Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Film Review: The Driller Killer (1979)

The Driller Killer (Review)
United States/1979
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"It's not a traditional fast-paced slasher, but it is a very effective and entertaining movie."

Struggling to pay his bills and care for his roommates, an artist slowly goes crazy, which leads to a bloody rampage involving a power drill...

The Driller Killer isn't a traditional slasher. It doesn't have a huge body count, a masked killer, or a fast pace. In fact, aside from a few flashes of violence, I don't think there's a single kill in the first half of the film. Instead, the film focuses on the plot—surprising, isn't it? The plot follows Reno (Abel Ferrara), a struggling artist who lives with two female roommates. He takes care of his roommates while trying to finish an important painting—but the pressure starts to get to him. So, he relieves his stress by killing homeless people with a power drill. Although there aren't a lot of kills early on in the film, the deaths really start to pile on during the latter half—there's even a montage of murder! It leads to an interesting climax and a chilling ending.


The Driller Killer is not a film for everyone. The film has a reputation for its violence, but it's a different time now. Believe me, there's much worse out there. What I'm saying is: if you're watching this for the 'shock factor,' you might be disappointed. On top of that, the pacing can be an issue here and there. This isn't a ferocious slasher. It's practically a slow-burn, often dragging its feet to its grisly climax. It's not a bad film, though. Issues aside, I think this is an effective horror film. In the slasher subgenre especially, we don't see many films that focus on characters. In this case, you get quite a bit from Reno. It makes the rampage and the ending so much more effective.

The acting was also good. I thought Abel Ferrara was great as the leading man. Compared to some of his duller castmates, he delivered his lines with conviction; I felt the passion in his performance. The supporting cast is hit-or-miss. I didn't think any of the performances were absolutely terrible, though. The film was shot well and the music was decent. The film was also written and directed by Abel Ferrara, who also directed Bad Lieutenant. Ferrara's focus on character and his uncompromising direction allow him to bring you into the mind of a killer. Although there are some pacing issues and its shock factor may be outdated, this is still a well written and directed film.

Overall, The Driller Killer is a very good horror movie. It's not a traditional fast-paced slasher, but it is a very effective and entertaining movie. If you like slow-burn horror movies, especially those with plenty of blood, this one is worth checking out.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, nudity.

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