“THE DRILLER KILLER”— Death by Power Drill


“The Driller Killer”

Death by Power Drill

Amos Lassen

Abel Ferrara is Reno, a struggling artist and a man pushed to the edge by the economic realities of New in the late seventies. Then there is the No Wave, a band that is constantly practicing in the apartment below. Soon, his grip on reality begins to slip and he takes to stalking the streets with his power tool in search of prey.


“The Driller Killer” is the definitive look at NYC’s underbelly. Abel is a slasher who is as much at home in the art house as it is the grind house.This is a darkly fascinating look the late-’70s New York punk and pop-art scenes as well as a horror film. Ferrara stars as a misanthropic painter who lets his frustration with insensitive art dealers and obnoxious neighbors push him over the edge and that means causing him to commit homicide by power drill. Ferrara’s fascination with New York subcultures overtook the project, leading him to use half the picture hanging out with fringe-dwellers before finally getting around to offing them.


Reno wanders into a church, sits down next to some guy with a white beard and stares at him. Then the guy grabs Reno’s hand, and he freaks out and runs and gets into a cab with his girlfriend Carol, going on about how the guy was loony, when it was clearly him that is the crazy one. We have no idea what this means. He goes into this punk club and then home to his apartment building where a nubile young woman is trying to drill a hole in a door. She has gotten wound up in the cord and can’t decide where she wants Reno to drill the hole for her. And so it begins.

There’s an awesome scene in which some woman at the punk club warns Carol to stay away from her man. Then finally Reno snaps and gets to drilling someone. He picks a homeless guy.


I later read that Fererra made this movie over the course of a few years, just picking up the camera at various points and shooting a bit and then leaving it for a while, finally trying to fit it all together into a narrative.

The movie is a nightmare with poor film quality and mediocre acting but the story line is very interesting.


Bonus Features

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Michael Pattison and Brad Stevens