An artist slowly goes insane while struggling to pay his bills, work on his paintings, and care for his two female roommates, which leads him taking to the streets of New York after dark and randomly killing derelicts with a power drill.
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Reno is an artist struggling to survive in NYC. He draws inspiration from scenes of daily street life and occasional random violence. Under pressure to finish his oft-delayed grand masterpiece, his psychotic alter-ego takes over and he begins killing random vagrants to boost his creativity, not quite realizing that it is happening in reality. When an art dealer grimly rejects Reno's finished masterpiece, Reno's mental condition quickly deteriorates. Written by
When the Driller Killer drills into a homeless man's head, he does not drill far enough to cause death, as evidenced by the depth of blood on the drill-bit. See more »
[Reno opens an envelope for the Con-Ed energy bill]
Holy Christ! What is this? They send us the bill to Madison Square Garden? What are they kidding me, man? How the hell are we supposed to pay this bill? What is this? The bill for three months?
That's the bill for one month.
Christ, what have we got here? A refrigerator, a couple of lights?
[opens another envelope]
Let's see here, telephone. Oh no! Houston, Texas?
Look at this, L.A. $1.50... $2.75... $7.50, man.
Yeah, they're mine.
[...] See more »
Movie opens with message "THIS FILM SHOULD BE PLAYED LOUD." See more »
The thin line between trash-exploitation and art-house cinema
Despite of its reputation and the repulsive sounding title, Abel Ferrara's The Driller Killer is more of a social drama about life in the big city than it is a horror shocker. Ferrara himself stars as Reno, an unbalanced painter slowly going crazy due to financial troubles, the noisy punk-band next door, demanding employers and housemates, and non-stop images of the pauperized city. He buys a tool and unleashes his fury on the numerous homeless in the area. Driller Killer is truly grim and as much shocking as the classic film it's clearly inspired on (namely: Taxi Driver) but it lacks a fitting tone and a appropriate background drawing. The film opens with a very confusing sequence in which the protagonist is standing at an altar while being approached by an elderly man. This footage is extra since the 1999 re-release and it looks like Ferrara wanted to supply his film with some kind of spiritual depth. It leads nowhere, though. In fact, take out the killings and you're left with a somewhat boring urban portrait. Driller Killer was included in the infamous list of 'video-nasties' and therefore automatically received a controversial cult-status without people even seeing it. Although the substance matter doesn't belong amongst the other titles in the list, The Driller Killer often wanders on the thin border between trash-exploitation and art-house cinema, as it features voyeuristic elements (a gratuitous lesbian shower sequence) as well as sheer close-ups of blood-puddles and whirring drills.
Abel Ferrara without a doubt is one of the most remarkable directors in American cinema history. I'm a huge fan of most of his films like 'The Addiction', 'Bad Lieutenant' and 'The Funeral' It's not that I didn't like 'the Driller Killer', I just think that the poor production values really show off and that Ferrara did not yet had the professionalism and talent to make up for it by adding the trademarks that made his later films so brilliant. If you're interested by the repertoire of this often discussed director, you better don't start by watching Driller Killer. You're appreciate it a lot more after seeing some of his 90's films.
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