Let me be upfront with all my readers. I hated The Driller Killer. I found it to be a boring, artsy film that plods along slowly, eventually doling out some violence, but it happens way too late to keep a viewer interested. I understand there is a big following behind this film, with it having been on the Video Nasty list, but it certainly did not live up to the name. Nevertheless, opinions are opinions, and Arrow Video knows there is a lot of fans out there that will gobble this flick up. Hence, the spectacular Blu-ray release. Jammed with special features, two cuts of the film and two different aspect ratios, fans are going to fall in love with this release.
DISCS: 2 (1 Blu-ray, 1 DVD)
RUN-TIME: 96/101 min
ASPECT RATIO: 1.85:1, 1.37:1
AUDIO: LPCM Mono
SUBTITLES: English SDH
PRODUCTION DATE: 1979
RELEASE DATE: Nov 29, 2016
In a career that has encompassed such controversial classics as Ms. 45, Bad Lieutenant and Welcome to New York, none of Abel Ferrara’s films have quite managed to match the shock, extremity and downright notorious nature of The Driller Killer.
Ferrara plays struggling artist Reno, a man pushed to the edge by the economic realities of New York living in the late seventies and the No Wave band practising in the apartment below. His grip on reality soon begins to slip and he takes to stalking the streets with his power tool in search of prey…
Forget Taxi Driver, The Warriors and The New York Ripper, The Driller Killer is the definitive look at NYC’s underbelly – a slasher that is as much at home in the arthouse as it is the grindhouse.
The Driller Killer strives to show you the seedy underbelly of New York City. The film follows struggling artist Reno and his two female roommates, who are low on money and trying to make ends meet. Reno figures once he finishes his epic Buffalo painting, he will sell it and strike it big. Unfortunately, an encounter with a strange man (I assume his father) sets Reno down the path of insanity. Tipping the scales is the punk rock band that moves in downstairs, playing loud music at all hours of the night. Reno eventually snaps (over an hour into the movie that is) and starts running around the streets, drilling hobos.
With a title like The Driller Killer, all I expected was a crazy psycho running around drilling people up in gory fashion. Instead, I got tricked into some weird artsy 70s flick, about punk rock, lesbian showers (which I will admit is the best part) and a tiny, tiny bit of drilling. The only positive I can throw at the flick is the performance from director Abel Ferrara as Reno. He does do an excellent job at capturing the cracking psyche of a struggling, poor artist. Everything else just felt slow and boring. I am sorry, but I do not consider a “tension-filled” pizza eating scene as avant-garde filmmaking, although it was pretty disgusting watching Reno suck down a damn gross looking slice of pizza.
Okay, I did not like the movie, but like many of my other reviews I have done, I am still willing to praise the Blu-ray, as Arrow Video has made it for the fans. The two-disc set (1 Blu-ray, 1 DVD) from Arrow Video is a sight to behold. Arrow has gone out of their way to give the people everything they can muster up. Were you worried that the film was originally shot in a Full-Frame format, but matted to Widescreen for theatre runs? Don’t, as Arrow has included both aspect ratios for all the purists out there. Could you not get enough of the theatrical version and wanted more? Arrow has thrown you a bone and dug up an extended cut, featuring five more minutes of unseen footage, seamlessly branched into the theatrical version. If that is not enough, the Blu-ray features a stunning 4K transfer that keeps the grindhouse look alive and an audio presentation that booms Joseph Delia’s music loud and clear.
If the movie is not enough, Arrow Video has also served up some pretty substantial special features, some new and some old. We have a new commentary with director and star Abel Ferrara, a new interview with Abel Ferrara, a new visual essay detailing Ferrara’s career, and finally, the biggest being a feature-length documentary portrait of the New York locations that have played a key role in his work.
- 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 US 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
The issues I had with The Driller Killer, it being dreadfully slow and lacking enough violence, isn’t a reflection on the quality of the Arrow Video Blu-ray. Instead, the Blu-ray is phenomenal and worth every penny for all the fans out there prowling the streets.