Aaaaah The Driller Killer, the film that launched a million outrageous headlines in the UK back in the day and was one of the films responsible for the whole “video Nasties” furore of the early 80s, resulting in strict, state mandated, video censorship laws.
Fortunately, we live in slightly more enlightened times now, and the film is no longer considered worthy of being banned. Which is good news, as it will be making its Blu-Ray debut here in the UK this month, courtesy of Arrow films in an uncut special edition Blu-ray and DVD combo and limited edition steelbook.
The plot revolves around a struggling artist named Reno Miller (played by the director himself, Abel Ferrara), who’s having difficulty making ends meet at his seedy, run down, New York apartment, which he shares with a couple of girls.
Driven to distraction by the punk band that’ve moved in downstairs and not dealing very well with his latest works being rejected by his agent, he takes to the streets with a power drill at night and proceeds to start killing random homeless people, and annoying drunks.
Directed by Abel Ferrera, who went on to have more mainstream success with “The King of New York”, “Bad Lieutenant” and the 1993 remake “Body Snatchers”. Despite the film’s title and infamous graphic box artwork, this is not really a slasher movie, and if anything is really more of an art film. The killings take up only a fraction of the films running time, with the main focus being on Reno’s day-to-day struggles which are taking their toll on him.
Even so, the films notoriety ensured it stayed banned in the UK until 1999, and even then wasn’t released fully uncut until 2002. This release from Arrow, is of course fully uncut, containing 2 slightly different versions of the film and a whole stack of extra features.
Alternate versions - First up you get the option of watching the original theatrical version, or the pre-release version, which runs about 5 mins longer. However, I haven’t had time to do a side-by-side comparison, so am not sure what extra footage is in the latter. You also have the option of watching both of these in their originally filmed 1.37:1 open matte ratio, or 1.85:1 cropped widescreen ratio.
Audio commentary – This is a brand new audio commentary track, which accompanies the theatrical version, recorded in March of this year (as opposed to the old one on previous releases, which was almost inaudible). In which the director discusses the making of the film with Brad Stevens, author of Abel Ferrera : The Moral visions.
Abel Ferrera Interview – Brand new interview with director Abel Ferrera, exclusive to this release, who discusses this and some of his other movies, which runs about 17mins.
Ferreraology 101 feature – A visual essay of Abel Ferrera’s films, by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, author of the Ferrera biopic Ms:45, which runs about 35mins, featuring video clips from all his films to date.
Mulberry Street – 90min Documentary, in which Abel Ferrera wanders round the New York district that inspired and featured in many of his early films, meeting many colourful characters along the way.
Theatrical trailer – lastly, the films theatrical trailer is included.
A nice selection of extras, the video has also been digitally re-authored from a 4K scan of the original camera negatives, though as it was originally filmed on 16mm film stock, still boasts a fair amount of grain, but is still the best its ever looked.
Whilst the film may not be the gore soaked opus its box artwork and title suggests, indeed considering some of the films that have come out in recent years it beggars belief how it got banned in the first place, this is an essential purchase for video nasty fans.
The film is released in both a standard case and limited edition steelbook containing both Blu-Ray and DVD versions of the film, with the same extras on. The first pressings of which also contain a collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Michael Pattison and Brad Stevens There is also a US release available from the American division, which also features the same special features.
The film is released Nov 28.
Buy the UK BD/DVD from Amazon.co.uk
Buy the UK Steelbook BD/DVD from Amazon.co.uk