Director/Auteur Abel Ferrara’s (The Driller Killer 1979, King of New York 1990, Bad Lieutenant 1992, Body Snatchers 1993, The Addiction 1995, The Funeral 1996) distressing cult classic ushering in the 80s–a gritty-elegant rape-revenge masterpiece, a brutal ballet starring Zoë Lund (she was 19 years old at the time she played Thana and died tragically at age 37 from heroin-related heart failure) as a young mute seamstress working in the garment district of New York City who survives two assaults in one day inevitably sending her into a mental tailspin, and goes on a mission of retribution by way of subterfuge. An avatar of vengeance striking back at patriarchal oppression and exploitation of women. Dressing as a purposefully seductive decoy Thana prowls the night streets of the city luring her prey in order to take back the power that had been ripped away from her, drawing out any low-life male predators with her sweet weapon of annihilation –her 45 caliber canon.
From Reverence to Rape:The Treatment of Women in Movies by Molly Haskell– “In this, the most significant development of the eighties, movies have served up an endlessly expanding category of neurotics , murderers , femme fatales, vamps, punks, misfits, and free-floating loonies whose very existence was an affront, not only to the old, sexist definitions of pliant women (or even categorizable psychotics), but also to the upbeat rhetoric of the women’s movement. The violence unleased ranged from the homicidal (the women shoppers in Marleen Gorris’s A Question of Silence: the rape victim turned murderer in Ms. 45; Martha Henry as the worm-turned husband-killer in the Canadian film Dancing in the Dark; Chantal Akerman’s powerful study of housewifely anomie, Jeanne Dielman; and Theresa Russell’s greedy disposer-of-men in Black Widow…”
For further interesting reading on the Rape-Revenge formula read Carol J. Clover’s Men*Women* and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film.