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Ms. 45 (1981)

What a bizarre movie!

Ms. 45 is an exploitation flick released originally in 1981.  It follows the life of Thana, a young, mute seamstress working in New York who is raped twice in a single day.  Traumatized by those events, she goes on a killing spree, randomly killing men with a .45 caliber gun.  Thus, Ms. 45 was born.  At first, she seems to have a motive – to dispatch any male person who would attempt to take advantage of her.  But later on, the motive becomes blurred, as she targets random men making out with their girlfriends, not related to or threatening Thana in any way.  In its bloody denouement, Thana dresses as a pistol wielding nun (don’t ask why, there are no answers) and goes on a shooting rampage at a club that her friends are attending.

Ms. 45 is one of the first full length features by renowned director, Abel Ferrara (Bad Lieutenant, King of New York).  Much like his other movies, Ms. 45 goes for the gritty New York feel, showing us the dirty and ugly side of the city.  The movie has an undeniable 80s vibe, with its thick paint red blood and the blaring saxophone soundtrack.  It’s an era that is hard to escape.

The movie was panned in its original release but has since become a cult hit.  The movie is not a good movie by any conventional means.  The story is senseless, but perhaps that’s the appeal.  It’s more about the intrigue to see what she’ll will do (kill) next.  She’s so unpredictable.  She kills for the sake of killing.  And because she’s a mute, she doesn’t really get to express why.  That said, it does become a bit tired.  Because there isn’t a strong motive, the story isn’t interesting.  And because she’s always killing with the .45, the kills aren’t interesting either.  It’s like a slasher movie with the same slash.

What is fascinating though is the real life history of, Zoe Lund, the young actress who played Thana.  Apparently, she was only 17 at the time when the movie was filmed, but lied about her age to get casted.  She was a talented young woman – a musician, a writer and actress.  She co-wrote Bad Lieutenant, often regarded as Ferrara’s best movie.  The most fascinating thing about her is that she was a very staunch and vocal supporter in the use of heroin.  To her, it was nothing to be hidden, she was proud of its use and its effects.  Quote Ferrara, “Zoe was one of these people who thought heroin was the greatest thing in the world, and she did until the day she died”.

She died tragically in 1999 at the young age of 37 from heart failure as a result of cocaine use.

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