Driller Killer | Varied Celluloid

Driller Killer

Posted by On August - 26 - 2008
Originally written by Prof. Aglaophotis


Plot Outline: Reno Miller is a man clinging to a shoe string; living in his New York apartment as an exceptional painter with his two girl friends Carol and Pamela with a number of mounting problems, particularly their attrition of money, lack of support from his art dealer coupled with the pressure of completing his current painting, the heavy bill to pay with poverty looming over their backs, the non-stop practices of the new punk band downstairs…the list of problems just goes on for Reno. Under this sort of pressure, there seems to be no way Reno can ventilate his emotions, much less direct his anger. That is of course, after Reno starts to fulfill his new found infatuation, for after helping Pamela drill a hole in one of the doors, Reno gained this hidden desire with drills…so much to the point that he slowly begins to lose his mind from the pressure and begins burning out his rage by using the power drill on the local street paupers. But how far will Reno go once his problems reach their negative zenith?


  


The Review
I have always loved a good character study in whatever I read or watch; it proves that a human being can use their imagination to its fullest lucidity in order to bring a fictional character to life, especially in a psychological manner. Although I knew I was in for a character study with a unique blend of visual artistry in Driller Killer, I felt amazed at witnessing the spectacle of a man trying to live out his imagination only to find that it cannot reach its expected potential due to suppressed feelings that shatter his social control, leading to detrimental behavior as a sole outlet and that is one of the many things I enjoyed about The Driller Killer. I first heard of this movie from Pantsman over the horror forum and as blasé as the title sounded, the more I read about it, the more intriguing it became to my mind. There is practically nothing you can’t find symbolic or meaningful to life in this movie, as ambiguous/long winded shots can easily be inferred and interpreted in ways that, no matter which direction they are taken either in the obviously new-found phallic/homoerotic obsession or the elimination of negative figures that are held equal to the character’s father, hit pretty damn close to home. What blows me away about this character is how realistic he and his situation really are; it may just be a horror movie, but it has its share of reality in mind. As most people try to chase their dreams and ambitions, some will grab hold to nightmares as they already struggle desperately to the life they already lead and how Abel’s character Reno finds his way to vent and lash out is deeply effective as you can see anyone with enough suppression in their lives to find a different way out on their own a harrowing ordeal and that is what really makes the movie stand out.

The audio quality in the movie was just about average, as keeping the volume too low makes lighter toned dialogue sound like murmurs and keeping it too high might throw you back into your seat (unless you have a stable surround sound system so that not every word is channeled in a seemingly singular solid direction). The soundtrack was interesting enough to keep the audience somewhat drawn in as we get a few synthesized tracks that reflect Reno’s drilling sprees with some industrial sound pounds and an almost Jaws/guitar-twang feel to it, teeming with some tribal chase-inducing drumbeats. The punk band contributes to the audio and soundtrack as well, as the sound of the band practicing and playing on stage sound raw enough to emit the feeling of actually standing in front of the band in a stuffy closed up room, the bass lines and heavy voice of the singer over the microphone and the drum beats throbbing against your body and banging against your ears, making their incessant role in the movie boost up enough so that the audience sort of feels for the struggling Reno (I should know; I used to have a band playing my garage). The cinematography was quite effective in the sense that even the most candid and obvious continuity lags are forgivable, seeing how well they actually adhere to the unfolding of events. Reno continually watches the winos outside his apartment from time to time like a hateful cruel reminder of the results of his artistic failure; that he could end up just like them. The use of occasional hallucinations and dream sequences as well as the use of Douglas Metro’s paintings in Reno’s apartment all contributed in the artistic form of the movie, as well as the all time favorite reoccurring red theme which would all contribute to the foreshadowing violence ahead (the reoccurring image of Reno being sprayed with blood was dirty enough to keep me in awe). The acting, for the most part was average, but highly down to Earth as the characters were all brought into light with the actor’s dialogue and actions (Pamela actually reminds me of a punk girl I know today), the bums Reno runs into are all highly believable and well improvised and of course Abel Ferrara starring as the main character was quite a treat, bringing his anger and depression to the screen with personally lucid sharpness.

Driller Killer has a lot of style to it any way you look at it. There were various scenes that just made the movie feel greater than it already is, such as when Reno is presented with a dead rabbit for dinner and as he dresses up with lipstick and lingerie before going on a new drilling spree. Although I did get a little tired with the incessant band as we received various shots of them just being their annoying and intolerable selves (when they weren’t inadvertently bugging Reno, they bug the audience for reasons I don’t think Ferrara ever listed) and some of the drilling scenes might have needed a little more work in the process of creativity (what? No throat impaling?), they all contributed in the line of producing succinct grueling effects as well as some fun-with-drill-bits, so either way, the drillings were pretty cool. I found it hard to find something not to like about the movie as it said something about the human mind, how it can bend around circumstances until it wears out, as well as just about every theme within the movie being hard not to ignore. The poor bums might not have deserved the deaths since no one wants to live on the streets forever, but that is exactly where the ending of misery pops into the film, as well as the character’s cleverness, taking his anger out on those not as missed in society as others would. As a striving literary artist, I found the film’s theme of failure of artistic success being sparred with someone else’s annoying yet more successful art form to be as equally and personally powerful; it’s one of the cruelties of life and society that director Abel Ferrara has used in his work that applies so well in the Driller Killer. It’s violent, gritty, personal and enriching…check it out.

The DVD
I couldn’t help myself once I saw what this DVD really contained aside from one of my new favorite low budget serial killer horror films: a second disc featuring the early short films of director Abel Ferrara! How can one resist the temptation of watching one of the greatest realist cinema director’s early work in the film industry? Starting with the Driller Killer disc though, it really is a pretty good one as the transfer isn’t crystal clear, but hardly anything is obscure to our eyes. Most DVD commentary you run across is somewhat formal and informative, am I correct? Well, alright, perhaps I am not, but Abel Ferrara’s commentary on the film is not so much non-informative or informal as it is informative, slightly enlightening and quite humorous. He brings the facts and opinions up most of the time, as well as bringing some random light to whatever is on screen with jivy spontaneous comments, which really brings you into his mentality. Delving into his early short films, I began to appreciate his settings, themes and style of commentary, regardless of the fact that many background noises were heard alongside his dialogue. We got a better sense of Abel and where he comes from with his own personal stories, experiences with other actors and the mundane world around him. The shorts themselves, (Could this be Love and The Hold Up) were quite tangible as we get succinct yet down-to-earth feelings for some of the characters involved and their actions. The short entitled Nicky’s Film was ultimately intriguing as it’s a fortuitously/inadvertently silent movie with surreal themes involved and the theatrical trailer for Nine Lives of a Wet Pussy was great, seeing that you could still see Ferrara’s style of filming amidst the adult theme. In short, the second DVD is quite a find as it brings Ferrara’s mentality and first few films available to the audience, as well as a great horror film that’s worth the money digitally released from Cult Epics.

The Conclusion
Seeing that this is the first movie AND (multiple) DVD review I am offering as viewer sacrifice, I would have to say that the combination is great enough to be recommended for just about everyone interested in either discs.




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