The Driller Killer (1979)

Unrated  |   |  Horror, Thriller  |  15 June 1979 (USA)
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Reviews: 104 user | 58 critic

An artist slowly goes insane while struggling to pay his bills, work on his paintings, and care for his two female roommates, which leads him taking to the streets of New York after dark and randomly killing derelicts with a power drill.



(screenplay) (as N.G. St. John)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Reno Miller (as Jimmy Laine)
Carolyn Marz ...
Carol Slaughter
Baybi Day ...
Harry Schultz ...
Dalton Briggs
Alan Wynroth ...
Al the Landlord
Maria Helhoski ...
The Nun
James O'Hara ...
Man in Church
Richard Howorth ...
Stephen - Carol's Husband
Louis Mascolo ...
Knife Victim
Tommy Santora ...
Rita Gooding ...
TV Spot
Chuck Saaf ...
TV Spot
Gary Cohen ...
Voice-over (voice)
Janet Dailey ...
Girl at Audition
Joyce Finney ...
Girl at Audition


Reno is an artist struggling to survive in NYC. He draws inspiration from scenes of daily street life and occasional random violence. Under pressure to finish his oft-delayed grand masterpiece, his psychotic alter-ego takes over and he begins killing random vagrants to boost his creativity, not quite realizing that it is happening in reality. When an art dealer grimly rejects Reno's finished masterpiece, Reno's mental condition quickly deteriorates. Written by Elfin Slade

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Blood Runs In Rivers... And The Drill Keeps Tearing Through Flesh And Bone See more »


Horror | Thriller


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

15 June 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Driller Killer  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$20,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (cut) | (uncut)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Banned in the UK until 1999. See more »


When the Driller Killer drills into a homeless man's head, he does not drill far enough to cause death, as evidenced by the depth of blood on the drill-bit. See more »


Reno Miller: Look, I can't even think with these guys playing that music in the place below mine. It's like they play all day and all night. They don't quit for a minute. Hell, they don't even stop to go to the bathroom!
Landlord: It's not my problem. It's your problem.
Reno Miller: What do you mean it's my problem? You're the super around here. It's your job to keep this place quiet.
Landlord: My job? It's not my job. Besides, they don't bother me.
Reno Miller: What do you mean? Why should they bother you? Look what the hell you're doing, fixing spark...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Movie opens with message "THIS FILM SHOULD BE PLAYED LOUD." See more »


References The Wild One (1953) See more »


Invention in Bb; Arioso
Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach (as J. S. Bach)
Performed by Joe Delia (as Joseph Delia)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Decent , sleazy early 80's Art-house Slasher... Best Commentary Ever!!!
23 January 2007 | by (Detroit) – See all my reviews

I am sure you are all aware of the history surrounding Mr. Ferrara's first proper film the 'Driller Killer'. It has achieved most of it's notoriety due to it's distinction of being one of the first so-called 'Video Nasties'- films banned by the UK due to lurid content. From what I have gathered after watching the majority of these 'Video Nasties', is that this was some sort of backlash and hysteria by the moral police. If you go into this film expecting gore-filled mayhem and over-the-top violence you will likely be very disappointed...

However if you go into this film with no expectations, you will likely be amused and entertained. This film will be much more enjoyable if you are over 30 and from the glorious, sleazy NY before it was sanitized. The dirty punk rocker sleaze factor oozes nicely from this film and I found it very satisfying...

Keep in mind, this was Abel's first film and it shows. Some of the shots are rather extraneous, and certainly a few of them could of been framed better. The pacing does a lag a bit in spots, and some of the dialogue is rather inane (I actually find the inane dialogue to be charming and amusing)...

The factor that elevates this DVD to 'must-purchase' territory (I am referring to the Cult Epics version), is Abel Ferrara's amazing commentary. He is obviously on lots of strong drugs and his stream of conscious rambling really enhance the viewing experience. he is very quick to point out flaws in his film with wild abandon. It is also lovely to listen to him oogle the actresses and ramble off incoherently in stream of consciousness Frankenstein quasi-sentences...

If you are a punk rock child from the 80's you will probably appreciate this film much more than the casual viewer. I hesitate to call it a horror film. It is more of an Art-house, drugged-out, sleazy portrait of early 80's New York City set in a slasher film regarding man's frustration and gradual descent into madness. Check it out, and please re-watch with the commentary. I promise you will be amused (and amazed)...

5 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Recent Posts
That's nearly 2 hrs of my life I want back!!! sassylee-1
Bought this for £1 dallywhitty
the worst video nasty.. comedy_dan
Does a Sountrack to this film exist? Benzo
But then its not a horror movie is it?! mysparkle
BAYBI DAY honeymoon_hatchet
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