The Driller Killer (1979)
Written By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Abel Ferrara
Producer: Rochelle Weisberg
Screenplay: Nicholas St. John
Date Released: June 15, 1979
Jimmy Laine aka Abel Ferrara as Reno
Carolyn Marz as Carol
Baybi Day as Pamela
Harry Schultz as Dalton Briggs
Alan Wynroth as Landlord
Maria Helhoski as Nun
James O’Hara as Man in church
Rating = 2/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
The Driller Killer follows a struggling artist named Reno who cannot seem to sell his paintings. Seeing all the homeless on the streets of New York City and high crime rates, his frustration with his own life grows. His struggles with his finances, social life and general living conditions grow into something that causes Reno to take out his frustrations out on the homeless. At a time when homelessness was rampant, Reno begins to have a desire to kill and he uses a drill and a portable power source called the porto-pak to do it.
In the beginning of the film, the blood and gore is minimal. But as the film progresses, the amount of blood increases. In general, once the artist, Reno starts to go on his rampage, there are a few scenes containing blood splatter. There is one notable scene where the struggling artist drills into a homeless persons head whereby a substantial amount of blood pours out of the man’s head.
The Grave Review
It is safe to say that The Driller Killer is a period piece about homelessness and economic frustration. Although not directly linked to the premise of the story, the film focuses on a grunge/punk/rock band that is seen throughout the movie. Punk music is said to be rooted somewhere in the late 1960s to 1970s. Such music was seen for those individuals who enjoyed rebel and free-living life. This aspect was very fitting to the theme of the film. The plot itself is not very insightful but the era is telling of what Director, Abel Ferrara, was thinking at the time of filming this movie.
In some ways, the characters in this film are very sad. Every character is struggling and desperate for money and fulfillment. The characters appeared to be defeated in life and that is a sad thought. The performances were well-done and a little more believable than other films of the same caliber.
On a side note, there is a funny scene in the beginning where Reno asks one woman he is living with where she wants to hang a portrait, so he drills a hole for her. Reno says “where do you want it?.” She says “here…no no I want it over there.” She does this about four times. Reno’s patience is outstanding and for that we respect this subtle scene.
The film’s progression seems to be exceptionally slow and drawn out. But overall, the film is worth a watch from an atmospheric standpoint. Otherwise, the film draws little attention to a majority of the film.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives The Driller Killer (1979) two graves out of five graves.
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