I was so stoked to watch today’s feature, 1979’s Driller Killer and can I tell you what a letdown it was? Disappointment isn’t a strong enough word. It’s as if I woke up on Christmas morning and instead of presents under the tree I found my dad beating Santa Clause to death with a golf club and then he set Santa on fire and kicked him into the sun. I had some ridiculously high hopes for this movie, I admit. It’s about Reno Miller (Played by Abel Ferrara under the name Jaime Lynch), his girlfriend Carol (Carolyn Marz), and Carol’s functionally retarded lesbian lover Pamela (Played by someone with my favorite name ever, Baybi Day.) Reno’s an artist and all-around douchebag. They never have enough money to afford their $500(!) a month apartment in Union Square. When the quote-unquote punk band Tony Coca-Cola and the Roosters moves in downstairs and plays their loud music (Actually it was more like a song with three chords) additional pressure is added until Reno snaps and goes on a killing spree.
With a drill attached to a power pack. Hence the title. It sounds promising, yes?
I thought I would especially like this movie since I have a bad history of sharing buildings with jerkwads. In college, my dorm room was under a room shared by the basketball team, who would party and play basketball indoors all night long. This same room was next to the room the baseball team shared and they had this weird habit of staying up late and watching porn together. That has to be some kind of guy thing. Why do guys all watch porn together? It seems like that would be entering weird, circle-jerkish territory. But I digress. Anyway, I’m currently living above a group of unemployed jerks who play their music all night and have no clue what it’s like to have to go to a day-job. The people before them would have really horrible fights that would last all night long. Our apartments share the same layout and, oddly enough, they seemed to fight a lot in the bathroom so I could never use the toilet in peace. So I’ve definitely been tempted to go on a killing spree involving a power drill.
But the movie has some problems. First of all, every single character is either very flatly drawn or just entirely unlikable. Especially Reno, he is a major dickweed. You’re really left wondering why he even has a girlfriend at all. Plus, his artwork is terrible. His masterpiece is a picture of a buffalo with bloody claw marks around it. It looks like it would be airbrushed on some stoner’s van next to a picture of a Native American hitting a bong with a unicorn flying over the moon. He talks about art like a first-year student with half a semester of Art Institute under his belt, so he sounds exactly like Lady Gaga. He expects this one picture to solve his financial problems but his art dealer hates it.
The annoying part is that the summary on the movie envelope says that Reno starts killing after the rejection but he actually starts killing derelicts about half-an-hour before the rejection. And why does he kill homeless people? It seems like it would make sense that he’d just set the band on fire or something.
More things that I hate about this movie. There are random outer-space “p-chew!” noises throughout at really weird moments. That seems to be something more from the Bill Rebane oeuvre.
Everyone in the movie is as greasy and unappealing as possible. It’s like they cast every person who’s ever been in an American Apparel ad. Now imagine those people trying to act. There’s a particularly sad lesbian shower scene that I’d normally be enthusiastic about. It wasn’t very erotic, though, since the women were about as skinny as concentration camp survivors. It was hard to hear anything over the clanking of their bones.
There’s this exceptionally evil scene where Pamela is asking Reno to drill a hole in a door and she keeps changing where she wants it. The only scene in human history that rivals this one in annoyingness is when Joe Don Baker is yelling at the little boy in Mitchell.
I think what I hated the most is when Reno starts stabbing a skinned rabit carcass over and over again.
There were some moments of “WTF” humor that could almost make up for the general evilness of this movie. Like the opening.
During the band’s rehearsal, we meet Not David Bowie. This guy cracks me up.
For a guy who really hates the band’s music, it’s awfully odd that Reno goes to several of their shows. But if he didn’t go to their shows then we would never see this guy, who spends about 30 seconds making weird faces for the camera.
The one thing that I really did like about this movie is that it’s like a time capsule of Old New York. I’m glad I can work in Soho without being mugged but it really does suck that the greatest danger now is being run over by the Mommy Mafia’s strollers. I like seeing a version of New York before it became a playground for the rich. So watch the movie for that, but only that. Don’t expect any scares or anything. I can’t imagine how this was banned in the U.K.