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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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Mr. Devereaux is a powerful man. A man who handles billions of dollars every day. A man who controls the economic fate of nations. A man driven by a frenzied and unbridled sexual hunger. A ... See full summary »

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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

Title is mentioned in the song "Nasty" by The Damned - a song about horror movies that were banned in the U.K. after the Video Recording Act of 1984. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Reno Miller: Oh, so it's finished? Thank you. It's finished... Since when did you become such an expert on painting? I mean, you're telling me it's finished? What do you know about painting, anyway? Really, what do you know about paint? I'll tell you what you know about paint, man: you don't know nothing about paint, man. You know what you know about? You know about how to bitch and how to eat and how to bitch and how to shit and how to bitch! But you don't know nothing about paint, so don't tell me when ...
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 A Short Film About the Long Career of Abel Ferrara (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Invention in Bb; Arioso
Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach (as J. S. Bach)
Performed by Joe Delia (as Joseph Delia)
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The thin line between trash-exploitation and art-house cinema
19 September 2004 | by CoventrySee all my reviews

Despite of its reputation and the repulsive sounding title, Abel Ferrara's The Driller Killer is more of a social drama about life in the big city than it is a horror shocker. Ferrara himself stars as Reno, an unbalanced painter slowly going crazy due to financial troubles, the noisy punk-band next door, demanding employers and housemates, and non-stop images of the pauperized city. He buys a tool and unleashes his fury on the numerous homeless in the area. Driller Killer is truly grim and as much shocking as the classic film it's clearly inspired on (namely: Taxi Driver) but it lacks a fitting tone and a appropriate background drawing. The film opens with a very confusing sequence in which the protagonist is standing at an altar while being approached by an elderly man. This footage is extra since the 1999 re-release and it looks like Ferrara wanted to supply his film with some kind of spiritual depth. It leads nowhere, though. In fact, take out the killings and you're left with a somewhat boring urban portrait. Driller Killer was included in the infamous list of 'video-nasties' and therefore automatically received a controversial cult-status without people even seeing it. Although the substance matter doesn't belong amongst the other titles in the list, The Driller Killer often wanders on the thin border between trash-exploitation and art-house cinema, as it features voyeuristic elements (a gratuitous lesbian shower sequence) as well as sheer close-ups of blood-puddles and whirring drills.

Abel Ferrara without a doubt is one of the most remarkable directors in American cinema history. I'm a huge fan of most of his films like 'The Addiction', 'Bad Lieutenant' and 'The Funeral'…It's not that I didn't like 'the Driller Killer', I just think that the poor production values really show off and that Ferrara did not yet had the professionalism and talent to make up for it by adding the trademarks that made his later films so brilliant. If you're interested by the repertoire of this often discussed director, you better don't start by watching Driller Killer. You're appreciate it a lot more after seeing some of his 90's films.


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