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The Driller Killer (1979)

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.

Director:

Abel Ferrara

Writer:

Nicholas St. John (screenplay) (as N.G. St. John)
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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

The blood runs in rivers... The drill keeps on drilling See more »

Genres:

Drama | Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

15 June 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Driller Killer See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA

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Box Office

Budget:

$20,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Navaron Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (pre-release)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Abel Ferrara claims that half of this movie was shot in 1978 and the other half was shot in 1979. This explains why the actors hair styles and looks in general change quite frequently during the movie. See more »

Goofs

While the Driller Killer prepares to drill a homeless man in the head, the homeless man continuously changes position between shots, in spite of sleeping soundly enough to not hear the Driller Killer revving his drill. See more »

Quotes

Dalton Briggs: No, no, no, no. This isn't right. This is nothing. This is shit! Where's the impact? It's just a goddamn Buffalo!
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Alternate Versions

The uncut version of this film had been banned on three occasions by Australian censors, in September 1982, July 1983, and November 1984. It was finally awarded an R rating in September 1985, after some violence was trimmed, most notably the scene depicting a drill through the forehead. This version was released widely on VHS. The Australian DVD released by Umbrella Entertainment is still the cut version even though a sticker on the cover clearly states PREVIOUSLY BANNED NOW RELEASED UNCUT. The artwork shows as rated MA but the disc shows rated R. The actual runtime is 94.20min whereas the unrated 2 disc region 1 version runs for 95.57min. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Children (1980) See more »

Soundtracks

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 »

User Reviews

 
A hit for Abel Ferrara
18 July 2004 | by The_VoidSee all my reviews

It has been said of Abel Ferrara that you will either be turned on by his artistic vision, or be left cold by it. I'm split down the middle when it come to his films, I've liked half the ones I've seen but disliked the other half; this one fits firmly in the 'like' side of the equation. The Driller Killer is another entry into the 'shock' cinema repertoire, which is topped by such classics as The Last House on the Left and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The Driller Killer hasn't gained itself as much fame or notoriety as those two, but don't let that fool you; it is still a very good movie.

The story follows an artist, who, through the pressures of his work and various things going on around him, is slowly driven insane. His insanity is brought about by lack of money and a punk rock band that has moved in upstairs. We are able to see the frustrations of our 'hero' increase throughout the movie, especially when the plot thickens and several other things in his life go awry. Because of this, we can see that there is a reason for the brutality that is later shown in the film, and therefore this movie can take credit for having a story behind it's violence, and not just having brutality for the sake of it.

The Driller Killer was originally banned as a "video nasty" because of the notoriety it gained for it's cover art, as opposed to it's content. This can be seen clearly by the fact that The Driller Killer isn't actually that gory. Of course, as the title suggests; this film features a drill being inserted into various places on the human anatomy; but unlike a lot of other movies of this ilk, the horror doesn't come as a result of the huge amounts of gore spurting from the wounds, but rather from the noise that the drill makes while being used, and the insanity of the main character. However, gorehounds will still find lots to like about this movie and the people without a strong stomach are probably best staying clear.

Overall, the Driller Killer is a creative and inventive insight into insanity. It's not a masterpiece like some movies that deal with a similar theme, such as Taxi Driver, but it a very good movie and recommended to fans of shock cinema.


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