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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

The Driller Killer

1979 | United States | 96 min | More...
A still from The Driller Killer (1979)
B-: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
on Fri Feb 19, 2021

Abel Ferrara’s debut feature. Despite the lurid title and graphic conclusion, The Driller Killer plays more like a character study than exploitation. Your mileage may vary, but I was onboard for this chronicle of a struggling artist’s descent into madness.

Ferrara, who also plays the lead, convinces as a frustrated burgeoning talent. He relies on his pseudo-girlfriend for financial support. He kowtows to an art dealer for validation. He endures a post-punk band rehearsing in the basement below his flat. As the indignities pile up, Ferrara’s addled mind seeks agency.

It’s a slow-burn build, but the finale sees him let loose a gruesome streak of violence upon his neighborhood’s derelicts.

Along the way, Ferrara transports us to late 70’s downtown Manhattan. I loved the rock clubs and neighborhood streets. I loved how the performances straddle the line between amateur and natural. Most of all, I love how Ferrara’s more interested in making a cinéma vérité-style look at his own world but knows the audience wants horrific thrills, and how that frustration shines through on screen.

Viewing History

    Watched on
    Fri Feb 19, 2021 via iTunes