The Driller Killer (Abel Ferrara / U.S., 1979):

"Il y a dans tout dément..." (Artaud) Life of Van Gogh, Abel Ferrara treatment. The opening suspends the world between the lurid glow of a church and the pitiless darkness outside, the fellow mesmerized by the crimson crucifix is repelled by the beggar bearded like a prophet. Rancid pizza and a bovine eye for the starving artist played by the director himself, scrubbing away at the slashed canvas of his "greatest piece." Random stabbings glimpsed through binoculars on the rooftop, meanwhile the girlfriend (Carolyn Marz) enjoys a shower with the zonked-out roommate (Baybi Day), just another New York City day. Urban woe rattles inside the painter's skull, amplified by Tony Coca-Cola and the Roosters, the spastic punk stompers next door—the breaking point comes first as a knife on a skinned rabbit, then a power tool on the vagrants lining the neighborhood street. "Nighttime traveler, I see... Whatcha got in yer hand, mister? A drill!" A ferocious vortex with a joke title (cf. Cassavetes' The Killing of a Chinese Bookie), the rigorous essence of the follia of the creative process, beautifully scummy to the touch. Straddling grindhouse and arthouse, Ferrara's rampage goes a progress through bloody geysers and No Wave concerts to summarize the synergy of auteurs and critics: "You should let him stick it up your ass. Use KY jelly, it won't hurt." Warhol panels mingled with Byzantine murals, a certain kinship with Rock 'n' Roll High School will be observed. Dr. Gachet the gallery owner (Harry Schultz) throws the ultimate insult ("You're becoming simply a technician!"), Ferrara in front of and behind the camera responds with the guerrilla artistic statement of madness. With Alan Wynroth, Richard Howorth, D.A. Metrov, and James O'Hara.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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