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Sudden Death (1985)

A New York City career woman becomes a vigilante after being raped by two car thieves.


Sig Shore


Sig Shore


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Denise Coward ... Valarie Wells
Frank Runyeon ... Detective Marty Lowery
Jaime Tirelli ... Willie
Robert Trumbull Robert Trumbull ... Herbert
Rebecca Hollen Rebecca Hollen ... Peggy
J. Kenneth Campbell ... Kosakowski
Joe Maruzzo ... Raphael
Arnie Mazer Arnie Mazer ... Sailor
Gary Majchrazak Gary Majchrazak ... Reggie
Tony Jaffe Tony Jaffe ... Van Driver
Doug McCoy Doug McCoy ... Cooch Elliot
Steve Wise Steve Wise ... Bruce Ryan
Laura Gardner ... Detective Carter
Mischa Bogin Mischa Bogin ... Hot Dog Vendor
Timothy Roselle Timothy Roselle ... Gun Salesman (as Tim Roselle)


Valarie is a happy, successful career woman, engaged to a charming and handsome man. She drives a great car and lives in a beautiful apartment. Then one night she hails the wrong taxi. She is brutally raped by the two car thieves who were taking a joyride. They leave her on the sidewalk to die after they're done with her. When she recovers, her fiancée abandons her, and with the police unable to help much in tracking down her attackers, Valarie buys a gun and takes to the gritty streets after dark, luring and killing street thugs who accosted her while searching for the two thugs to get her revenge. She becomes known in the press as the 'Dum-Dum Killer' because of the hollow-point bullets she pattens out and uses. At the same time, she begins dating a sympathetic police detective, named Marty, who takes an interest in her rape case, while tracking down the 'Dum-Dum Killer', and when he begins to suspect her, he is torn between upholding the law and protecting his newest love interest. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


There Is No Place-No Time When A Woman Alone Can Be Safe! See more »


Action | Thriller


R | See all certifications »






Release Date:

13 September 1985 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dirty Harriet See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Lodestar Productions See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Valarie Wells: Can I see a Walter P32?
[is shown one]
Valarie Wells: Just like the one my father gave me for my 14th birthday.
Gun Salesman: That's an unusual present to give a 14 year old.
Valarie Wells: We were at the military post.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The UK Vestron video (released as "Dirty Harriet") was cut by 2 mins 32 secs by the BBFC with heavy edits to rape scenes, a woman being choked, and a man slashing a woman's shoulder with a razor. See more »


Referenced in Remote Control (1988) See more »


Written by Bernard Sumner (uncredited), Stephen Morris (uncredited), Peter Hook (uncredited), Gillian Gilbert (uncredited) and Arthur Baker (uncredited)
Performed by New Order
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Hey look, it's Charlene Bronson!
29 March 2016 | by CoventrySee all my reviews

Personally, I like it a lot when filmmakers (or their marketers…) include witty and tongue-in-cheek references towards other films in their own tag line, script or dialogs. There's one small but logical condition, though, and that is that the witty reference has to make sense and hints at a suitable title! The mastermind marketers behind this "Sudden Death" clearly weren't so smart… The tag line juicily states "don't mess with this Dirty Harriet!" which obviously refers to Clint Eastwood's character and milestone thriller classic "Dirty Harry", but he was a cop! Admittedly an unorthodox and trigger-happy cop, but a cop that is still on the right side of the law. Lead actress Denise Coward – what a terrible choice of artist name, by the way – depicts a traumatized victim of an unsolved crime who turns into a violent vigilante, so instead they could easily have referred to "Death Wish" by nicknaming the character Paula Kersey or – ha! - Charlene Bronson.

Right… apart from this pretty pointless intro rant, I actually haven't got much to say about this "Sudden Death". It's a very derivative, unmemorable and insipid vigilante thriller, like there were far too many of them during the first half of the eighties. It's not even remarkable that the avenging angel is a woman, since there is also Abel Ferrara's phenomenal "Ms. 45". Former miss Australia Denise Coward stars as a hard-working career woman who takes a taxi late one night in order to join her fiancé at a restaurant. Little does she know that the cab was just carjacked by a duo of sneering thugs that promptly rape the poor girl and leave her behind beaten half dead. During a slow recovery at the hospital, her fiancé encourages her to "forget" what happened while the tender macho copper Lowery informs her that the case most likely won't be solved. So what's a poor & frustrated girl to? She buys a Walther- 32, prepares a whole set of dumdum bullets and goes out to roam the streets in search of pervert, rapist pigs. She doesn't have to search very hard or long, although admittedly she poses a bit too flamboyantly as a prostitute to lure her victims. In spite of the vile subject matter, "Sudden Death" is intolerably tedious and slow- paced. The film literally drags itself from one violent execution sequence to the next with only dullness and irritating synthesizer music in between.

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