Monday, December 16, 2013

Ms. 45

Ms. 45 Directed By Abel Ferrara, Starring Zoe Tamerlis (1981).
I first became aware of this film in middle school the same way I fell in love with Vice Squad and NightHawks thru clips seen in Terror In The Aisles. When I saw it in the theater recently, I was hoping for the same marijuana addled, drunken frathouse seen in Terror with the ghost of Donald Pleasence seated between us and people yelling at the screen, sadly this never happened. 
   I did have a blast and had read many conflicting reviews in the past regarding Ferrara's symbolism (the methodical kissing of bullets in a nun habit, that type of nun-sense would resurface in Bad Lieutenant). Also certain critics were appalled that the rapes made her more powerful and sexual. It's not clear to me why this film is back in the theaters, although I'm glad it is, I've seen it five times and it has gotten better with age. I'll spare going into detail on the plot-line (since this film has been overly reviewed)! 
One of Terry Hawkins pals escaped!
   In my opinion there are certain religious and psychotic elements that delve deeper than just a typical vigilante exploitation flick. Thana (Zoe Tamerlis Lund) specifically targets all men, regardless if they wronged her or not, just the fact that they exist, merits her furious rage and with each murder she gets more attractive. There's never a moment where she breaks down, sheds her soft spoken demeanor and goes to a gun store, it just naturally appears once she loses her sanity (it's becomes an extension of her hatred toward the opposite sex). She is more introverted than ever and even though she's surrounded by stronger female characters, she never communicates to anyone on how she is feeling and internalizes it until it transforms into psychotic frenzy. The men don't do us any favors by acting like drooling horn dogs or self diluted jag-offs.
Fashion designer jag-off

   Thana, after deciding not to join her work friends for a drink, heads back to her apartment and becomes the unfortunate victim of two ugly sexual assaults in the same day (one by the director in a clear mask). After spending five minutes recovering from being humped on a trash can (ahem excuse the Harmony Korine accidental reference), another dude rapes her at gunpoint. I like how, she uses her seamstress skills to pummel the creep with an iron and then hacks through his fully clothed arm with a kitchen knife! 
Ironing off the clock
   She has nightmares about her snooping, but likable landlady (as a child babbles and dogs incessantly seem to bark). The hounds bark almost on an endless loop throughout the film and all men in 45 are some of the most lurid and skeevy, (all of them are unhinged predators or sad sacks). 
So What, I know I'm talented
   Out of her gaggle of co-workers, my favorite is the attractive street tough Laurie (Darlene Stuto, who sadly stopped acting after this). Laurie is the only one with the balls to stab Thana in the back in the final shootout, she looks like one of the Lizzies, the all lesbian gang in The Warriors
   In most of the rape/revenge subgenre there's a heroine that emerges (usually it's Linda Blair) and in this case, the sexual assaults psychically change Thana from a frail timid mute to an lethal feminist enforcer. The murders seem to give her enough strength and confidence to wipe out every male in the five Boroughs.  

Glow in the dark barracuda mouth
   In the new version, I noticed that her crocodile-like mouth glows in the dark like E.T.'s heart beat, It was unintentionally hysterical! There are some quick edits that are still enact from the original cut (but this new version of the film is more complete than ever). I forgot that she walks around each day dropping off pieces of the rapist's corpse throughout the city.
   The music is lowdown squawky saxophone or chilling piano, during the party scene I thought it was strange that they played it over a fake band using a trumpet, the score is being re-released by Death Waltz Records
   The only comparison people use for this film is Death Wish and like that series, I never felt justified as people are mowed down, Thana is more of a serial killer than a vigilante, because she hunts down any male in sight, she even ridiculously kidnaps her landladies dog Phil and points a gun at him! Vigilantes always get away scott free and since she's a selective killer, she dies.
Stop spoiling the ending Cranky!
   I always feel relieved when Laurie kills her at the end, because her suffering is over. Tragically in reality, Zoe Tamerlis died of a drug overdose at only 37! 
   Practically everyone in the film disappeared, never to act again (unless IMDB is broken again). I thought I had recognized the boss as actor Kenneth Nelson (Hellraiser, Boys In The Band), but it's not him, it's an actor named Albert Sinkys and I'm glad I never bet anyone because I would have lost. You'd think that women would be repulsed by this male revenge fantasy enacted through an attractive feminine killer, but I've found it's rarely the case. The audience I saw it with got all the jokes and I'm glad to see the uncut version of this exploitation classic getting the attention it deserves, don't miss it in theaters.

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