The Driller Killer(1979)
Director Abel Ferrara's (BAD LIEUTENANT) first major feature has an infamous reputation but is actually more of an art film than a straightforward bloodletter. Tortured and penniless artist Reno (Ferrara) and his girlfriends Carol (Carolyn Marz) and Pamela (Baybi Day) hang out at their New York loft, enduring such problems as the phone bill, the rent, and a rock band that's always practicing downstairs. When it all becomes too much, Reno grabs his drill and runs through the city on all-night rampages. Eventually, Carol moves out, Reno's paintings don't sell, and things just get worse from there. Shot on gritty 16mm, THE DRILLER KILLER has a distinctly 1970s New York underground feel--a low-rent artistic quality that makes it seem like a cross between TAXI DRIVER and ANDY WARHOL'S TRASH (with drilling). Low-budget and somewhat amateurish, this film nevertheless benefits from some moody lighting and Ferrara's brave insight into the psyche. Reno's mental disintegration manages to be chillingly believable and a potent statement on the place of the artist in modern society. A surprise hit on the drive-in circuit, this was rereleased in 1981 to capitalize on the teenage slasher movie boom (and the success of Ferrara's second film, MS. 45).