The Driller Killer  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Driller Killer is a 1979 horror/black comedy film directed by and starring Abel Ferrara, Carolyn Marz, Baybi Day, and Harry Schultz. The plot concerns Reno Miller, a struggling artist in New York City, turning insane from stress and killing derelicts with a power drill.

The film was infamous for being on the list of "video nasties" in the United Kingdom, resulting the film banned from 1984 (due to new censorship laws) until 1999, when a cut version was approved for an 18 (years of age) certificate. The full uncut version was finally passed by the BBFC in November 2002. On 10 June 2010 it was re-released as video on demand (VOD).

Plot

Artist Reno Miller (Abel Ferrara) and his girlfriend Carol enter a Catholic church, where he approaches an elderly bearded man (revealed as a derelict) kneeling at the pulpit. The derelict seizes Reno's hand, causing him and Carol to flee from the church, unknown to him that the derelict contained a paper with Reno's information and requested a meeting with him.

Later, at his apartment, Reno receives a large phone bill and cannot pay his rent. He shares with Carol and her lover Pamela, in a derelict-filled neighbourhood in Union Square. Reno visits Dalton, a gallery owner, and tells him that he is currently painting a masterpiece. Reno asks for a week’s extension and a loan of $500 to cover the rent, however Dalton refuses, saying that he already lent enough money to Reno. However, if he finishes a satisfactory painting in one week Dalton will buy it for the necessary amount.

The following day, a No Wave band entitled the Roosters begin practising their music in a nearby apartment, in which the music makes Reno unnerved and frustrated. At 2:00 in the morning, Reno becomes more agitated from the Roosters' music while painting. After seeing his own image saturated in blood, Reno walks in the dark. He sees an elderly derelict sleeping in a garbage-strewn alley, where he takes him down an alley where gang members are seen chasing another bum. Reno drops the bum and vows that he will not end up like a derelict.

The next day, Reno complains about the Roosters to their landlord. However, the landlord refuses to act because the music does not bother him. He gives Reno a skinned rabbit for dinner, but instead demands the rent money. Reno takes the rabbit home and repeatedly stabs it while preparing it. During a brief reprieve from the music, Reno mentally hears voices calling his name and sees an image of an eyeless Carol. That night, Reno leaves outside and armed with a power drill. He discovers another derelict inside an abandoned diner and brutally kills him. The following evening, Reno, Carol, and Pamela see Tony Coca-Cola and the Roosters at a nightclub. As the Roosters play, Reno becomes irritated by the music and crowd and leaves while Carol and Pamela dance and kiss.

[[File:Driller Killer Over-the-Shoulder Shot.png|thumb|left|225px|An over-the-shoulder shot from the murderer's perspective as Reno approaches Dalton to kill him with the drill.]]

Reno returns to his apartment, grabs his drill and goes out on a killing spree. Throughout the night, he then kills a number of bums before returning home to sleep. Later, Tony visits Reno’s apartment and asks Reno to paint him, in which Tony agrees to pose for his $500 rent bill. As Reno paints, Tony poses by playing his guitar and kissing Pamela. A derelict in a nearby alley (upset by the noise) is attacked and killed by Reno. Afterwards, Reno completes his painting, where he then wakes and notifies Pamela and Carol.

Reno and Carol show the painting to Dalton who leaves after declaring it “unacceptable” and Carol yells at Reno for sitting with a blank expression, resulting her leaving Reno for her ex-husband Stephen by the next morning. That evening, Reno calls Dalton and invites him to see another painting. When Dalton arrives as the Roosters are practising, a dressed Reno kills him with his drill. After visiting the Roosters, Pamela returns upon the discovery of Dalton’s body inside, causing her to flee before Reno grabs her.

Across town, Carol is back with Stephen. She takes a shower while Stephen prepares tea. Reno enters, kills Stephen, and then hides his body behind a counter. Carol, exiting from her shower, walks to the bedroom where Reno hides under the bed covers. She turns off the lights, gets into bed, and tells Stephen to "come here"; Carol's ultimate fate is left unknown.

Cast

  • Abel Ferrara (credited as Jimmy Laine) – Reno Miller
  • Carolyn Marz – Carol
  • Baybi Day – Pamela
  • Harry Schultz II – Dalton Briggs
  • Alan Wynroth – Landlord
  • Maria Helhoski – Nun
  • James O'Hara – Man in church
  • Richard Howorth – Carol's husband
  • D.A. Metrov (credited as Rhodney Montreal) – Tony Coca-Cola

Ferrara claims that Bruce Willis appeared in the film.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Driller Killer" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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