Written by: Michael Den Boer on December 12th, 2016
BluRay released: November 28th, 2016 (UK) / December 13th, 2016 (USA)
Approximate running times: 97 Minutes (Theatrical Cut), 101 Minutes (Pre-Release Version)
Aspect Ratios: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Both Versions) & 1.37:1 Aspect Ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Both Versions)
Sound: LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Coding: Region A,B / Region 1,2 NTSC
Retail Price: $39.95 (USA) / £17.99 (UK)
Synopsis: Reno Miller is a down and out artist that is desperately trying to finish a painting that he is working on before his landlord evicts him for not paying his rent. To make matter worse Reno has two roommates who have been making way too many long-distance calls and now the phone is being disconnected since he neglected to pay off what he owes. Reno works night and day on what he feels is going to be his greatest work as a painter. More bad news in the form of Punk band that has recently moved in downstairs and they practice night and day. Unable to concentrate and finish his painting due to the loud music from his neighbors’ Reno quickly becomes unstable. Reno acquires a Porto-Pak to help him power his drill and then he stalks the streets of New York in search of the homeless who he then kills with his power drill.
Abel Ferrara is not a conventional filmmaker by any means. His films are gritty depictions of New York City in its rawest form. His is virtually a one man show as he has not only directed but written, acted and edited many of his films including The Driller Killer as film which first gained notoriety as a video nasty in England in the early 1980’s. Despite obtaining the video nasty tag this film is surprisingly tame when it comes to violent content. Nothing about The Driller Killer is polished and in fact it is this rough around the edges look that makes what is going on during the film so compelling. The plot is average at best and it even feels padded with scenes that include the punk rock band in the film. Ferrara’s direction does manage to crack out some really impressive shots despite the films lack of budget and time constraints.
Acting wise none of the performers really stood out or caught my attention except Abel Ferrara who plays the films lead character Reno Miller under the pseudonym Jimmy Laine. Ferrara is intense throughout and even in his characters lowest moments he manages to gain is just a little of my sympathy. Abel Ferrara is a maniac throughout the film and it is obvious that he is enjoying this role he is playing. There is something fascinating about this film despite its flaws as it moves along at a brisk pace. There is a few similarities Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver most notably in how one the scene’s in The Driller Killer is edited. The Driller Killer is an interesting cult film oddity that opens with an appropriate message that says that this film should be played loud and of course they are right. Ultimately The Driller Killer is a tale about a man who fear of becoming what he most despises drives him to murder.
The Driller Killer comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay and both versions are flagged for progressive playback. This release comes with two versions of the film and there are also two aspect ratios 1.37:1 and 1.85:1, offered for each version. For this release a brand new 4k master was created from the film’s original camera negative and the end result is easily the best this film has ever looked on home video. Grain remains intact and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in English and included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. The disclaimer before the film sums up this film audio mix, “This Film Should be Played Loud”. The audio sounds clean, clear and balanced.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (32 seconds), an interview with director Abel Ferrara titled Laine and Abel: An Interview with the Driller Killer (17 minutes 31 seconds), a visuals essay titled Willing and Abel: Ferraraology 101 (34 minutes 19 seconds), a documentary titled Mulberry St. (87 minutes 52 seconds) and an informative audio commentary with Abel Ferrara and Brad Stevens author of Abel Ferrara: The Moral Vision. And this audio commentary is a more focused track than the audio commentary track that appeared on previous home video releases.
Topics discussed in the interview with Abel Ferrara include, cinema influences, film school and his early attempts at filmmaking, adult cinema and why he only made one film in that genre, Nicolas Ray, The Texas Chain saw Massacre, The Driller Killer, his approach to filmmaking and his thoughts about the film.
The documentary titled Mulberry St. is essentially an in-depth look about the location that has been featured prominently in the majority of Abel Ferrara’s films.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art and a twenty-eight-page booklet with cast and crew info for The Driller Killer, an essay titled All Around, In the City written by Michael Pattison, crew info for Mulberry St., an essay titled The Memory of Reality written by Brad Stevens and information about the transfer. Also included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall The Driller Killer gets an exceptional release from Arrow Video, highly recommended.