The Sunday Cult Film Corner: “The Driller Killer (1979)”

18 Mar

Ahhhh, Sunday. the pitiless bleak winter is still howling outside our flat. Currently there is a pretty nasty snowstorm happening outside. Just looking at it from my chair is enough to chill my bones and make me shudder. It’s a time when you should be snuggling up in your nice warm dwelling and contemplating seeing a heartwarming family film with a cup of tea or some mulled wine or something.

And for this week, I’ve got the PERFECT family film. something to warm your cockles with the wholesome joy of it all. Ladies and gentlemen, i give to you THE DRILLER KILLER.

Directed in 1979 by famed cult director Abel Ferrara, The Driller Killer tell the poor emotional story of Reno (played by Ferrara himself). To say Reno is having some troubles is an understatement. He’s a struggling artist who’s under a lot of pressure. He has bills he can’t pay, is living with his girlfriend and her lover but can’t seem to get any satisfaction from that. Under pressure to get money, He’s told by a local art dealer to produce a decent piece of work within a week so he can get the money to clear his debts. However his peace of mind in interrupted by a noisy punk band takes up next door. Their constant practising at all hours, along with everything else cause poor Reno to slowly lose his mind as he takes out his frustrations and pain in increasingly gory and murderous ways. All the man really needs is a hug and a decent cup of tea.

Now of course The Driller Killer has one hell of a notoriety attached to it. In the early ’80s, it was banned in the UK fas one of the many “Video Nasties”. and yes it is rather violent and a little bit gory, but in reality it’s no worse than many other films that were released at the time. When you see it today, it actually looks a bit restrained.

The films itself paints a realistic picture of living in New York in the late 70s. Abel Ferrara, even more so than Woody Allen or Martin Scorsese, was a director that made the city an extra character in the film. But unlike Allen’s version of New York, with the jazz and rarified bohemia, Ferrara’s New York, is a cold, harsh place to live in, full of bums, trash on the street, psychos and all round degeneration and decay.

The film’s close edgy camerawork in portraying the intense urban paranoia and the squalid environment is pretty effective in pushing Reno to the edge of madness it’s surprisingly effective. Having said that, most of the characters in the film are rather unpleasant as well. the artist Reno is a whiny pain in the ass who internalises all his issues, his girlfriend is a ball buster, and everyone else is just entirely self obsessed and nasty to each other.

But it’s all good knock about fun. So turn up the heating, get a hot toddy and make sure that you PLAY THIS LOUD OK??

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Posted by on March 18, 2012 in Film


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