Ms.45 (1981)


Ms.45 (1981)
Cast: Zoe Tamerlis, Steve Singer, Jack Thibeau, Peter Yellen
Director: Abel Ferrara
Nutshell: Brutalized mute taken to the limit lashes back as Scum busting Mama, Ms.45.

“well done, exceedingly violent” Blockbuster

“well made” Maltin’s

“ball breaking entertainment” Time Out


This trashploitation, Grindhouse flick was made by Ferrara around the same time that he created Driller Killer. Clearly the director was going through a less than loving relationship with New York City during the time as he depicts the city as a cesspool of smut and sleaze and degeneracy, which though not too far from the truth, is just a little bit tainted a vision even of the Big Bad Apple.

The action is set in Manhattan’s decrepit “Garment” district where a highly tacky slavedriving designer is cracking the whip to get his subjects to crank out the fodder at faster speeds than ever before. Among the hapless sweathouse workers is a mute and decidedly fragile looking young thing by the name of Thanna.

On her way home one fine day, she is attacked and raped in broad daylight in a little alley and then just when she has managed to drag her brutalized self home to her apartment, she is met with more degradation as a thief is in the process of robbing her home when she returns. She is subjected to the same brutal treatment she received moments before but this time retaliates with murderous rage. Our meek Thanna then undergoes a transformation from meek, mutilated mute to avenging sleaze buster and dedicated male hater.

Its all out jihad on anything with a male organ – be it man or not. Thanna goes out on the town, tarted up beyond all recognition in order to play the human version of a Venus Fly Trap, but in this case the fly is replaced by man. She manages to pick up a succession of sleazy men and obliterate them all to the delight of the largely female audience no doubt. Alas, her vengeance goes off the rails in a serious manner when she starts targeting perfectly innocent people whose only fault is that they are not women! Scores of people are blown away by our Sleaze-busting Ms.45 for no good reason at all, and she even takes the time to turn her murderous weapon on an admittedly very irritating mongrel belonging to her landlady. Dog lover’s are in for a Sixth Sense like twist ending which will have them in raptures.

Meanwhile, there is a rather comic interlude when Thanna, dressed as a Whore/Mother Superior fusion, does a “You Talkin’ to Me?” from Taxi Driver. She practices picking off her victims in a very De Niro-ish manner in an obvious nod to Scorsese’s classic. The movie could even be regarded as a twisted feminist take on the Taxi Driver theme taken to the limit. The movie fairly gripping and tightly directed though it has that typically Ferrara griminess to it. One of the most unsatisfying aspects of the film is that having seen our avenging angel of scum-busting obliterate all these admittedly sleazy sort of men, she didn’t sort out the huge sleazeball who raped her in the alleyway.

There was also one totally bizarre and unexplained victim who she doesn’t manage to kill yet tries really hard. There is an oriental fellow who Thanna is determined to blow away, but we don’t know where he came from or what he ever did to deserve it. Which rather suggests that the film could have been edited in a rather brutal way, or that I fell asleep and woke up not recognizing the characters. The latter is a more likely explanation!

Not a bad exploitation effort at all, grimy, low budget and with sufficient sleaze to bear the Ferrara touch. Done with a certain gutter, street level style that Ferrara manages to evoke with such ease.