Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Thriller: A Cruel Picture: Standard Edition – Vinegar Syndrome (UHD/Blu-ray Combo)

Theatrical Release Date: Sweden, 1973
Director: Bo Arne Vibenius
Writer: Bo Arne Vibenius
Cast: Christina Lindberg, Heinz Hopf, Despina Tomazani, Per-Axel Arosenius, Solveig Andersson, Björn Kristiansson

Release Date: May 31st, 2022
Approximate Running Times: 108 Minutes 14 Seconds (Thriller: A Cruel Picture), 90 Minutes 3 Seconds (They Call Her One Eye)
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 2160 Progressive / HEVC / H.265 / HDR10 (Both Versions)
Rating: NR
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Swedish English, DTS-HD Mono English (Thriller: A Cruel Picture), DTS-HD Mono English (They Call Her One Eye)
Subtitles: English, English SDH (Thriller: A Cruel Picture), English SDH (They Call Her One Eye)
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $49.98

"Rendered mute after being sexually assaulted as a youth, Madeleine (sexploitation superstar, Christina Lindberg) lives an isolated existence in her parents' farmhouse. Missing the bus on her way to town one day, Madeleine accepts a lift from a wealthy and charming stranger named Tony. What starts off as an innocent meeting soon takes a nightmarish turn when Madeleine learns that Tony is really a sadistic pimp on the make, who soon enslaves her into his prostitution racket by forcing her to become dependent on heroin. After refusing to service a client, Tony punishes Madeleine by violently blinding her in one eye, forcing her to wear an eyepatch. Despite her limited means, Madeleine secretly saves money to undergo karate and weapons training behind Tony's back. Once she reaches lethal proficiency, Madeleine embarks on a bloody road to revenge against her captors..." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 5/5 (Thriller: A Cruel Picture), 4.5/5 (They Call Her One Eye)

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "Newly scanned & restored in 4k from it’s 16mm original camera negative."

Thriller: A Cruel Picture comes on a 66 GB dual layer 4K UHD.

Disc Size: 60.9 GB

Feature: 60.7 GB

The source used for Thriller: A Cruel Picture looks phenomenal. Color saturation, image clarity, shadow detail, and compression are solid, and grain looks organic. When compared to the Synapse Films transfer, this new transfer is a revelation that is superior in every way.

Thriller: A Cruel Picture comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 42.1 GB

Feature: 31.2 GB

They Call Her One Eye comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 45.5 GB

Feature: 24.54 GB

Though the source used for They Call Her One Eye’s transfer has many of the same qualities that Thriller: A Cruel Picture’s transfer does, It comes from a different source that looks great. Color saturation, black levels, and image clarity are strong; there are no issues with compression, and grain remains intact.

Audio: 4.25/5

Thriller: A Cruel Picture comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in Swedish and a DTS-HD mono mix in English.

Thriller: A Cruel Picture comes with two subtitle options, English subtitles for the Swedish language track and English SDH subtitles for the English language track.

They Call Her One Eye comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and removable English SDH subtitles.

All of the audio tracks are in great shape; there are no issues with background hiss or distortion; dialog comes through clearly; everything sounds balanced; and ambient sounds are well-represented. Also, range-wise, all of these audio mixes sound robust when they should.

Extras:

Extras on the 4K UHD disc include an audio commentary track with author and film critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas.

The extras on the Blu-ray disc with Thriller: A Cruel Picture include a theatrical trailer under the title Hooker’s Revenge (2 minutes 54 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English with removable English SDH subtitles); a TV spot under the title They Call Her One Eye (1 minute 33 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English with removable English SDH subtitles); a theatrical trailer under the title Thriller: A Cruel Picture (1 minute 27 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English with removable English SDH subtitles); a theatrical trailer under the title Thriller: A Cruel Picture (1 minute 27 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English with removable English SDH subtitles); a teaser under the title Thriller: A Cruel Picture (1 minute 46 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English with removable English SDH subtitles); a making-of documentary titled Thriller-A Cruel Documentary (42 minutes 57 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English and Swedish with removable English SDH subtitles for Swedish language and removable English SDH subtitles for all languages); and an audio commentary track with Alexandra Heller-Nicholas.

The extras on the Blu-ray disc with They Call Her One Eye include a SAAB Commercial directed by Bo Arne Vibenius (1 minute 2 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Swedish, no subtitles), a rare Christina Lindberg music tracks from her 7" single Allt blir tyst igen/Du Är Min Enda Kärlek (6 minutes 59 seconds), outtakes (5 minutes 53 seconds, Dolby Digital mono with music from the film playing in the background), two Thriller: A Cruel Picture radio spots (1 minute 51 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English with removable English SDH subtitles), stills galleries: behind-the-scenes (26 images), publicity (47 images), and artwork & press (36 images), Alamo Drafthouse Q&A with Christina Lindberg from a November 11, 2017 screening of THRILLER in Austin, TX (31 minutes 43 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English with removable English SDH subtitles), an interview with Christina Lindberg by Christian Valor from 2015 titled Christina Lindberg: The Paris Interview (59 minutes 44 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English with removable English SDH subtitles), an interview with Christina Lindberg by filmmaker Adrian Garcia Bogliano from 2017 titled Adrián and Christina (57 minutes 25 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English with removable English SDH subtitles).

Other extras include reversible cover art and a slipcover.

Summary:

The creative force behind Thriller: A Cruel Picture was Bo Arne Vibenius, who produced, wrote, and directed the film. His own origins as a filmmaker can be traced back to Ingmar Bergman's Persona and Hour of the Wolf.

Thriller: A Cruel Picture is a revenge story about a young woman named Madeleine who has not spoken since a traumatic event from her childhood. From there, her idyllic life on her parents' farm is disrupted when she accepts a ride from a stranger named Tony, a pimp who gets her hooked on heroin and turns her into a prostitute. Things take a darker turn when Madeleine learns about her parents' suicide. This event breaks her and sets her on a path of vengeance against those responsible.

From its opening moments, Thriller: A Cruel Picture establishes an unsettling tone that some viewers may find a grueling trek. In the opening sequence, Madeleine is molested by an old man in the park. This sequence's tonal shift from playful to sinister makes it all the more potent. Other notable disturbing moments include a scene where Tony slices Madeleine’s eye after she attacks one of her John's and hardcore XXX sex inserts that were always intended to be part of the film, despite the performers' obviously being doubles.

Thriller: A Cruel Picture is a textbook example of how casting can make or break a film. Fortunately for Thriller: A Cruel Picture, Christina Lindberg (Sex & Fury) was a perfect choice for the role of Madeleine. She does a great job of portraying a character whose only means of communication are her facial and body expressions. She is also convincing in her character's evolution from naivety to cold-blooded killer.

From a production standpoint, there’s not an area where Thriller: A Cruel Picture does not deliver and then some. The premise is well-executed, and the narrative does a great job of building momentum to its explosive finale. The narrative can be separated into three sections: the opening act focuses on Madeleine’s downward spiral, the middle section shifts the focus to Madeleine’s preparation for her revenge, and the last act is a series of bloodletting sequences. That said, the revenge sequences are very effective; slow motion and unrealistic sound design heighten these moments.

Every now and then, when you revisit a film, your opinion of said film changes. And this is what happened to me when I revisited Thriller: A Cruel Picture for the first time in fifteen years. But upon that initial viewing, I could see why Thriller: A Cruel Picture had a devoted fan base. I have to say that I was not one of those who enjoyed Thriller: A Cruel Picture when I first encountered it. Flash forward all these years later, I decided to give Thriller: A Cruel Picture another chance. And to my surprise, my opinion had drastically changed. Ultimately, Thriller: A Cruel Picture is an in-your-face exploitation film that lives up to its reputation.

Though this release's transfer improves upon Synapse Films' DVD release, It is still a transfer that leaves plenty of room for improvement.

Thriller: A Cruel Picture makes its way to 4K UHD via an exceptional release from Vinegar Syndrome that comes with a solid audio/video presentation and an abundance of insightful extras, highly recommended.

                                                             4K UHD screenshots.













                                         They Call Her One Eye Blu-ray screenshots.









Written by Michael Den Boer

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