You know the old saying, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” I wonder if that was what director Abel Ferrara was thinking with this movie. Not only did he direct it, but he also played the lead role. Yet another hidden gem from the Chilling Classics collection, today I am watching The Driller Killer.
The plot: Reno is a struggling artist living in New York with his girlfriend Carol and her lover Pamela. The pressure of trying to pay his rent, dealing with the loud music from the band across the way, and the violence of the city itself all serve to steadily drive him insane. He winds up using a portable battery pack and a power drill to go on a killing spree. When he finishes his painting that he plans to sell, the dealer refuses to buy it, claiming it is unacceptable. The next morning, Carol leaves Reno to go back to her ex-husband. Later that night, Reno calls the dealer back to look at another painting, but actually lured him there to kill him. He then heads over to Carol’s ex-husband’s house where he kills the ex-husband and then waits in the bed for Carol.
Every country has it’s own standards for what is consider acceptable. When this movie was released in the US, there were no problems regarding it’s R rating. However, in the UK, there was quite a bit of controversy revolving around the tagline and the cover of the video. It would wind up being placed on the banned list of movies in the UK and would not be released there until an edited version was made in 1999. As far as the critics were concerned, they were rather positive towards it, as it earned a 70% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
I admit that I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. I honestly thought it was going to be a generic slasher film where the killer uses a drill as a weapon. Instead i got a rather dark movie, that showed the dark aspects of New York City brought to the forefront in Reno’s madness. Abel Ferrara did an excellent job going from somewhat normal, to manic, to psychotic and back again. The cut aways from the main plot to the events in New York, primarily focusing on the homeless and acts of violence, only show more of the influences to Reno’s madness. Honestly, the whole tone of the movie was dark and loud, which just mirrored Reno’s moods. All in all, this was not a bad horror movie.
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5