Ferrara made his rep more than 20 years ago with a pair of take-no-prisoners flicks that trod the hallowed paths of Samuel Fuller and Alan Clarke. Driller Killer (Jan. 11-12) tracks the descent of a lunatic murderer while Ms. 45 (Jan. 13-14) is a stylish pre- Baise-Moi revenge fantasy, in which a twice-raped woman turns the barrel on men. (Ferrara is best known for Bad Lieutenant, the 1992 Harvey Keitel degradation romp that was a huge hit at the Roxie but isn't included in this series.) In a Ferrara movie, the desertion of conscience always coincides with the arrival of doom -- as it does in real life, only without the perfumed self-justifications.
At the very least, Ferrara's dark, visionary films provide (pick one) comfort or salvation. You can console yourself that your screw-ups pale next to Matthew Modine's druggy alcoholic abuses of Claudia Schiffer and Beatrice Dalle in Black Out (a 1997 drama finally receiving its Bay Area premiere Jan. 13-14). Alternatively, you could seize the opportunity to straighten up before your penny-ante office schemes devolve into the kind of nihilistic high-stakes industrial espionage that Christopher Walken, Willem Dafoe, and Asia Argento evilly embrace in New Rose Hotel (a 1998 adaptation of William Gibson's story, also premiering locally, Jan. 15-16). Or simply take pleasure in the knowledge that at least you don't have Abel Ferrara's nightmares.