Ms .45

Ms .45 ★★★★½

Where to even begin here? Revisiting this, I'm totally astonished at how much is packed in here and how often this is still regarded as "great" genre-schlock exploitation, but it never feels like an exploitation picture, it's only a means to an end. This is so loaded to the brim with ideas (even more impressive considering that it comes after the almost animalistic Driller Killer) and so tightly condensed, yet I think it's virtually impossible to miss all the films key points.

As Thana's landlord says - "you look like a phantom!" Two consecutive sexual assaults begin a process of de-personalization and de-humanization which Thana flips into the de-humanization of the men around her as a coping mechanism. Kitchen utensils are used to chop up body parts, a bathtub as a cutting board, fridge as storage. Thana was only able to kill one of her attackers, and is haunted forever by visions of the one that got away. She changes herself over, both clothing and personality, from shy garment worker to dominatrix, and finally to a nun, killing every man in sight. She starts to resemble Ophuls' Lola Montes, or a Dietrich character out of Sternberg, who consents to being the object of gaze, only to assert themselves as subject - but this time, this assertion comes through the literal annihilation of "the other." Through this, the psychological desire for sex is replaced with a desire for death. And why not? Because of her circumstances, Thana is dead inside. She has no choice - she is a victim that is coping with the horror of her reality.

As though the landlord's "phantom", Thana comes in and out of dark shadows and crevasses, retaliating against all conditions of misogyny and more - exploitation at large. The pivot from dominatrix to nun makes sense - she becomes a sort of vengeful nun - the angel of death, shooting back at the conditions of patriarchal civilization. Also important that we see Thana's work life - that she and her (all female) colleagues are overworked and underpaid, that her boss treats her condescendingly before trying to exploit their specifically boss-employee relationship for a sexual liason (it's very key that his death is the last premeditated murder in the film) - but also that the men catcalling women on the street expect the same kind of deference, that of an employee. Moreover, the conditions of which we see male flirting - almost all of these guys end up dead anyways - but that a response is always expected with a overture. Those are not the conditions of a romantic or sexual relationship, but that of slavery.

Probably a masterpiece, and Ferrara's only imperfection was that his work has always been ahead of its time.

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