The Driller Killer (1979)

84m (UK – video), 94m
16mm film, colour
mono, English

An American horror film directed by Abel Ferrara.

Plot Summary

Artist Reno Miller is slowly going mad – trying to finish his masterwork, he lives in a squalid flat with two young women, struggles to make ends meet and is distracted by a loathsome punk rock band practising in the downstairs apartment. He finally snaps and, armed with a battery powered drill, starts taking out his pent-up angers on the local low-lifes and homeless.


Director: Abel Ferrara
© MCMLXXIX [1979]
A Rochelle Films release. Navaron Films presents
Executive Producer: Rochelle Weisberg
Associate Producer: Douglas Anthony Metro [real name: D.A. Metrov]
Script: Nicholas St. John
Director of Photography: Ken Kelsch
Additional Camera: David Sperling
Assistant Camera and 2nd Camera: Dale Denning
Assistant Camera: Kalman Schissel
Head Gaffer: Ernie Jew
Grips: Doug Rowan, John Coulakis, Sal Giarratano, Wendy Keir, Sylvia Talkington, Dale Diamond
Editors: Orlando Gallini, Bonnie Constant, Michael Constant, Jimmy Laine [real name: Abel Ferrara]
Negative Matcher: Lou Somerstein
Music Composed and performed by: Joseph Delia
All [song] performances: Tony Coca-Cola and the Roosters
Location [Sound]: J. MacIntyre
Soundtrack: J. MacIntyre, J. Delia [real name: Joseph Delia], Douglas Metro
Re-recording: Richard Wiegle
Locations: City, New York, USA
Editors wish to thank: J. Stroke; James MacReading; Chris Andrews

Jimmy Laine [real name: Abel Ferrara] (Reno Miller)
Carolyn Marz (Carol)
Baybi Day (Pamela)
Harry Schultz (Dalton Briggs)
Alan Wynroth (landlord)
Maria Helhoski (nun)
James O'Hara (man in church)
Richard Howorth (Carol's husband [Stephen])
Louis Mascolo (knife victim)
Tommy Santora (attacker)
Rita Gooding, Chuck Saaf (T.V. spot)
Gary Cohen (voice over)
Janet Dailey, Joyce Finney (girls at audition)
Butch Morris (sidewalk beggar)
Paul Fitze, John Fitze, Karl Metner, Chris Amato, Rich Bokun, Michael Canosa, Greg Schirria, Thomas Baeza (kids on street)
Frank Hazard, Jack MacIntyre (waiting for bus)

John Coulakis (hallway)
Lanny Taylor (rooftop)
Peter Yellen (bus stop)
Steve Cox (Empire State)
Stephen Singer, Tim Constantine (street corner)
Anthony Picciano (sidewalk and street)
Bobby De Frank (fire escape)

Rhodney Montreal (Tony Coca-Cola (guitar))
Dickey Bittner (Ritchy (bass))
Steve Brown (Steve (drums))
Laurie Y. Taylor (Tony's girlfriend)
Trixie Sly (manager)
Andrea Childs, Hallie Coletta, Victoria Keiler, Claire Mailer, Paula Nichols (friends)

Alternative Titles

Driller Killer

Extracts included in
Filmgore (1983)

See also
Repulsion (1965)


  • City Limits no.173 (25 – 31 January 1985) p.21 – review (by Kim Newman)
  • Empire no.121 (July 1999) p.119 – illustrated review (by Kim Newman)
  • Film Comment vol.26 no.4 (July/August 1990) pp.40-42, 44, 46 – illustrated interview with Abel Ferrara (by Gavin Smith)
  • Scapegoat no.1 p.10 – review
  • Sight and Sound vol.9 no.6 (June 1999) p.59 – review (by Danny Leigh)
  • Sight and Sound vol.9 no.7 (July 1999) p.64 – letter (from Mark Kermode in response to above article)
  • Sight and Sound vol.9 no.8 (August 1999) p.62 – review of DVD release (by Geoffrey Macnab)
  • Sight and Sound vol.9 no.12 (December 1999) – note about video release
  • Total Film July 1999 p.102 – review (Simon Crook)


  • The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.335
  • Educational Institutions in Horror Film: A History of Mad Professors, Student Bodies, and Final Exams by Andrew L. Grunzke p.96
  • English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby p.258
  • 500 Essential Cult Movies: The Ultimate Guide by Jennifer Eiss with J.P. Rutter and Steve White p.243 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review
  • Hoffman's Guide to SF, Horror and Fantasy Movies 1991-1992 p.115 – credits, review
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films II by Donald C. Willis p.113
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films III by Donald C. Willis pp.83-84
  • Horror Films by Subgenre: A Viewer's Guide by Chris Vander Kaay and Kathleen Fernandez-Vander Kaay p.196
  • The Mammoth Book of Slasher Movies: An A-Z Guide to Over Sixty Years of Blood and Guts by Peter Normanton pp.183-185
  • The Pocket Essential Slasher Movies by Mark Whitehead p.80
  • Regional Horror Films, 1958-1990 by Brian Albright p.251-252
  • Rock on Film by David Ehrenstein and Bill Reed p.145
  • The Seduction of the Gullible by John Martin p.69 – credits, synopsis, review
  • Serial Killer Cinema: An Analytical Filmography by Robert Cetti p.136