The Horror Honeys: It's No Longer a Man's World...

It's No Longer a Man's World...

A Revenge Honey Women in Horror Month Classics Review by Linnie

Ms. 45 (1981)


One of NYC's 40,000 prostitutes getting arrested by the so-called "Pimp Squad," picture courtesy of the NCJRS

New York City in 1981 was a miserable, crime-infested hellhole. On record as one of the most violent years in the city's history, prostitutes outnumbered cops 2 to 1, and between '80 and '81, there were almost 5,000 murders and over 10,000 rapes (reported). Films like Taxi Driver and Escape from New York reflected the misery running rampant on the streets and the fear that NYC was descending into a dystopian hell that it could never dig its way out of. But no one film more accurately represents the worst of Manhattan from a female perspective than Abel Ferrara's Ms. 45. Starring Zoë Lund in a mostly silent role, Ms. 45 is an elegant, simple, and terrifying revenge film, that holds up in a way many others don't.

The Story: Thana is a mute seamstress working for an upscale fashion house in Manhattan. Despite her shyness and inability to speak, the women she works with look after her, and her life seems lonely, but entirely average... Until everything changes one horrifyingly eventful day as Thana walks home from work. Raped first by a man on the street with a gun, and then AGAIN when she returns home to find a burglar in her apartment, Thana is driven to absolute madness by the horror she has endured. With a new-found sense of power and a .45 she took off her second attacker, Thana takes to the streets to stop one more women from being victimized at the hands of a man.

Without context, it might seem entirely unrealistic that the same woman could be brutally raped twice in the same day, but the sad truth is, it wasn't out of the realm of possibility for a young lady living alone in Manhattan in '81. It doesn't help that when we first meet Thana, she looks as pale and innocent as Snow White. Without the ability to scream for help or even beg for mercy, she is essentially the perfect victim. But it is when Thana kills her second attacker with a glass red apple decoration in her apartment, that we first see her transition from Snow White to Lady Vengeance. Bit by bit, we watch Thana find her inner strength, throw of her cloak of victimhood, and become Ms. 45.

The entirety of Ms. 45 rests on Lund's performance and she is, without question, perfection. Because she can't speak, her entire performance in conveyed through her facial expression, and her beautiful doe eyes. In the scenes of her attack, the fear and pain on her face is palpable and your heart breaks for her. But later, when she begins her mission of revenge, you can watch each change in her demeanor, from innocent rose, to seductress, to outright femme fatale. No man who would dare hurt a woman is safe, and you can see the determination sparkle in her eyes. No one but Zoë Lund could have played Thana, because no other actress could have so gracefully transitioned personalities without a single word.

And Ms. 45 is so much more than your standard "rape revenge" film. From beginning to end, it is full of statements about crime, power, and whether or not men as a gender should be held responsible for the failings of a few. Thana begins her vigilantism focusing on only men that victimize, but in the end, in one of the most iconic scenes in revenge film history, she chooses to turn her gun on any man in her eye line. While dressed as a nun at a Halloween party, one by one, she shoots every man there, making them pay for what she now considers the crime of masculinity. Yet in the end, in a moment loaded with symbolism, Thana is stabbed in the back by one of her female friends, ending her reign of holy terror. It is a moment that will shock even the most hardened horror fans, as Thana whispers her first word in the entire film...


While other revenge films, like I Spit On Your Grave and The Last House on the Left, may be more common parts of the film vernacular, Ms. 45 has always been one of my two favorites. It's beautifully directed by Ferrara, amazingly acted by Lund, and so few other movies from the era hold up in the same visceral way. I have never, and will never, stopped being moved by it. If you haven't seen Ms. 45 yet, Alamo Drafthouse has put out an amazing blu-ray version, so there is no better time to add it to your collection.

Revenge Honey Rating ~ 5 heads in a fridge out of 5

Ms. 45 is available on Amazon Instant Video, YouTube, Google Play, & blu-ray/DVD