'Ms. 45' was originally released in 1982, to mostly negative press and a limited theatrical release. It's not difficult to understand the initial poor reception. That would be due to the subject matter; the rape-revenge genre is an unpleasant one, prone to queasy exploitation and downright societal ugliness. In films like 'I Spit On Your Grave' any revenge element seems muted by the long protracted assault scene, which seems less a plot point than a leering pandering to base instincts.
Sexual assault should be treated in film as the traumatic, terrifying, gut-wrenching thing that it is, and in that respect 'Ms. 45' (aka 'Angel Of Vengeance') gets it, and to its credit, doesn't wallow in it. The scenes are short yet disturbingly effective.
The plot concerns teenage Thana, a mute seamstress who is assaulted not once, but twice in one day, by two different and unrelated male assailants. Unable to articulate her feelings and reach out for support, she internalizes her abuse and decides there's only thing that can satiate her pain; revenge.
But unlike 'Grave' or 'Death Wish' or so many other revenge movies, 'Ms. 45' goes further. Most revenge films are about the victim exacting revenge on those who wronged them. And then the credits roll.
But Thana isn't so clear cut. She decides to take out her anger on the entire male gender. She perceives all men as a threat.
And in the gritty, scuzzy environment that was 1980's New York City, it's hard not to sympathize with her.
Director Abel Ferrara's minimalist tone is ugly yet effective. And actress Zoe Lund is haunting as Thana, a wide-eyed innocent turned into a bleak killing machine.
The Blu-ray is as crisp a transfer of grainy 80's 16mm film as possible. Joe Delila's sleazy disco score is pronounced and oozes bleak decadence.
Bonus features include a 32 page booklet, interview with Delila and Ferrara, and several short films about Lund, who died tragically of a drug overdose in the late 90's.
'Ms. 45' is unrated and runs 81 minutes.