Saturday, July 12, 2008

Fear the city when Ms. 45 takes on The Driller Killer

A dark open ended alley with a green garbage dumpster half-way through. On the streets on either side of the alley, people wander by en route to their daily lives unaware of the battle that is taking place within the alley between two tormented souls.

On one end of the alley stands Ms. 45 a.k.a Zoë Tamerlis, a shy mute girl. During her day job, Zoë works in a New York fashion office. Her life was changed when one night she was pulled into an alley way and raped. When she got home, an awaiting burglar attempted to rape her again. In self-defense, she managed to kill the burglar. But not knowing what to do with the burglar's body, she cut it up in pieces and went about New York depositing the various pieces in random locations, like in a garbage bin or a train station locker. On one occasion, when she left a body part in a brown bag near the street side, a man ran after her to return the bag. Terrified of the approaching man, Zoë accidently shot him, using the burglar's gun. At first she was horrified of the gun but gradually, she became comfortable in using the gun to dispatch the city of filthy men. She even started dressing provocatively to lure her victims before she shot them.

On the other end of the alley way is The Driller Killer a.k.a Reno Miller, an artist who only wants peace and quiet to finish his commissioned painting. But others around him let have no rest. He is already frustrated when his masterpiece is ridiculed but he truly loses control when a band keeps practicing their loud music in a neighbouring apartment at odd hours of the night. Reno's inner demon takes over and he embarks on a killing spree with a drill.

If the two characters had to face off against each other, it is clear that Zoë would win as she would easily take out Reno long before he ran towards her with his drill. On the other hand, if Zoë were to face off against One Eye (Christina Lindberg from the Swedish film Thriller: a Cruel Picture), Zoë would easily lose as One Eye could take Zoë out with her shotgun. The killing sequences at the end of Thriller:A Cruel Picture and Ms. 45 are quite similar as both women go around killing a crowd of people in slow-motion, and every scream is amplified. Since the Swedish film came out in 1974, 7 years before Ms. 45 was released, it is possible that the character One Eye had an indirect hand in the birth of Ms. 45.

Abel Ferrara made his feature directorial debut in 1979 with The Driller Killer and followed that in 1981 with Ms. 45. Even though the titular characters in both films start their killing sprees via different circumstances, they eventually start enjoying their murders. The random nature of their murders create fear in the city, so it is not a surprise that Ferrara's third feature in 1984 was titled Fear City where a man believes he is cleaning the city by targeting prostitutes as his victims. In his attempts to kill the prostitutes, the murderer in Fear City follows similar motives with the characters of Ms. 45 and The Driller Killer in that all three believe they are doing the city good by killing unwanted people. Ms. 45 starts off by only killing men, especially those that she thinks prey on women while The Driller Killer starts off by killing homeless people. Eventually both of them start killing anyone that gets in their way but at the beginning they only target a certain section of the city.

Note: In The Driller Killer Ferrara plays the title character while in Ms. 45 he is the rapist that alters Zoë's life.
Ratings out of 10:
  • The Driller Killer (1979, USA, Abel Ferrara): 4.5

  • Ms. 45 (1981, USA, Abel Ferrara): 5

  • Fear City (1984, USA, Abel Ferrara): 5

  • Thriller a cruel picture (1974, Sweden, Bo Arne Vibenius): 6
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