Plot: What’s it about?
Madeline (Christina Lindberg) was the victim of a brutal sexual assault, one which left her mute and shaken to the core. She was then pushed into prostitution, where she was beaten, forced to take potent narcotics, and abused by almost everyone she encountered. Her pimp is perhaps the cruelest of her abusers, as he humiliates her, degrades her, and when she disobeys him, he turns to sadistic violence. After she scratches one her clients, her pimp takes retribution by gouging out of her eyes with a scalpel. As if her life wasn’t tragic enough, with all of the abuse and degradation, now she has been mutilated and left with half of her vision. Unable to speak and now with limited vision, she learns that her parents have killed themselves over her plight. This ignites a spark deep within Madeline, setting into motion a chain of events that will impact all of those who have wronged her, as she has had enough. She begins an intense schedule of martial arts training, firearms lessons, and driving instruction, to hone her skills. After some time, she can handle guns with ease and hold her own in hand to hand combat, so she begins her course of action. She takes aim on the men who attacked and savaged her, with plans to extract lethal vengeance. But will she fulfill her desire for revenge, or will she only face further torment?
This is one that cult cinema fans have wanted with a vengeance, as Thriller: A Cruel Picture is one of the most brutal movies of all time. You can file Thriller under revenge or exploitation, maybe even offbeat action or horror, as the movie blends traits from all of those genres, then throws in some unique elements of its own. Not to mention some hardcore sex, though those scenes were inserted after production and body doubles were utilized, so starlet Christina Lindberg wasn’t part of the actual sex. Lindberg (Swedish Wildcats, What Schoolgirls Don’t Tell) does get naked often however, so her gorgeous body is on display in Thriller, no worries there. But she is all business most of the time, so she leans more toward violence than sex, but what is sexier than a woman with a sawed-off shotgun? Thriller is not for the squeamish, as it contains graphic violence, hardcore sex, and scenes of forced drug use, rape, torture, and brutal abuse. A scalpel is used to pluck out an eye in a memorable scene, in which a real corpse was rumored to have been used. The film is not all shock however, as director Bo A. Vibenius frames the content in an almost artistic fashion. This is not the kind of stuff you’ll find anywhere else, that’s for sure. Synapse has given us the uncut and uncensored version of Thriller, plus a slew of terrific supplements, so if you’re interested, then this disc is well worth a purchase.
Video: How does it look?
Thriller: A Cruel Picture is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Synapse went back to the original vault elements and restored the visuals, which means Thriller has never looked better, maybe not even in theaters. The image has much more depth and sharpness than ever before, so the small visual touches come off in smoother form, which enhances the entire visual experience. The print is in good condition, with less grain and defects than in most video editions, which is excellent news, of course. The contrast is top shape here, with accurate black levels and such, but colors do look a tad faded at times. But given the material involved, I think Synapse has given us the best possible visual presentation.
Audio: How does it sound?
The original Swedish soundtrack is preserved here, though as expected, most of the dialogue still has a looped audio presence. The material is held back a little by the limits of mono, but on the whole, the audio is more than acceptable. The gunshots, screams, and other sound effects come across well, though power is low. But in truth, you don’t need intense audio power for a movie like this one, though a surround remix would have been nice. The dialogue is thin and sounds looped, as I said before, but no real complaints there. This disc also includes an English language track, as well as optional English subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes some outtakes, a massive collection of still photos, an alternate version of the harbor fight sequence, a slideshow of a scene lost in a film lab mishap, a television spot, some talent files, and three of the film’s theatrical trailers.