John's Horror Banana-nanza Episode Seventy-Five : The Driller Killer

Oh for God's sakes, Reno! Let her drill the damn hole already!
Oh for God's sakes, Reno! Let her drill the damn hole already!

So if there’s one movie that people tie to the Video Nasties scare of the 1980’s, it’s unquestionably Abel Ferrara’s “Driller Killer”. The iconic poster is a guy getting drilled in the head, and taglines such as “There are those who kill violently”. Well, based on just the title, picture and tagline, you’d think you know what you were in for.

Not quite.

The movie stars Abel Ferrara as Reno, because I guess he thought he’d be the only guy who could pull off playing the main character, and starts off by telling the viewer that the movie should be played loud. I thought volume 34 was loud enough for me, thank you very much.

Reno goes to a church where an old man who looks like Galileo tries to touch him, and Abel makes a federal case about it on the cab ride home with his girlfriend. I’m pretty sure the old guy is Reno's dad, but then the movie just forgets about that scene.

It is established through that scene, however, that Reno hates bums. And there are bums all over Abel’s part of town. We also get to see Abel sleep in the fetal position on the floor. His girlfriend lives with him, and both of them happen to live with her girlfriend as well. It’s a weird setup. So his girlfriend goes on and on about needing money, and Abel, who sells paintings for a living, complains that all they have money for is food and electric. Which, really given his occupation, means he’s making out pretty well for three people.

It’s then that the punk rock band, The Roosters, come to live next door in his building and play the same song all night long, consisting of only one lyric, “Shadoobee.” We get to see a rabbit cooked for dinner, and start wondering just when Reno is going to get his drill out and kill the band. We see him help his indecisive girlfriend drill several holes in the wall, but no one’s dying. What the hell movie is this? There’s no one dead. It just seems like a psychological breakdown of a guy on his last legs!

And then he kills someone. (Finally!)

Unfortunately, we go right back into dialogue consisting of incoherent words and sentences that use the word “fuck” as a noun, verb, and past participle. Abel paints in the dark, for reasons I don’t understand because I’m not an artist, and then we get a gratuitous shower scene with the two live-in girlfriends that makes no sense and has no place anywhere. But hey, at least something’s happening!

Reno eats his dinner of beer, milk, and old sandwich shortly after he doesn’t sell his painting, and his girlfriend gets a letter from her ex with a bunch of money in it, so she leaves. Reno goes on a drilling spree for a short period, then a man offers him $500 for a painting. So Reno kills him. And yet, The Roosters continue to play next door. I think Reno may have some misplaced rage issues.

After attacking his girlfriend’s girlfriend, which just seems like a weird sentence, he goes to her new/old boyfriend’s house and kills him, and then climbs into bed with her. The end.

So I’m not sure what the hell this was all about. It seemed like it had a point, something along the lines of watching a man break down mentally. But the entire situation was hopeless to begin with. Overall, everything about this movie is depressing and angry, but in no way is it offensive or overly violent, especially when compared to other banned movies of the time. I’d recommend this only if you can handle being depressed and kind of bored. It's fatalistic, and hopelessly dark.

Even the trailer's misleading...

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