Comparison between the shortened version included on the "Vengeance Edition"-DVD and the uncut version on the "Limited Edition"-DVD.
- Vengeance Edition (cut): 103:01 min
- Limited Edition (uncut): 106:36 min
- 9 cuts
- Duration of the cuts in total: 215,8 sec (= 3:36 min)
In 1974, the Swedish Director Bo Arne Vibenius' (prior known for assisting Ingmar Bergman for the movies Persona (1966) and Hour of the Wolf) movie Thriller was released, at the latest gaining popularity because of Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill. Besides Tarantino's explicit recommendation („The roughest revenge movie ever made“), the eyepatch wearing Elle Driver (played by Daryl Hannah) from Kill Bill is a direct reference to Christina Lindberg's character in Thriller. The exploitation-icon plays Madeleine, who is raped during her childhood and later on catched a Tartar - a pimp who makes her addicted to heroin and forces her to work as a prostitute. When she refuses to do what he says, he stabs her in the eye as a punishment - thereupon she wears an eyepatch throughout the rest of the movie that always fits the color of her outfit. When her parents commit double-suicide when they receive a hateful letter that allegedly was written by Madeleine (in fact, it was written by her pimp), she vows vengeance.
History of Censorship
Even though the story sounds quite simple, the movie was produced in a very drastic way, offering explicit scenes of violence (for example the scene where Madeleine gets stabbed in the eye) as well as shootouts in extreme slow motion (Vibenius used special cameras that were able to record 500 frames per second [these cameras were also used by the military]). Additionally, he hired actors to partake in hardcore sex-scenes (meaning that Miss Lindberg had a body double for the naked scenes), adding up to the movie's scandalous reputation. A few months after the movie was completed, Thriller got the first movie to be forbidden in it's uncensored form in the normally very tolerant country of Sweden. Therefore, Vibenius had a hard time to sell his movie, let alone to find a film distributor to release his movie; the distributor that in the end wanted to release the movie did not shy away from cutting and censoring the movie in any way the studio wanted to. In the American version of the movie, Madeleine was re-named to Frigga, the movie was released with alternative titles such as "They Call Her One-Eye" or "Hooker's Revenge", the hardcore sex-scenes were all cut out again, and several scenes including violence were censored as well. Overall, about 25 minutes of the movie were taken out.
For years, it was hard to find the movie in an uncut version - mostly only low-quality bootlegs offered the uncensored version of the film. Finally, in 2004, the US-Label Synapse Films released the DVD in its uncensored version and completely digitally remastered as a "Limited Edition" (limited to 25000 copies) with the title Thriller - A Cruel Picture. 2005, the same label released the so-called "Vengeance Edition". The cover looks similar, but instead of red, the background of the Vengeance Edition is yellow and has an alternative title: Thriller: They Call Her One Eye. Unlike the Limited Edition, this DVD offers no bonus material except a trailer and a censored version - in fact, this could already be assumed due to the fact that the "One Eye"-title was used for the shortened version in the 70's. However, the "Vengeance Edition" is only 3 minutes shorter and therefore not at all as heavily cut as the old theatrical versions. Most of the cut-out footage is hardcore sex material. Unfortunately, the famous "eye-stabbing"-sequence was shortened as well. Along with the hardcore scenes, the scenes of the real Lindberg (showing her pain and suffering) that are cut in between the hardcore close-ups were taken out as well.
The "Limited Edition" should therefore be preferable. Even though the hardcore sex-scenes might not be too appealing to an average audience, the DVD offers the version that was intended by the director. Additionally, the Limited Edition offers a lot of bonus material.
Both versions offer an own booklet with different texts - the essay included in the "Limited Edition" was written by filmmaker Robert Marucci (among others concerned in "Street Trash"), the essay of the "Vengeance Edition" was written by David Zuzelo.
The running times apply to the shortened "Vengeance Edition".
The black screen on the "Vengeance Edition"-DVD at the beginning is 1 second longer.
The eye-stabbing-scene is faded out 47 frames (=1,9 seconds) earlier in the "Vengeance Edition" 47 Frames (= 1,9 sec) - the close-up shot ends bevor the knife cuts the eye.
In the uncut version this is still shown, some liquid pours out of the eye. On the images it is not easy to see the difference, however, you will notice the difference when watching the different versions. The longer version of this scene is definitively more intense.
Additionally, the black screen after the fade out in the Vengeance Edition is longer than the one in the uncut edition, resulting in no difference in time.
No difference in time!
This scene was shortened in the "Vengeance Edition". In the uncut version, the guy gropes Madeleine a little longer and then pulls down his pants, unveiling his penis. In another sequence, he throws Madeleine on the bed and pulls down her underpants; again, his penis can be seen. After he undressed her, he penetrates her. From then on, his genital area can't be seen anymore, therefore the Vengeance Edition continues at this point.
Close-up of the genital area when the man penetrates Madeleine.
Then follows a more harmless scene of Madeleine turning around to change the position. The guy is now behind her.
There is also an explicit close-up shot of this ado.
In the end, there's a missing scene of Madeleine from the front, moaning. She is obviously muzzy due to the drugs.
Another explicit close-up of the intercourse.
Then follows a shot from the front. During the end, she sinks down. The man, obviously post-orgasmic, follows her movement.
After the sequence of the shooting-lessons, in the Vengeance Edition you directly see the photographer.
The scene of Madeleine shooting heroin (after looking at the syringe for a few moments), followed by close-up shots of sexual intercourse in cowgirl position, accompanied by disturbing reverb-sounds.
In the end we see a sequence of Madeleine putting out her hand; after a while she's given some money for her work which she immediately counts.
Another sex-scene of Madeleine and the suitor. The camera pans top down.
The following sequence starts slightly earlier.
At first, the military training sequence lasts a little longer; one soldier hits another soldier's neck with both hands.
Then you see a photographer/suitor who takes some pictures of Madeleine (respectively her body double) masturbating. Then we see the photographer again before the camera zooms to Madeleine holding a heroin syringe.
Subsequently follows an explicit close up shot of sexual intercourse (cowgirl position), followed by a shot of Madeleine from above counting her money and putting it into a little suitcase.
Then we see Madeleine from the front, being penetrated from behind by a suitor.
Lastly the first smack in the face by a female "customer" was cut out, the Vengeance Edition continues when she hits her for a second time.
Close up of a heroin syringe.
Then follows a very explicit close up shot of Madeleine/the body double having anal sex. Then follows a cut to Madeleine (the real Christina Lindberg) turning to the side - obviously humiliated. In the end, the guy pulls out his penis and ejaculates on her behind in a close up shot.
The following scene of Madeleine training karate moves begins slightly earlier: you can see an additional karate chop.
Coverdesign of the DVDs:
The DVDs were released by the same label and are therefore very similar. While the front covers can only be distinguished from each other by the background color (VE: yellow; LE: red) and the different titles ("Vengeance Edition" instead of "Limited Edition" and "They Call Her One Eye" instead of "a cruel picture"), the text on the back of the dvd was clearly altered. Parts of the text pointing at sex-scenes, the uncut version, as well as the eye-stabbing scene were omitted.
The passages printed in bold were not printed on the back cover of the "Vengeance Edition":
Torn away from home, she rebels against her captor only to have one of her eyes gouged out as punishment (in a scene rumored to have been filmed with an actual corpse).[...]
The 3rd paragraph was also altered and at some points even offers a different text. The bold marked passages can only be read on the respective DVD:
Synapse Films has painstakingly restored THRILLER - A CRUEL PICTURE from original vault materials to bring you the totally uncensored version of the ultimate revenge-exploitation movie! Originally released in the U.S. in a heavily truncated form as THEY CALL HER ONE EYE, THRILLER is presented here with all the graphic sex, violence and action intact. Over 20 minutes of additional footage has been restored!
Synapse Films has painstakingly restored this version of THRILLER from original vault materials. Containing all the over-the-top action and slow-motion fight sequences removed from the original U.S. theatrical version, this DVD edition of THRILLER is an all new experience!
The "Limited Edition" also features a hint on the limitation as well as a warning:
THRILLER - A CRUEL PICTURE is only available in a 25,000 unit Limited Edition production run. This cult gem won't be around forever. Pick this up now or you could miss out on THE exploitation DVD release of 2004!
THIS FILM CONTAINS SCENES OF EXPLICIT SEXUAL CONTENT, NUDITY, GRAPHIC VIOLENCE AND DRUG ADDICTION. FOR SALE TO PERSONS 18 YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER ONLY!
Furthermore, the essay in the Vengeance Edition's booklet offers no hint on the hardcore sex scenes; having no possibility to compare this essay to its original form we can not tell you whether the author did not mention these scenes or Synapse Films just removed these hints from the booklet.
In the text written by Robert Marcucci (included in the Limited Edition's booklet) the author even questions to what extent the hardcore scenes fit into the rest of the movie and if Vibenius just included these scenes for "exploitative" purposes, or manages to clarify Madeleines motives for her actions.
Last but not least: a comparison between the DVD-menus.
For the Limited Edition, the editiors re-named the typical menue-names in a creative way: "Death" (= Play), "Destruction" (= chapter selection), "Mayhem" (= language selection) und "Revenge" (= bonus material); the menu items are selected with a little crosshair. A crosshair in the background shows different scenes from the movie; in the background you can hear sensational comments from the American movie trailer.
The Vengeance Edition's menu is a little more colorful and has "normal" menu items that are selected with a little star. Again, there are some scenes from the movie in the background, but instead of trailer comments you hear the mystical sounds from the movie's finale.