The Driller Killer (1979)

Directed & Edited by: Abel Ferrara

Written by: Nicholas St. John


Carolyn Marz .... Carol
Abel Ferrara (Jimmy Laine) .... Reno Miller
Baybi Day .... Pamela
Harry Schultz .... Dalton Briggs

Release Dates: Theatrical: June 15, 1979; Night Visions Film Festival: October 28, 2001 (Finland); Iik!! Horror Film Festival: November 3, 2002 (Finland)

*Images appear courtesy at:






Reno Miller (Jimmy Laine) is a starving artist trying to pay his rent along with his roomates Carol (Carolyn Marz) and a strung out addict Pamela (Baybi Day) but they aren't succeeding plus they are getting a bunch of racket in another room as a local band rehearses their music for upcoming gigs.
But slowly demons starts to penetrate his sanity and turn up the amps of his blood red visions.
Slowly he starts to lose it and goes crazy by using a drill and killing local street bums and other people and no one knows who is causing this mess.


We spot a very cheesy beginning with Reno Miller in the film walking into a church and there are strange surroundings with him that involved a Nun and a person as someone that talks to him strangely at the church. It seems impressive for a no budgeted grindhouse flick such as this one but again it didn't make much sense here afterwards.
There is an interesting scene with Reno and Pamela when he tries to drill a hole in her door and she's so strung out on drugs not deciding where the hole should be. Good close up shots on him drilling the hole as it leaves a horror impression for sure.
We spot some trashy moments when Reno realises how high their phone bills are and an effective moment when he smashes the phone out of the window from his building as well as the street people noticing all of this which you don't always see in a film.
A nicely focused in moment when Reno talks to his boss Dalton on getting money for his paintings then he refuses and gets nasty about it which looked perfect by all that's going on here looking almost like a mafia type of scene when we watch as to what happens bit by bit here.
A scene looks very effective when Reno starts menacingly chopping up a dead rabbit to cook for dinner as there's neat lighting effects and also has a feel for the horror story.
We have some cheesy camera shots on people dancing while a band is practising as the music sounds terribly annoying and out of tune and it psychs you out a great deal as well as spotting Reno complaining about the noise leaving an artsy psychotic moment to everything as well as a moment when people were on acid watching all of this happening back in the days.
We do spot a psychological moment which looked realisitic with two groupies in a washroom threatening Pamela to stay away from their guys as it looked pretty powerful and the makers I have to say took their time doing this small scene.
Also a perfect creepy and dark moment when Reno starts to lose it around his paintings by hearing voices talking to him with shots on his paintings in which has a haunting type of feel to everything and showing someone slowly turning into a madman. Plus a nice dark shot on him looking intense standing still as well as a great hallucination sequence with Carol calling towards him and seeing some freaky results which fits into the story nicely as this was one of the only good pointers to this flick.
There's another real intense conversation between both Carol and Reno when she tells him about a killer that she read in the paper and he verbally attacks her causing her to cry which looked good.
The killings eventually start to happen but half of it looked a little too over the top like when he charges after a few street bums and they try yo get away from him as this looked a bit amateurishly done. Yet there's a good grpahic scene with one sleeping and then he brings the drill close to his head and he wakes up as well as what happens with the end results which can please slasher fans.
There are some interesting killing scene's with Reno but the most effective one's were when he bolts a street bum to some building walls and then does him in.
The other good one was when he is standing in his suite with a half cast shadow on him holding the drill and looking menacing and then pinning Dalton in a corner and doing him in.
Bottom line is that this film was a complete bore and it took forever to get to the horror in the film as it just seemed like a crazy and boring drama halfway through as the makers seemed to take filmaing lessons by Andy Warhol. This is NOT like Slumber Party Massacre so don't even think of it. It's almost like one of those lame drive in movies. The film remains pretty much obscure too. Avoid it.

The actors were full of virtual unknown's and it does seem a little rough but mainly due to this film's low budget.
Carolyn Marz (Carol) wasn't too bad as the level headed one in the flick in which she shows a good calm and patient type of attitude and does well with her lines whenever she speaks. Seems to do well in a halluicantion sequence acting perfectly ghoulish offering a perfect presence. However she tries to show a versatality which didn't show off well at all when she gets emotionally upset or being aggressive as she seemed quite off with this alltogether.
Jimmy Laine (Reno Miller) however contributed quite a bit to his role as a demented artist losing his mind to pay the rent as he shows true intensity however there were times he seemed a little melodramatic. He looked good at going crazy with his fellow actress when she asks him when his painting is done and he nearly goes in a rage. Plus does another great job acting intimidating and obnoxious when someone else mentios about a killing in the local paper. He also looked good at looking nearly menacing coming into the room where two people are sleeping together as if he was going to do them in next.
Baybi Day
(Pamela) seemed believeable as a drug addict roomate that loves to party as she does well by being out of it and whining her words since she came across as truly annoying to be around. However, she was a bit over the top at times when she gets emotionally upset and doesn't react too well during when she spots a dead body.
Harry Schultz
(Dalton Briggs) was the best out of the cast with his supporting role in which he shows off a good cold like type of behavior as well as acting cocky. Plus was good with his smooth talking by acting heartless on his deals with his fellow actor in which he seemed to come across as a pimp or a mafia of some type. Also he represents himself terrifically onto the camera. Drew some great attention here.

There is a lesbian make out scene with two women taking a shower and their breasts are exposed.
There's a butt shot on Carolyn Marz after taking a shower wrapped in a towel.

People are being drilled with lots of blood splurting out
A woman's eye's are plucked out during a hallucination sequence.

The music was roughly composed by Joe Delia with a bad synthesizer but yet he does make it sound dark and interesting in certain parts of the film. There's gloomy cheesy deep sounds especially when things are dark and the killer is preparing to attack. Also we have the low budget haunting deep keyboard playing which sounds really effective too and stands out pretty good. Also we have echoey sounds and sticks clanging as this sometimes got on my nerves. There's the odd peacewful music for certain uplifting moments which sounded mediocre. Also there's some booming sounds too in alot of the near terrors that are about to occur which seemed fairly suspenseful. So this composer had a variety of music in the film some good and some bad.