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Ms. 45

By Sean Axmaker

Abel Ferrara, the bad boy of American independent filmmaking, made his first splash with this violent twist on Death Wish and the revenge-vigilante genre. Nastassja Kinski look-alike ZoŽ Tamerlis Lund stars as a beautiful mute seamstress in New York's garment district, a shrinking violet who is brutally raped and assaulted not once but twice in the same day. After dispatching the second predator in an adrenaline-driven rush of panic, she pockets his handgun and disposes of the body in small chunks. Tamerlis makes the most of her wordless role, her wide-eyed vulnerability hardening to a dead-eyed determination as she transforms from quivering victim to avenging dark angel, a one-woman vigilante force hunting pimps, perverts, sickos, and slimeballs and using herself as bait. Consider this Ferrara's Taxi Driver, a very different portrait of New York's mean streets. Though this shot-on-the-cheap production occasionally suffers from amateurish performances in supporting roles, Ferrara's impeccable eye for composition and bravura sense of editing create momentum that carries it through to its memorable Halloween party finale. Tamerlis is decked out in a nun's habit with a slash of lipstick across her face, a handgun tucked in a garter, and a contract out on the entire male sex. It's a deliriously effective exploitation thriller that undercuts every expectation of the genre. Ferrara makes a cameo as the first attacker. Tamerlis later cowrote and costarred in Ferrara's most notorious production, Bad Lieutenant.

 

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FILM FACTS

VHS unavailableBuy this DVD from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Soundtrack unavailable at Amazon.com - try eBay (see links below)Rated UNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Abel Ferrara

Stars: Zoe Tamerlis, Steve Singer, Jack Thibeau, Peter Yellen, Darlene Stuto

Released: April 24, 1981

Availability: DVD


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