Review: Driller Killer

FDTC writer Thomas Gleba shares his thoughts on the Blu-Ray release of the 1979 slasher classic, Driller Killer.
Written by Thomas Gleba

"Driller Killer"

Arrow Video/MVD Visual Blu-ray/DVD Combo

Back in the heyday of VHS rentals, horror films, much like metal albums, could often be rated as "good or bad" based on their cover art. I spent plenty of time with my friend and  fellow admirer of all things bloody and sleazy, Rob Dudley doing just that--picking films based on the nastiness of the box. Very few compared to the power drill boring into some poor fucker's head on the VHS of "Driller Killer".

Imagine my disgust when I bought the old Cult Epics DVD with "new" cover art a few years back that just lacked any kind of impact. Thankfully, the new 2 disc, 4k restoration edition from Arrow/MVD features the original, classic, cover art (at least the spec sheet included with my screener says so, alas, I just got a basic screener disc).

The film proper, from controversial director Abel Ferrara, tells the story of Reno Miller (Ferrara using a pseudonym) an artist trying to keep the bills paid in late 70's NYC. Compounding Reno's problems are his two lady friends Carol and Pamela, a bitchy studio owner, and the terrible punk band, The Roosters, rehearsing downstairs. So, naturally, he copes with this predicament the only way he knows how--by murdering homeless people equipped with a portable power pack and his trusty power drill.

Equal parts grindhouse and artsy-fartsy (at least that's what it aspires to), "Driller Killer" features the same "New York-ness" of other films of the era--notably Lustig's "Maniac" and Joel M. Reed's "Bloodsucking Freaks", seriously, the film almost has a discernable accent. Gritty, gory, and lots of fun, however, I beseech you to consider carefully the "This Film Should Be Played Loud" advice in the opening credits, unless of course, you like some truly unbearable punk slop (conversely, the soundtrack at times features some Frizzi/Goblin-esque synth work).

The blu-ray is a sharp, crisp step up from previous releases, and it's jam packed with all of the extras that make these special editions from Arrow Video so sought after by collectors and fans--alternate art, informative commentaries, a feature length doc about Ferrara's New York locations, interviews and more.

So, when next you haunt your favorite video store, looking for some violent, reprehensible entertainment, definitely pick up the blu featuring that poor bastard being cranially violated by a drill bit, you'll have an interesting evening, I guarantee it!

-Scream King Tom