133 user 97 critic

The Driller Killer (1979)

Not Rated | | Drama, Horror, Thriller | 15 June 1979 (USA)
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.


Abel Ferrara


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




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


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


Several pints of blood will spill when teenage girls confront his drill See more »


Drama | Horror | Thriller


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Banned in the UK until 1999. See more »


In one scene, the killer is drilling into the head of a victim at a bus stop with a cordless power drill. In the next scene, he's running down the street with a cord dangling from his drill. See more »


Pamela: Hey, while I was in the pizza parlor, this creepy old man came up to me and said, "sweetie, you don't have to kiss to make babies." So, I waited until it was about time to leave with the pizza, so I walked right up to him and said out loud, "I know, but you still gotta fuck!"
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Crazy Credits

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

Alternate Versions

The 1999 UK release is not only censored but omits most of the end credits. See more »


Featured in Willing and Abel: Ferraraology 101 (2016) See more »


Grand Street Stomp
Written by D.A. Metrov (as Metro), Abel Ferrara (as Laine) and John Paul McIntyre (as MacIntyre)
Performed by Tony Coca-Cola and the Roosters
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User Reviews

Decent , sleazy early 80's Art-house Slasher... Best Commentary Ever!!!
23 January 2007 | by matrixj23See 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)...

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

15 June 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Driller Killer See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA


Box Office


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

Company Credits

Production Co:

Navaron Films See more »
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Technical Specs


| (pre-release)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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