This Film Should Be Played LOUD. This is the first thing you see when you open up Arrow’s release of The Driller Killer. It’s printed on the facing side of the included booklet, which is loaded with screen grabs from the movie and a couple fairly interesting essays on this 1979 horror film. Let’s dive in and see if this movie is worth playing on eleven or not.
While rent is astronomical these days in New York City, with apartments easily costing thousands of dollars a month, back in the late 70s, things cost only a fraction as much. It wasn’t uncommon for two or three young adults combining their meager incomes to pay the $400 per month for a roof over their heads. This is how we find our struggling artist of a main character, Reno.
Reno lives in a small place with two ladies, and between the three of them, they are failing to pay for the rent, which is going up to $450 per month, or the increasingly high power and phone bills. Of course this will be a moot point after Reno finishes his next great painting and buys the boat he’s dreamt of. He plans to travel the world.
Instead, when he is denied a cash advance from the buyer of his next painting, Reno ends up going mad from the stresses of having no money. He takes his trusty power drill and goes on a rampage, killing without remorse or direction.
Now, I’m a fan of a good old fashioned slasher flick, and The Driller Killer definitely scratches that itch, but I do need to say that it isn’t necessarily one of the “great” slashers out there. The pacing is sort of plodding and hard to slog through at times, and once the kills start happening, there’s almost a humor about them. Reno doesn’t pick and choose his targets, he just sort of stumbles upon them, and then …. drills them. The blood and effects are pretty great, I just wish I cared more about our killer here.
As I just mentioned, the effects are pretty satisfying, and are 100% in line with what you would want from a late 70’s slasher. The acting leaves a bit to be desired, which sort of causes the slog. However, the club scenes and music are pretty great. Overall, horror and slasher fans will likely enjoy their time spent here, if they can make it through to the killings, because once they start the film really picks up and gets fun.
The Driller Killer was shot with a low budget using a 16mm camera. As you may guess, there is a lot of film grain due to this. So, unfortunately, this isn’t a fantastic looking movie, however, I can say that it looks about as good as it could possibly look, as Arrow puts a lot of attention to their transfers. In fact, they did a 4k scan for this transfer, so this is going to be the definitive transfer. One nice thing to note here is that the colors look surprisingly vivd.
The audio track included is mono, so no directional audio here, but what is included sounds pretty good. True to the booklet says, this film does actually sound quite good on loud volume, as the music lends itself to it nicely. The drill also sounds particularly satisfying, and really that’s all one could hope for.
As always, Arrow has included a diverse and awesome range of special features, including:
- Theatrical and Pre-Release Versions of the film, each with 1.37:1 and 1.85:1 aspect rations.
- Laine and Abel: An Interview with the Driller Killer – a brand new interview Abel Ferrara, the star/Director of the film.
- Willing and Abel: Ferraraology 101 – a look at Abel Ferrara’s career.
- Mulberry Street – A documentary about the neighborhood in the film.
- Commentary – with Abel Ferrara
Also included is a booklet with lots of pictures and a couple of essays on the film and Abel Ferrara. This is comes in the standard clear case that Arrow is known for, with reversible sleeve and 1 Blu-ray disc and 1 DVD.
The Driller Killer Final Thoughts:
If you’re a die hard fan of the Slasher genre and need something new to sink your teeth into, Arrow never disappoints with their top notch packaging and selection of unique and varied titles. The Driller Killer fits into their catalog nicely and is a definite oddity. Most movie goers won’t get a lot out of a film like this, but it just might be worth a rental. Or you can grab yourself a copy on Amazon.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process