Schlocktoberfest V – Day 16: The Driller Killer

Schlocktoberfest5b

 

THE DRILLER KILLER (1979)

Trailer:

*Spoilers Throughout*

Driller Killer banned VHS coverWhat’s It About: Poor starving artist Reno is having trouble finishing his latest masterpieceofshit so he goes insane because of the pressure and the homeless and the punk band next door.

Here are some of my observations as I watched the film:

  • Director, screenwriter, and star (another triple threat!) Abel Ferrara looks like Peter Criss without makeup and with malaria. 
  • So far it’s just been the lead, Reno, complaining about New York’s homeless. I’m guessing he kills a few of them later? Possibly with some kind of power tool?
By the way, this card is at the beginning of the film, because the sound mix is total shit.

By the way, this card is at the beginning of the film, because the sound mix is total shit.

  • Reno’s sister or girlfriend or roommate or all three asks him to drill a hole in a door for 5 minutes. It’s the loudest fucking drill in town and as a result would make the worst murder weapon in the county. 
  • Reno has anger issues. He throws a pot through a window because they get a high phone bill. Speaking of which, this movie looks like it was shot on the world’s first cell phone that had a rat turd for a memory card. 
  • Reno is a painter and his paintings are so dumb he makes Thomas Kinkade look like… any painter who’s not Thomas Kinkade
  • A band named The Roosters is moving in next to Reno. What a bunch of cocks. 
  • Reno is trying to finish a painting of a buffalo and it’s uglier than buffalo shit smeared on a walrus’s dick cheese. 
  • Seems to me that Reno’s wasting time painting buffaloes when he could be painting nudes of the two chicks he lives with. 
  • Porto-Pak™! For all your drilling and/or killing electricity needs. There’s your quick and stupid explanation of how Reno powers his killing drill on the go. Missed opportunity for some brilliant comedy though, because it would be hilarious if every time Reno wanted to murder a homeless guy he had to desperately search for an outlet to plug his drill into. 
Due to a warehouse mix-up, Reno was accidentally sent a Proton Pak, which would be a much more awesome murder weapon.

Due to a warehouse mix-up, Reno was accidentally sent a Proton Pak, which would be a much more awesome murder weapon.

  • The Roosters are practicing a song with the Spy Hunter theme as the music. And you know what? It’s fucking rad. They kind of sound like Television if every member of Television had brain worms. 
  • Unexpected lesbian shower scene! Semi-puffy nipples. I think Abel Ferrara included that random scene to wake the audience up. 
  • 1/3 of the way through and kill count = 0. Drill count = 1
  • So the landlord gives Reno a skinned rabbit as a gift. Reno takes it back to his place to gut it and starts stabbing it in the head. I guess that means he’s a killer now because that fucking band is too loud and won’t let him finish his hideously bad painting. 
  • My daughter used to bring home better looking pieces of art from preschool. When I asked her what it was, she said, “Daddy, that’s not a painting, I shit my pants.”
This painting is so terrible that Bob Marley wrote a song urging soldiers to go destroy it.

This painting is so terrible that Bob Marley wrote a song urging soldiers to go destroy it.

  • Reno is hallucinating his roommate has gouged-out eyeballs. Then we finally get our first drill kill when he guts a homeless for no real reason other than the fact that he foreshadowed it earlier by complaining about homeless.
  • Most of these scenes seem like rehearsals but Abel Ferrara realized he only had 15 seconds worth of film each shoot so he said fuck it. Which is doubly weird because the majority of these scenes are completely unnecessary. 
  • Reno and the girls go to a Roosters concert even though he fucking hates them, and rudely leaves during their set to drill kill more homeless, which is a lot more boring than it sounds.
  • Did he wear the Porto-Pak™ and the drill to the concert?? 
  • I don’t think Abel Ferrara intended Reno running up to homeless and drilling them to be hysterical but it sure as shit is.  
  • I live near New York City, so I know for a fact that it’s a heavy populated and busy place, you’re telling me NO ONE heard homeless screams or saw Reno running around with his fucking drill?
NO ONE SEES OR HEARS THIS.

NO ONE SEES OR HEARS THIS.

  • A shot of Reno crazily screaming at his roommate is immediately followed by them calmly eating pizza. I guess Abel Ferrara skipped “Smooth Transitions” day in film school. 
  • Reno is eating all the pizza. What a lousy roommate, never mind the murdering. 
  • I think Abel also slept in on the day they taught “Move the Fucking Plot Along” in screenwriting class.  
  • But let’s give Abel a break, making a good movie the first time is hard, and it takes a long time to drill those film school techniques into your head. 
  • The lead singer of The Roosters asks Reno to paint a portrait of him for $500 and he does it in like an hour. Why the fuck doesn’t he just paint portraits for money then?
  • So there’s a homeless in the alley next to Reno’s apartment building who hates The Roosters’ rehearsing almost as much as Reno does. Reno drills him, of course, even though he was just in the apartment painting in the shot before. He’s like Nightcrawler. The teleporter, not the Jake Gyllenhaal psycho, or the game Nightcrawlers. 
  • Art guy on Reno’s prized buffalo painting: “No no no no this isn’t right, this is shit! Where’s the impact? It’s just a god damn buffalo!” That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you!
  • I have a feeling Reno isn’t going to take this criticism lightly. 
  • Having played strictly raw power punk before, The Roosters are now playing the blues. Not their wheelhouse. 
  • Now would be a good time to mention that Reno’s mouth is constantly agape. I honestly don’t think it’s been closed for more than 6 total seconds in the film.
  • Carol split. What the fuck took her so long?
  • Now Reno has a lightsaber. 
Hokey paintings and ancient weapons are no match for a good drill at your side, Reno.

Hokey paintings and ancient weapons are no match for a good drill at your side, Reno.

  • Now Reno is talking into a dial tone and pretending it’s Carol. OK HE’S NUTS WE GET IT. 
  • Reno calls the art dealer to set up a meeting to kill him, but it appears the art dealer thinks they’re going to meet for a sexual tryst. So Reno applies makeup like Dr. Frank N. Furter, for no reason other than we still need to establish that he’s crazy in case we haven’t had that drilled into us enough.
  • So Reno is just standing there looking psycho and revving is drill and the art dealer is just standing there. Maybe leave immediately? But he just slowly backs away until he’s drilled through the chest. He just didn’t understand Reno. 
  • So finally, Reno goes to Carol’s husband’s pad, drills him, then hides in the bed pretending to be him. Carol turns off the lights, climbs into bed, AAANNNND! That’s it. The end. Fuck you.

Scare Volume: Reno is creepier than most of the current candidates for president, but otherwise this movie is more gory and unsettling than scary.

Gore Volume: FACT: When you kill people with a drill, there’s going to be a lot of gore. Reno knows this, but still doesn’t mind when homeless blood gets all over his chambray shirts. But that doesn’t matter, since he never comes remotely close to getting caught.

Nudity Volume: A lesbian shower scene that will get your drill bit running.

Best Kill: Definitely when Reno drills through a homeless’s head. They put a still of this scene on the first VHS cover (see above) and as a result it was labeled a “Video Nasty” in the UK and banned for years because adults shouldn’t make their own decisions about what to watch in the privacy of their own homes.

Best Scene: When the art dealer laces into Reno that his painting is shit and a waste of time and talent, which perfectly sums up this movie in the most meta way possible.

Worst Scene: In the long lineage of lazy horror thrillers that treat police as the dumbest motherfuckers on the planet, there’s one drill kill scene where you see Reno actually walk through the blood and leave bloody footprints. Yet you still never see one cop in this movie. Did he need to leave a signed copy of one of his shitty paintings for the cops to even begin to investigate?

How ’bout the Tunes: I kind of love it, but I can totally understand why people would think it’s total garbage, because it really is. I’m talking about the Bach music, not The Roosters:

(I painstakingly timed the Roosters scenes in the two below videos for your convenience)

Band Rating: I understand that this sound isn’t everyone’s cup of drill bits, but punk has been my preferred genre of music for 25 years and I think The Roosters rock, and I now use their music to wake up at sunrise every morning.

SchlockOut-Band-NMB

Overall: Sigh, another one that’s not as rock-based as I initially thought. Despite all the screen time they get, nothing ever really becomes of The Roosters. You expect Reno to drill kill them from the moment they move in, but it oddly never happens. If only they were street performers, it would be a different story. Same with the landlord, who is antagonistic toward Reno (except for his generous gift of a skinned rabbit; couldn’t he have given Reno a bucket of KFC instead?) and you’re waiting for Reno to drill him down, but that also never happens. After the rabbit thing, you just don’t see him again. Also the same with the whole priest thing in the beginning. I really don’t get Reno’s choice of murder weapon or motivation to kill the homeless. It’s almost like he’s trying to be Travis Bickle or something, but it clearly doesn’t work. But Abel is a pretty good actor in this, and he would go on to make better films. There’s a good horror movie hiding in here somewhere, you just have to drill down past all the time-wasting shots and dumb artsy buffalo shit to unearth it.    

Score: 5.5 Homeless Buffaloes (out of 10)

11 thoughts on “Schlocktoberfest V – Day 16: The Driller Killer

  1. I almost watched this last year. Sounds like I didn’t miss much. Didn’t know it had a music thing going on! Although, it sounds like there’s not much of that anyway… I’ll check out the music later. Remind me! Because I’ll totally forget.

    Like

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