Ms. 45 (1981) Dir. Abel Ferrara

Fuck Valentine’s Day

There’s no such thing as a Valentine’s Day protest… until now

N is a poet. R is a screenwriter. We watch a lot of movies. We also spend a lot of time talking about movies. But we don’t spend enough time writing about them. So we’ve created Double Shot to reflect on the latest movies we’ve seen in our respective mediums, every other Monday from now until the end of time.

This week we’re hating on Valentine’s Day by watching Abel Ferrara’s cult exploitation film Ms. 45.


R: One of the best things about having people over for Valentine’s Day was showing everybody Ms. 45. I was worried it was going to be too much for a party but it turned out to be a pretty great movie to watch when you’re looking for an alternative to dumb romantic comedies.

N: It worked really well watching it on mute also. You could still watch it and understand it, partially because Thana, the main character, is mute, so the film is silent, and also because it’s just a well done movie.

R: That was a sign to me that this was more than just a good movie. It’s a piece of great filmmaking made on a tiny budget but with a big impact. There’s a lot to learn about filmmaking here if anyone’s interested in that kind of thing.

N: I feel like I can’t talk about this movie without talking about how I found out about it. On the day Alamo Drafthouse released it, two separate people told me it was the perfect movie for me.

R: This movie does perfectly capture your “bad ass lady” vibe.


By now, we all know that Valentine’s Day sucks because it’s a capitalist perversion of the abstract idea of love and can only be expressed through materialistic things like chocolate, roses, and jewelry (all the products of terrible human rights abuses by the way).

But for too long, the only options have been to partake or abstain from the holiday. There’s no such thing as a Valentine’s Day protest… until now.

Rather than giving in to the hegemony of Valentine’s Day, we can actively rebel against its unrealistic depiction of the relationship between men and women by watching a film that explores the darker side of our humanity: a gritty and unexpectedly feminist exploitation film called Ms. 45.

Ms. 45 is about Thana, a young unassuming mute woman, trying to get by in New York City. But this isn’t the NYC of Maid in Manhattan: her walk home is littered with street harassers saying all kinds of vulgar things to her. And instead of having a meet-cute with a handsome man, she’s raped by a masked maniac. Then she gets home, beaten and traumatized, only to be raped again by a burglar waiting for her. She kills him, steals his pistol, chops his body up and stashes it in the fridge. It is about as far away from a sappy romantic comedy as you’re ever gonna get, and that makes it even more powerful.

In your typical V-Day-approved romantic comedy, the female lead realizes her dreams with the help of her new romantic partner. In Ms. 45, Thana doesn’t need anyone’s help to realize her goal: to kill every misogynist in New York City.

This has all the makings for a classic revenge fantasy, but the tagline “It will never happen again” has more depth than meets the eye. At first her attacks are on obvious targets: pimps, gang members, pervy fashion photographers. But once we hit the climax, “it” loses its definition and Thana’s targets become indiscriminate. She is no longer judge, jury, and executioner of the patriarchy. Now she is only an executioner, gunning down every man in front of her.

When the film ends with the undeniable phallic image of a woman holding a knife, it’s with the realization that the “perfect revenge” is just as unrealistic as the “perfect love story.” And while that won’t do anything to put an end to unrealistic positivity of V-Day, the least we can do is balance it out with a bit of blood and violence.

R.


Thana .45

lips red
 quiet
lightning
in my lungs
I speak with
fingers
forming shapes
stitching pants
for fathers
who will spill
onto fabric
it will never
happen again

I have never felt
so much flesh
I am filled
with sand, heavy
dissection in utero
you misheard
my silence as words
snake hair
whips your neck
flailing limbs
in the freezer
I save the
head for last
it will never
happen again

a girl walks home
alone at night
but I am a woman
in the alleys
I find them
pant bulge
takes shape
I dreamt of this:
I am yelling
at you with
heavy weight
in my hand
your skull
is soft
on the pavement
it will never
happen again

bullet hole
whole body
I can’t look
at my skin,
residue
wavers here,
the knife
still had cake
on it
it will never
happen again

N.


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