The Driller Killer Movie Review

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Reno is a struggling artist living in a shabby New York apartment with his girlfriend Carol and her female lover Pamela. With no money and mounting bills to pay, coupled with the non-stop 24 hours a day rehearsing of the punk band downstairs, Reno is slowly driven mad, and takes out his frustrations on the hapless derelicts living on the streets with the aide of a portable power drill.

The Driller Killer, the very name incites visions of a gory powertool slash fest, but the film is far from the standard maniac on a killing spree fare. A somewhat divisive film amongst those who have seen it, the name, and the fact it was banned in some countries have given audiences the expectation of a graphically violent gorefest, probably not helped by the fact that the VHS cover showed a man being drilled in the forehead. This is more of a gritty, New York underground art film than what one would call a slasher.

The film opens with the words, "This Film Should Be Played Loud", I don't think one has to take this literally, many punk albums of the late 1970s (Driller Killer was completed in 79) were inscribed with the words "This Album Should Be Played Loud", and it is my opinion that the opening words are an indication this is a punk film. It certainly adhere's to the punk ethos of the time, it's slightly experimental, it's exploitative in parts, it's rough and raw and doesn't always make sense.

The Driller Killer also differs from most slasher's in that all the victim's are male, and have nothing to do with the antagonists. If it were to follow the usual slasher formula, one would expect Reno to take revenge on the punk band who constantly annoy him, and the art dealer who doesn't like his latest work, of which Reno considers his masterpiece. Instead, Reno has an immense dislike for the homeless, perhaps because he fears becoming like them, and so they are the victims of his nightly rampage. These killings though, are seemingly incidental, and are perhaps the least important aspect of the film.

Although I bought The Driller Killer sight unseen, due to the fact it had a big "Previously Banned" sticker on the front, on first viewing, it was nothing what I expected. Looking forward to a mindless violent and gory death-by-powertool movie, what I got was a tale of urban frustration and alienation. To save being dissapointed, though I wasn't, best to rent before you buy.

For more on the dvd head to the Driller killer dvd section

Movie Review by Retro Fett
MoviesOnline Member


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