It’s Saturday night and the pefect time to look at another cult film, this one’s a slasher film from 1982, The Driller Killer became infamous during the 1980s when it was put on the list of so called video nasties in the UK that ultimately resulted in the film being banned in 1984. In fact it was only in 1999 that the film finally got its certificate 18 release. Skip forward to 2002 and the BBFC decided to allow the full uncut version a release. So without further ado here’s my The Driller Killer Blu-ray review.
- The Driller Killer (1979)
- UK Rating 18
- Discs: 2 (Blu-ray & DVD)
- Released By Arrow Video
- Blu-ray Released: 28 November 2016
- Starring Jimmy Laine (Abel Ferrara), Carolyn Marz, Baybi Day, Harry Schultz, Alan Wynroth
An artist is trying to complete his latest work of art, his only problem being he lives in a rundown apartment block in which his neighbours just happen to be a rock band. They practice at all hours of the day and night not giving the artist any respite to work.
Something is going to have to give or someone or some people may very well find themselves on the end of a drill.
The story was written by Nicholas St. John.
Style / Direction
The film was directed by Abel Ferrara with the cinematography being handled by Ken Kelsch.
Set in the seventies the look and style is similar to that of say Panic in Needle Park. It feels a little bit like a documentary that is to say the film has a real gritty quality to it.
I suppose it does this quite well to a point but is let down largely by the plot.
Music / Audio Effects
There is not much of a score throughout much of the film but Joseph Delia is credited with what little there is. That said the film does largely encompass a rock band so plenty of music is indeed in the film.
However the band’s lead member plays and sounds like he is on drugs continually droning on and on. This fits the character well but is not something I particularly enjoyed listening to.
Acting / Characters
Director Abel Ferrara plays the lead role of artist Reno Miller although he is credited under the name of Jimmy Laine. He has a strange whacked out look about him, which plays well as a tortured creative type.
In fact it is really only his unique look and spaced out moods that suddenly snap into sheer rage that gives me anything positive to say about The Driller Killer.
Reno shares the apartment with two women Carol and Pamela. He is in fact in a relationship with Carol whilst Pamela seemingly has nowhere else to stay. In fact the two female leads share more than just a flat as a lesbian shower scene will later prove.
The acting on the whole is not the greatest but then this is a low budget film emphasised by the fact that both director and lead actor are indeed one in the same.
The credits show two different names but that is probably to help with the marketing of the film.
Conclusion: The Driller Killer (1979) Film Review
Having never seen this cult classic I can honestly say it really wasn’t worth the wait. The title obviously tells you all you need to know but I just didn’t find the plot that links the driller killing murders to be firstly interesting and secondly well constructed.
The killer goes around with a drill and we are not talking about a cordless one, presumably the lead connects to some sort of battery pack on his person.
But wait that was my review of the theatrical release, does the pre-release version that lasts another 5 minutes completely change the film?
Not really as far as I could tell it adds a little bit more to the first scene at the church which adds a little bit more background but not much.
It’s not the worst film I’ve seen and I would say that this is only a must see for extreme exploitation / slasher films fans. I for one won’t be rushing to watch it again anytime soon.
Conclusion: The Driller Killer Blu-ray Review
The Blu-ray release has undergone a 4K restoration from the original camera negative. That said this film is still a little noisy with film grain and there are still the occasional flickers of dirt. I’m not sure the quality of the film used would have been particularly high, either that of the film has been stored badly over the years. There are certainly drops in the quality in a number of scenes where vertical lines appear these really should have been removed.
However with all that said I think a decent job has been done in restoring The Driller Killer into a watchable state. I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt on this one I have a feeling the original print may well have been in a terrible state.
If you like this cult classic then this is the version you need to own.
It comes with two versions of the film, the Theatrical cut and the Pre-release. Plus you can choose between 1.37:1 & 1.85:1 aspect ratios, so everyone should be happy.
All in all this is a good Blu-ray release from Arrow Video.
- Two versions of the film, Theatrical Cut (96 mins) & Pre-Release (101 mins)
- Laine and Abel: An Interview with the Driller Killer
- Willing and Abel: Ferraraology 101
- Mulberry St
- Reversible sleeve
The extras include interviews with Abel Ferrara and a general look at his filmography. This is yet another excellent set of extras courtesy of Arrow Video, perfect for any film lover.
On to my movie rating for The Driller Killer (1979)
- Movie Rating: ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION REQUIRED
- Blu-ray: GOOD
- Extras: VERY GOOD
Amazon UK Links
The Driller Killer (1979) is available now on Blu-ray priced £12.64 from Amazon (as of date of review)
For those of you yet to see the film I’ll leave you with a little taster…
Clip may not be representative of the Blu-ray version
That’s my The Driller Killer blu-ray review, if you have any thoughts on this film leave them in the comment section below:
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Summary: The Driller Killer (1979) Blu-ray Review
Movie title: The Driller Killer (1979)
Duration: 96 mins
Director(s): Abel Ferrara
Actor(s): Jimmy Laine aka Abel Ferrara, Carolyn Marz, Baybi Day, Harry Schultz
- Movie Rating
- Blu-ray Picture Quality Rating
A cult film that has not improved with the passing of time, the picture quality on the Blu-ray has however improved vastly.