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One of the most notorious movies of the UK Video Nasties list from the 1980s, Driller Killer was first released in 1979 and banned in the UK in 1984. The movie was the directorial début of Abel Ferrara, who later directed gritty classics as King Of New York (1990) and Bad Lieutenant (1992). Ferrara also takes the lead role in Driller Killer, as a tortured and penniless artist in New York. He spends his time in his loft apartment with his girlfriend, trying to put up with a band practising below them. Eventually he snaps, grabs up his drill, and goes on a murderous rampage.
Driller Killer is much more than a straight exploitation gore horror, it's more art-house, more social drama, more an examples of the gritty new York dramas that Ferrara would do in later years. Filmed in 16mm, it gives the whole film an underground art-film feel, more akin to Warholor early Scrosese, than to the rest of the straight-to-video horrors that ended up on the video nasties list. And as such is worth revisiting with Ferrara's body of work in mind, rather than the false reputation it has.
The movie is worth revisiting, to see the seeds of Ferrara's directing style at their very beginning. It's not a great film, by any stretch of the imagination. The limited budget is written all over it. The acting isn't great, It's a good job Ferrara chose directing over acting. The lighting, as often is the cases with low budget movies, is terrible in places. Making it hard to make out what is going on. But when the movie does work, it works well, and is one of the few movies of the "video nasties" that deserves more recognition.