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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.

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:

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

Could have easily escaped the UK 'video nasty' list if the original pre-VRA video cover wasn't so graphic. it featured a very bloody close-up of a drill boring into a man's head with lots of blood. The video cover was featured in video catalogues and received many complaints. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

[Reno opens an envelope for the Con-Ed energy bill]
Reno Miller: Holy Christ! What is this? They send us the bill to Madison Square Garden? What are they kidding me, man? How the hell are we supposed to pay this bill? What is this? The bill for three months?
Carol: That's the bill for one month.
Reno Miller: Christ, what have we got here? A refrigerator, a couple of lights?
[opens another envelope]
Reno Miller: Let's see here, telephone. Oh no! Houston, Texas?
Pamela: My mother.
Reno Miller: Look at this, L.A. $1.50... $2.75... $7.50, man.
Carol: Yeah, they're mine.
Reno Miller: ...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Alternate Versions

The film has had a rough time in the UK. Before 1984, when videos were not subject to censorship in Britain, it was released with the killings intact, although a minute of non-violent footage was missing from this version. It then got a reputation as one of the most notorious of the "video nasties", a media-fueled hysteria which led to the UK adopting some of the most stringent video censorship in the Western world. This reputation arose largely because of the video cover, which showed the infamous drill-in-the-forehead scene. After 1984, it became illegal to release a video without a BBFC video certificate, and the films' reputation was such that no-one even bothered trying until 1999, when a version omitting 54 secs from the head-drilling scene and 2 earlier murders was approved for an 18 certificate. The full uncut version was finally passed by the BBFC in November 2002. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Return of Shelley: Killer Driller (1989) See more »

Soundtracks

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
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Livin' in the city ain't no big deal.
13 January 2016 | by Hey_SwedenSee all my reviews

This early feature length effort from cult filmmaker Abel Ferrara is interesting, to say the least, if not for all tastes. While it might appeal to some slasher fans for its respectable body count and surprisingly decent gore, it does have more in common with "Taxi Driver" than, say, "Halloween". It's an incredibly gritty, crude, yet appreciably surreal urban drama about Reno Miller (played by Ferrara himself, using his acting pseudonym "Jimmy Laine"). Reno is a struggling young painter, who lives with two sexy female roommates, Carol (Carolyn Marz), and Pamela (Baybi Day). Renos' hold on reality is steadily slipping away. His mental state isn't helped by the fact that his landlord has let a punk band move into his building, and their constant rehearsals drive him nuts. Soon, he's out and about murdering the derelicts of NYC streets with a power drill.

This may be hard to stick with for some viewers. Admittedly, it's VERY thin on story. The acting, while amateurish, gets the job done, with Ferrara doing an amusing job in the lead role. "The Driller Killer" also is fascinating for the way it captures the punk scene of NYC in the late 1970s. The omnipresent music (score by Joe Delia, songs by Tony Coca Cola and the Roosters) is often insidiously catchy. The screenplay is by frequent Ferrara collaborator Nicholas St. John, who creates a fairly vivid portrait of one persons' mental decline. There is some memorable imagery here, such as Renos' painting of a buffalo. Use of various unsavoury NYC locations is excellent.

Worth a look for aficionados of 1970s cult cinema, but Ferrara didn't really hit paydirt until his next film, the great "Ms. 45".

Six out of 10.


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