The Driller Killer (1979)

Abel Ferrara as artist Reno Miller (as Jimmy Laine)

The Driller Killer

New York City. Reno Miller, a scruffy young artist, enters a small Catholic church in Spanish Harlem where he walks to the front where an elderly bearded man is kneeling and chanting "pity the sinners" over and over. Reno seems to recognize the man as his long-lost father, whom is now apparently a derelict. The old man unclasps a hand and grabs Reno's hand. Reno runs, grabs his girlfriend Carol, who accompanied him to the church, and leaves. They ride in a taxi towards downtown, and Reno calls the man a "degenerate" and a "bum". Evidently, the derelict had a piece of paper with Reno's name and phone number and requested a meeting at the church to talk to him. Reno, despite knowing that the derelict was his father, denies knowing him to Carol. Reno and Carol go to pick up Pamela, their other roommate, who is in a local bar watching a punk rock band perform.

The next morning, Reno hears Pamela trying to drill a hole in the door, and he does it for her since Pamela is constantly spaced out being an ex-junkie. Reno, Carol, and Pamela all live together in a seedy apartment somewhere in Manhattan and are struggling to get by. Reno complains about the bills for the utilities they get from the water, to the electricity, and to the telephone bill and of the long distance, hour-long, phone calls that Pamela and Carol made in the past month. In frustration, Reno throws the phone out a window. Later, Reno has a dream about the mysterious bearded man and about the power drill that he used earlier. Reno hates his neighborhood where homeless derelicts reside on the streets around his apartment building. Reno goes to see Dalton, a flamboyantly gay art gallery owner and tells him that he is currently working on a masterpiece painting (which is a giant painting of a buffalo against a multi-colored landscape). Reno says that he needs another week and asks for a loan of $500 to pay for his rent. But Dalton refuses, saying that he had lent enough money to Reno this past year from a variety of reasons from medical bills to urtilty bills. But Dalton tells Reno that if he finishes the painting in one week and if he likes it, he will buy it and give Reno whatever money he needs to financially help him out.

Strapped for money, since neither Reno or Pamela have bank accounts, Carol writes a check for $500 for the rent and gives it to the grumpy landlord Al, which she claims that it is her alimony check that her ex-husband gives her. The landlord takes the check, but tells Carol that they are still a month behind on the rent, and in a few days, on the 1st of the month, they will be two month behind and he wants the rest of the money soon.

The following day, Tony Coca-Cola and the Roosters, a punk rock band that Pamela hangs around, move into an apartment nearby Reno's and soon begin practicing their music. The loud music from the band drives Reno more unnerved and frustrated. That night, Reno, Carol, and Pamela watch TV since they have no money and cannot go out since Reno has to spend what little money he has on utilities, and Pamela apparently squanders what money she makes on drugs. During the commercials, they watch a TV advertisement for a Porto-Pack, a battery pack with allows a person to walk around with electrical appliances.

At 2:00 a.m., while trying to work on his painting, Reno becomes more agitated from the loud music that Tony and his band continue to play. He sees an image of himself saturated in blood, and goes outside into the dark streets for a walk. At the foot of a garbage-strewn alley, Reno sees an elderly derelict sleeping, and stands him up. It seems that Reno is going to accost the man, but he ducks into the alley with him when they see a group of teenage gang members chasing another bum in the street and run right past them. Reno drops the bum to the ground and vows that he will not end up like him or his derelict father.
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