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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 5/4/00

Ms. 45
1981 (2000) - Navaron Films/Rochelle Films (Image)

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Ms. 45 Film Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B/D-

Specs and Features

80 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.78:1), single-sided, single-layered, Snapper case packaging, film-themed menu screens, scene access (12 chapters), languages: English (DD 1.0 mono), subtitles: none

Abel Ferrara is such the New York filmmaker, that he makes Scorsese look like he shot his films in Chicago. If you think Taxi Driver is gritty, take a look at Driller Killer, Bad Lieutenant or this one, Ms. 45. Who-boy, this is a film that just makes you want to wash yourself up after watching it. It's just that... dirty.

The film follows a young woman named Thana (Zoë Tamerlis, later Zoë Lund), who lives alone in the city. She works in the garment district for a fashion designer and she's so shy she can't/won't speak. One day, while walking home from work, she finds herself attacked and brutally raped in the alley outside her apartment by a man in a Halloween mask (Abel Ferrara in a cameo only he would volunteer for). When it's over, she gathers herself and goes up into her apartment to recuperate. That is, until she finds that she's being robbed... and the robber wants his turn. But something in her snaps, and while the robber/2nd rapist is starting his dirty business, she clobbers him in the head with a crystal apple paperweight and then finishes him off with an iron. She drags him into the bathtub and then collapses. All that's pretty much in the first 10 minutes.

The rest of the film follows Thana as she uses the robber's .45 and goes out into the mean streets of New York, taking her anger out on men who use and abuse women. Pimps, cheaters, gangs bangers and swingers are all going down... and she's the Avenging Angel. All the while, she's slowly disposing of the robber's body (that she's cut up into disposable parts and has hidden in the fridge). That's got to do something to a young woman's psyche.

Thana is played by a young and pretty Jeanne Tripplehorn look-a-like named Zoë Tamerlis. She was 17 when she shot this film, and later went on to a writing career, as well as an out-of-the-closet drug habit. She popped up as Harvey Kietel's mistress/dealer in Bad Lieutenant (a film she co-wrote with Ferrara) and died last year of "heart failure" in France at the ripe old age of 35. Here, she does a great job conveying all the angst of a sacred young woman in New York - this isn’t the post-Disney New York, by the way. This is whore-infested, crack-vials-snapping-under-your-feet, rats-gnawing-on-your-babies New York City. A place better viewed on the screen than in your backyard. Ferrara has a talent for making everything he points a camera at look disgusting. It’s not something everyone can do, but he’s good at it. And he does it very well here.

Ms. 45's gritty tone looks even better on DVD. This is a fine looking transfer from the folks over at Image. I’ve been hard on them at times, but the magic they did on this rivals their fantabulous work on the Ed Wood flick Bride of the Monster. I would have NEVER thought this film could looks as it does here, especially with a non-anamorphic picture. It’s got the right amount of grain, the colors are well rendered and the flesh tones are dead-on. Even the mono audio track sounds great. This is an all around nice tribute to the power of the DVD format - making a gritty, independent feature look beautiful on disc. One important note, I don't have the original laserdisc release, but rumor is that this is not the same transfer, and this version contains a few trims. Most notable among them are bits during one of the rapes and the shoot-out at the end. So buyer beware. Although, I have to say that I didn't notice anything wrong, and the film does looks gorgeous.

The extras are on the zippo side though, which sucks a whole lot. Even the menu screens are lacking. There’s no trailer, no commentary - no nuthin’ - and I was a bit disappointed in that respect. But the big kid in me doesn’t give a rat’s ass, because this really kick ass flick is on DVD and the image and sound quality are as kickin’ as the film it’s preserving. So I’m not going to bitch for too long.

Run out and check this flick out. If you don’t... well, beware of nuns in garter belts packing heat. That’s all I’m saying.

Todd Doogan
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