This Saturday at 9pm on KUCR 88.3 FM is the 3rd annual Hippie Love Turbo Halloween Special! Be sure to listen over the air on KUCR 88.3FM or through KUCR.org. If you'd like, you can also listen to KUCR through Radio Garden or Tune-In. If you missed the show or want to listen to the tracks again, check out the playlist at the bottom of this post.
During the show I recommended Abel Ferrara's 1981 film Ms. 45 for everyone that's still looking for some trashy films to watch this Halloween. Although the film is set in fall, with the film's climax taking place during a Halloween party, I admit it's a stretch to call Ms. 45 a Halloween film. Regardless, I still think it's worth your time for all of its moody world building and grimy set pieces. If you are familiar with Ferrara's Driller Killer (which I talked about on the episode named Mango) you'll see many similarities between the two films, such as the slums of New York, annoying neighbors, demanding bosses, party scenes, and characters that reach their breaking points and turn towards acts of violence.
|Laurie (portrayed by Darlene Stuto) reads about Ms. 45's crime spree|
In Ms. 45 the protagonist, Thana, is a victim of multiple sexual assaults in one day which causes her to seek revenge against all the perverts in New York City. At first Thana is portrayed as a sort of anti-hero vigilante similar to Paul Kersey in the Death Wish series but as the film continues, we see Thana become more of a mass murderer that preys on men. There are hardly any positive male characters in the film which makes Thana's over the top murders feel justifiable, assuming that the audience understands the nature of exploitation films.
|One of many scenes in Ms. 45 that feature sexual harassment|
Ms. 45 appears to be inspired by several other films, as well as, the real events surrounding serial killer David Berkowitz (aka the .44 Caliber Killer). As previously mentioned, there are similarities to Death Wish but the film's climax is also reminiscent of the 1976 film Carrie. It could be argued that there are elements of Taxi Driver too but, like all good exploitation films, Ms. 45 takes elements from many other films and reduces them down to their visceral core.
|A Driller Killer reference can be spotted during the film's climax|
The film has various runtimes depending on which version you watch, with Thana's rape scenes being reduced in most of the censored versions. In fact, you may find yourself watching an edited copy where the scenes are removed completely which can make the film somewhat confusing. Of course, the rape aspects are the most off-putting part of the film, however, they are not nearly as explicit as other films such as Wes Craven's The Last House on the Left or Meir Zarchi's I Spit on Your Grave. I understand that sexual violence is a no-go for most people, so I only suggest watching the film if you are alright with fictional depictions of that sort of thing. Yes, it is disgusting and crass but that's sort of the nature of these types of films. They make you feel uncomfortable.
|*Saxophone sounds coming from a trumpet*|
The film has several humorous moments, some intentional and some not, but most of the film is a fairly straight forward thriller. Overall, the film feels fast paced and doesn't dwell on anything for too long unlike The Driller Killer. It's a low budget affair that you can watch with buddies and revel in it's over the top violence and, while it's not psychologically or emotionally deep, there are moments that highlight the everyday sexual harassment that women often feel in our country, whether it's cat-callers, creepy bosses, or annoying strangers that portray themselves as "good guys." Hopefully, there will be, or has been, someone that watches the film and walks away thinking about their own actions, recognizing that they should stop acting like a weirdo pervert. One can only hope.
In conclusion, Ms. 45 isn't for everyone but it's definitely worth a watch if you are into late night grindhouse flicks.
|Ms. 45' Halloween party scene|