Blu-ray Movie Review – The Driller Killer (1979)

The Driller Killer
Directed by Abel Ferrara
Courtesy of MVD Distribution & Arrow Video
Original Year of Release: 1979
Blu-ray Release Date: December 13, 2016

With a title like THE DRILLER KILLER, you would expect a massive body count and loads of carnage…right? Interestingly enough, if you said yes, you would be a little off the mark. While THE DRILLER KILLER is definitely a horror flick, the body count winds up surprisingly low, and the gore (while well done) is not doled out in large quantities, either. The resulting film is an interesting dramatic thriller with horror undertones.

But even so, this isn’t just a simple slasher flick. In fact, it’s quite a bit more. In addition to impressive special effects, audience members will get a riveting dramatic story as they watch a regular, every day guy slip into a frustrated madness. THE DRILLER KILLER is hard to define, but it is certainly entertaining.

If you are not familiar with THE DRILLER KILLER, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of MVD Distribution & Arrow Video:

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 practicing 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…

Forgot 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.

One of the most surprising aspects of this film for me is that the director, Abel Ferrara, portrays the main character Reno, although he does so under the stage name of Jimmy Laine. I’m not sure if I’m surprised more about the director’s portrayal or the fact that he used a fake name. Either way, Ferrara does a great job in the role.

THE DRILLER KILLER is shot well for the most part and looks good onscreen. A couple of the darker scenes are hard to make out in places, even in HD, but this is definitely forgivable given the dark nature of the film. And speaking of the HD restoration, it looks great. The picture is vivid, and the sound is crisp. Blu-ray is definitely the way to watch this film.

The acting, as mentioned, is good. In addition to Ferrara (Laine), the cast includes a variety of talented people, however none of their names stand out.

The special effects, although few, look amazing. The carnage is very believable, and I am very impressed with how the effects team worked to pull some of them off. In particular is one scene where a man takes a drill straight to the face. This is horrifically realistic, and I am not sure how it was done. Many times, cutaway scenes provide the team a place in which to slip in a fake head; not so here. The scene is continuous and brutal, which makes me wonder just how fake it might be.

THE DRILLER KILLER is a big win for me, and despite its low number of killings, it’s still a great slasher flick (that’s what sub-genre I’m putting it in for now). It is available now. The special edition contents include:

• Brand new restoration from original film elements
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
• Original Uncompressed Mono PCM audio
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• 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
• 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. (2010), Ferrara s feature-length 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
• Trailer
• 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


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