Blu Ray Review: Abel Ferrera’s The Driller Killer (Arrow Video)

I think I was supposed to write this a long time ago, right around Christmas, But instead I went off on a vacation down to Florida and experienced something I wanted to do since i was a child. I went to Universal Studios! Staying up late and waking up early to watch different movies and early game shows on Nickelodeon was my life. All I ever wanted was to visit Universal Studios ride the Jaws ride and visit Nickelodeon Studios, maybe be a contestant on “What Would You Do?” With Mark Summers. But, to my dismay, the Jaws ride shut down a few years ago to make room for all the wizards of Harry Potter things that are honestly amazing, but as a life long Jaws Fan, my heart was still broken that it was gone and I would never experience the shock of a animatronics shark slowly rising from the water and scaring the six-year-old inside me.But whatever, More on that another time, just trying to explain the reasoning behind why this is so late. You don’t care about my Trip to Florida. I apologize.

Either way, about a month or two ago Arrow Video released a movie that shouldn’t be an unknown title to most horror fans that frequented their local video rental stores. Abel Ferrara’s “The Driller Killer”. A sleazy look into a certain neighborhood in New York City, that is home to an artist( played by director Abel Ferrara)that seems to enjoy using an electronic drill and a portable battery pack to terrorize the local drunks,crack heads and most of the homeless population all while dealing with the pressures of making rent as a struggling artist. Not to mention dealing with annoying punk rock neighbors, who insist on playing live music at 3 in the morning.

This movie is extremely New York, and what I mean by that is that it was filmed in the streets of 1979 New York and takes place in the seedy punk clubs and roach filled apartments of the time.You can almost smell the garbage that is piled up in the streets through the screen.This movie BLEEDS NY, so much so that the homeless in the film were actually real. They were cast due to the fact that they were the homeless people who lived and hung around outside director/star Abel Ferreras apartment! Like I said though,this is definitely a New York movie, I put it up there with other great NEW YORK films of the time like

  • William Lustig’s “Maniac” or “Maniac Cop 2”
  • Frank Henenlotter’s entire catalog of films but mainly the dirty, grimy side of New York that you find in movies like “Basket Case” and “Frankenhooker”.
  • Douglas Cheek’s – “C.H.U.D”
  • Lucio Fulcis – “The New York Ripper” ( this one is only different from the rest due to having only external shots in New York. Where as everything else was a New York Film maker doing it all in the city of New York.)

No matter how you look at it, there was a certain griminess to the old New York of the late 70s and 80s, something that you won’t see now a days when visiting. Gone are my dreams of being a cinephile joyously walking among junkies, crackheads, hookers, pimps and drunkards while skipping down 42nd street to the next grind house to see a Kung Fu Triple feature!!

But I’m getting off topic..
The Driller Killer has been released in a Blu Ray/DVD dual format pack that is available in a gorgeous Steelbook that has everyone’s favorite scene on the cover, or a normal version with new painted artwork by The Twins of evil.  Now nothing against the new artwork or the artists, but I much prefer the gory original artwork to the new one. (Which is why I went with the steelbook, but don’t worry you can just flip the insert over in the regular version if you feel the same.) When I was younger,I remember going to video stores and glossing over the different covers for all the different movies for hours at a time and Driller Killer has always stuck out. I mean, having  a man screaming in pain while there is someone using a power drill to make a small hole into your skull, all while the brightest rivers of red flow from the wound. As a kid, that isn’t something you can normally just get outta your head. It doesn’t matter how many times you rent “Beethoven” that image is not leaving your brain.

In 1984 the film was added to the dreaded “Video Nasties”. A list of films banned to the public of the United Kingdom,only to be released in a cut version that would take a good chunk of violence, blood, gore or nudity or anything else that they found to be too offensive. I’ll talk more about video nasties another time. Look let’s break it down to this, are you the kind of person who wants to see someone drilling into someone’s face with power drill or not? If you are, pick up this movie. If that sounded like a stupid question and you’re not into that sort of thing, please just move on.

A film that’s not as gross and disgusting as we might remember it,but some of these gore scenes do still pack a punch on this new blu ray. Drilled with all types of special features, this classic from the heyday of video cassettes, makes a fine addition to anyone’s blu ray collection. Arrow has put together something special for fans of The Driller Killer and even hid a few things in there for people who might be stumbling upon it for the first time. Regardless, it’s available now wherever you get your movies from.

I suggest diabolikdvd.com but who am I? Don’t listen to me. Well please listen to me, when I tell you that this release is pretty awesome. I mean I guess  You don’t have to buy movies where I tell you to or anything. Maybe you don’t like supporting smaller companies that carry everything you are looking for without you even realizing it? I don’t know, I can’t speak for you. I’m gonna stop now, I apologize for my ramblings.

The Driller Killer is available now on Blu Ray/DVD from Arrow Video. 

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