with a scalpel. According to IMDb the shot was done with a corpse, and it’s easily one of the most disturbing eye shots you’ll see this side of Un Chien Andalou.
From then on “One-Eye” performs with a pink eye patch, servicing her customers silently to feed her addiction. The film proceeds with a minimalist neorealism, as One-Eye meets fellow enslaved prostitutes like Sally, who tells of her plan to save enough to flee to Switzerland to a rehab clinic. Eventually One-Eye manages to return home to her parents- who have killed themselves in their grief over her disappearance. Soon after, she spends her money on lessons in karate, shooting and stunt driving, in preparation for her revenge. This is interspersed with her sex work- johns such as a twisted photographer, a sadistic woman who wants to dominate her, and hardcore scenes with a beefy ape impaling her to disturbing synth tracks- a descent into madness.
Her revenge is a slow-motion death dance as she shotguns and kicks her way through johns, pimps, and police. Most impressive was a punch that spewed a laser whip of bright red blood from the victim’s mouth, as if he had a chameleon tongue. When the time comes, she changes into a black eyepatch and dons a long black coat- in fashion way before The Matrix and steals a police car, straight out of Vice City. It reminded me more of El Topo (full review) than anything else, though it lacks the obvious symbolism. Bright red blood, stylized death dealt without excitement. One-Eye’s silence becomes evocative as she quietly mows through her victims and coldly serves an unimaginable, fairy-story torture on her pimp, showing that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it pull a man’s head off. Or can you?
The film was brilliant to me in its Michael Haneke-esque indictment of the viewer, taking a Penthouse and Playboy centerfold, making her a mute sex assault victim and a maimed prostitute, and making us watch her in hardcore sex scenes. It certainly drained the eroticism out of seeing her gorgeous body, whether that was director Bo Arne Vibenius’s intention or not. According to his bio, he wanted to make a sleazy picture to recoup the losses from his previous film and made an unlikely hit. It’s arthouse meets grindhouse, and just as disturbing today.

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