Undeservedly thrashed by mainstream critics in its initial theatrical run, this stylish urban thriller from quirky director Abel Ferrara has since developed a modest cult following. The late Zoe Tamerlis stars as Thana, a mute seamstress in New York's Garment District who is raped by two different assailants in a single evening -- once on her way home, a second time in her apartment by a sleazy burglar (Peter Yellen). She manages to bludgeon her second attacker to death with an iron, keeping his .45 automatic and disposing of his body one piece at a time in various locations throughout the city. When a bystander tries to apprehend her after watching her dispose of another grisly piece of evidence, she shoots him dead with the automatic. This act of violent release triggers a latent misanthropic impulse in the waifish Thana -- who was not very stable to begin with -- and she begins pumping hot lead into any predatory male she can find. The bloodbath continues unabated until the surreal, Sam Peckinpah-inspired climax, in which our anti-heroine escapes a Halloween party to square off against multiple male foes while wearing a nun's habit and blood-red lipstick. This film could be viewed as a distaff version of Ferrara's Driller Killer; where the director's previous effort was purely nihilistic, with a killer driven by urban decay, here he depicts Thana as a gun-toting agent of revenge who seems to have absorbed the collective anger of wronged women everywhere -- including women exploited in other movies of the same genre.
by Cavett Binion synopsis