“The Driller Killer” Remains An Intense Experience

Arrow Video brings Abel Ferrara’s notorious Video Nasty to 4K life with its dual format Blu-ray/DVD release that includes a brand new commentary from the man himself. Laura Shearer takes a closer look at the film.

A struggling New York based painter facing ever mounting pressures finds release in a very alternative use of a power tool. Trippy artworks combine primary colours to add to the kill scenes, where bright red stage blood is never in short supply. Abel Ferrara directs and stars as the killer himself in a dark and twisted that gained notoriety thanks to becoming one of the “video nasties” in the UK during the 1980s and 1990s. It wasn’t until 1999 that the film’s ban was lifted albeit with cuts. It wasn’t until 2002 that film was released in the UK uncut.

Ferrara’s film features the intensity of his most well known feature Bad Lieutenant although enjoys a markedly different style. The key undercurrent running throughout is the idea of a “2am in the morning” kind of madness setting in. Not that anyone’s suggesting you should wait up till 2am with a drill at hand and see what happens, never a good idea in general. Where people appear relatively normal (and don’t all horror film murderers appear “normal” at the start), the insanity pours through the cracks superbly, as if there’s just something that clicks, forcing the hand of the individual with his weapon-of-choice: in this case a power drill.

The standard use of a power tool is of course important, it ranks The Driller Killer up there with films like The Tool Box Murders (1978) which all share over the top uses of tools for extremely gory victim-focused deaths. Although in comparison to its modern counterparts such as the Saw films, you don’t see much detail in the lower budget The Driller Killer, one of it’s more time enduring qualities relies on the buckets of stage blood and simplicity of the use of the power tool.

the driller killer, four stars

Written by Laura Shearer

Top 10 Films reviewed The Driller Killer on Blu-ray courtesy of Arrow Video which released the film on Limited Edition Dual Format Blu-Ray + DVD SteelBook, and Special Edition Dual Format Blu-Ray + DVD in the UK November 28, 2016. Arrow’s new 4k restoration has been taken from the original cinema negative and features two cuts; one as a Blu-ray/DVD-only release and the other the original feature cut. There are several never-before-seen special features including a brand new commentary by Ferrara – exclusive to this release, as well as a new interview with him and a new visual essay on his career. The release also includes Mulberry St. for the first time ever on UK home video, Ferrara’s 2010 feature-length documentary portrait of the New York location that has played a key role in his life and work.

Directed by: Abel Ferrara
Written by: Nicholas St. John
Starring: Jimmy Laine, Carolyn Marz, Baybi Day, Harry Schultz, Alan Wynroth
Released: 1979 / Genre: Horror/Black Comedy
Country: USA / IMDB / More reviews: Latest | Archive
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About the Author
Film enthusiast and lover of all things cinema, Laura holds a BA/MA in film studies theory and lectures/tutors film students.

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    Neal Damiano Reply

    Great grindhouse film. It’s now considered a classic. Such a seedy side offering of NYC back then. Abel Ferrara is such an overlooked amazing director and one of my favorite filmmakers. Nice write up

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