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Applaud two rarely seen films on DVD: The Visitor and Ms. 45. Find out why

Nero as a Jesus lookalike
Nero as a Jesus lookalike
Author's collection

Drafthouse Films, in conjunction with Cinedigm will bring two of its recent theatrical success stories to Blu-ray and DVD in restored and remastered editions: the wildly ambitious and neglected sci-fi/horror epic The Visitor and Ms. 45, legendary director Abel Ferrara's gritty, gore-filled New York revenge thriller. The films will arrive, respectively, on March 4 and on March 25, packed with thrilled, chills and oodles of bonus material.
We were lucky enough to visit this gem. To visit again? Yep, we can take it.
Incredibly ambitious but derided and largely neglected upon its initial release in 1979, The Visitor is an unforgettable assault on reality, a phantasmagoric sci-fi/horror/action hybrid. From writer-producer Ovidio G. Assonitis and director/actor/body builder Michael J. Paradise,the film artfully fuses elements of some of the biggest blockbusters of the time (The Omen, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Fury, Star Wars, The Birds) and features a fittingly unique cast that includes Shelley Winters, Glenn Ford, Lance Henriksen, Franco Nero, Mel Ferrer, Sam Peckinpah and, in the leading role, legendary director-actor John Huston.
Huston plays an intergalactic warrior who joins a cosmic Christ figure in battle against a demonic 8-year-old girl and her pet hawk, while the fate of the universe hangs in the balance. Multidimensional warfare, pre-adolescent profanity and brutal avian attacks combine to transport the viewer to a state unlike anything they've experienced---somewhere between hell, the darkest reaches of outer space and Atlanta.
The result is an entertainingly hallucinatory and inscrutable mash-up that repertory cinema programmers around the country have rediscovered for late-night bookings. Our Village Voice pal dubbed The Visitor "ridiculously entertaining . . . the schizophrenic mother of all '70s drive-in oddities."
Special features on The Visitor include:
* Interviews with star Lance Henriksen, screenwriter Lou Comici and cinematographer Ennio Guarnieri
* Theatrical trailer
* 16-page booklet
* Digital download

The next must-see flick comes from director Abel Ferrara. Ms. 45 was originally released in 1981 and quickly became a notorious cult favorite, an eye-opening study of a seamy, sticky, pre-Disneyfication New York City. But it had remained hard to find in the years since, until Drafthouse remastered the uncut film in HD from the original negative materials and booked it in theaters. The film follows a mute Garment District seamstress---played by the late model/actress/musician/screenwriter Zoë Lund (then known, at age 18, as Zoë Tamerlis)---who, after falling victim to multiple unspeakable rapes, unleashes a one-woman homicidal rampage against Gotham's male population.
This fiercely independent auteur feature (originally rated X) was instantly regarded as a uniquely feminist entry in the urban revenge subgenre. In Brad Stevens' biography Abel Ferrara: The Moral Vision, Ferrara recalls of the film, "It shook people up to see an innocent person like themselves suddenly becoming a wanton murderer." Combining the rampaging angst of Death Wish and Roman Polanski's surreal post-traumatic shocker Repulsion, Ms. 45 returns from the cult underground over 30 years later to reclaim its title as perhaps the most shocking, complex and empowering vigilante film of the 1980s.
Special Features on Ms. 45 include:
* Interviews with director Abel Ferrara, composer Joe Delia, creative consultant Jack McIntyre
* Zoë XO and Zoë Rising, two short films on star Zoë Lund by American Hardcore director Paul Rachman
* Theatrical trailer
* 32-page booklet featuring essays by Zoë Lund, Ferrara biographer Brad Stevens and House of Psychotic Women author Kier-la Janisse
* Digital download
Do I hear an amen?

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