Review: The Driller Killer
Blu-ray: The Driller Killer (1979)
Infamous for playing a leading role in the UK ‘Video Nasty’ furore led by the NVLA in the early 1980’s, The Driller Killer returns to our screens in a new uncut 4k restoration, thanks to the awesome people at Arrow Films.
Director Abel Ferrara plays the aforementioned ‘Driller Killer’, Reno Miller; a struggling artist who is in financial difficulty and can’t afford to pay the rent on his apartment which he shares with his girlfriend Carol and her lover Pamela (a strange love triangle that is highlighted in a titillating shower scene in which Ferrara seems to be having just a little bit too much of a good time filming).
Tasked with finishing a painting within a week by art gallery owner Dalton Briggs (Harry Schultz) on the promise of Briggs buying it and alleviating his financial woes, Reno sets about creating a masterpiece in his apartment. However, his peace is soon shattered when a band called the Roosters move into a nearby apartment and begin practising their music at all hours of the day and night. Taking a nighttime walk to avoid the music, Reno sees homeless people on the streets and vows not to become one of them.
When the landlord refuses to listen to Reno’s complaint about the noise the Roosters are making, the aural bombardment, accompanied by voices in his head and a series of disturbing mental visions, tips Reno into going on a killing spree with a power drill. A succession of people then become the unwitting recipient of a spinning drill bit to various parts of their anatomy. This all culminates in Reno, Carol, Pamela and Dalton all living happily ever after…and if you don’t believe that, then you’re going to have to watch the movie and find out what DOES happen.
This new Arrow Films dual format release has the same cover image as the original UK VHS rental; a striking image which in no small part attributed to its place on the video nasty list as well as accounting for numerous rentals by gore hungry viewers before it was whipped off the shelves accompanied by cries of disdain from Mary Whitehouse and her gang of sycophantic NVLA minions…as you can probably guess, I was never a fan of Mary Whitehouse and her asinine crusade to ‘protect’ me from harmful viewing. It was this image that on the one hand helped to gain its notoriety, yet at the same time disappointed many people as it was the ‘money shot’ of the movie and nothing else (at least not in the gore department) came close to it. Those wanting to see a close up of a drill going into someones head were also spoiled the very next year when Giovanni Lombardo Radice went through much more in Lucio Fulci’s City of the Living Dead…recommended if you like some ‘drill action’.
Led by the fantastically named ‘Tony Coca-Cola’ (D.A. Metrov) on guitar, the Roosters create a cacophony that not only drives Reno to a killing spree, but may also do so to you, depending on your musical tastes of course. This would not be a movie soundtrack that I would buy.
I WOULD however buy this movie release immediately. The new 4K restoration makes the colours vibrant and each turn of the drill ever more graphic and painful. Plus the always reliable Arrow Films add an amazing array of extras to the disc, in which Ferrara is an absolute hoot in both his interview and commentary track. Loose with his language and suffixing sentences with “you dig?“, his stories had me transfixed throughout the entire running time.
If you’ve seen The Driller Killer before then you will probably all ready have this from when it was released on 28th November (and if not, why not!?). For those of you who may not be familiar with it, put aside whatever preconceptions you may have from the cover (it is certainly no Hostel, or Saw for you ‘torture porn’ lovers out there) and immerse yourself into the dark underbelly of New York.
- Brand new 4K restoration from the original camera negative of the never-before-seen pre-release version and the theatrical cut
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations in both 1.85:1 and 1.37:1 aspect ratios
- Original Uncompressed Mono PCM audio
- Audio commentary by director and star Abel Ferrara, moderated by Brad Stevens (author of Abel Ferrara: The Moral Vision) and recorded exclusively for this release
- Laine and Abel: An Interview with the Driller Killer, a brand-new interview with Ferrara
- Willing and Abel: Ferraraology 101, a new visual essay guide to the films and career of Ferrara by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, author of Cultographies: Ms. 45
- Mulberry St., Ferrara’s feature-length 2010 documentary portrait of the New York location that has played a key role in his life and work, available on home video in the UK for the first time ever
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Michael Pattison and Brad Stevens.